For the first time since March 11, softball was played at Cathi Maynard Park for fans to attend.
The annual Red & Black Softball World Series took place on Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 26 and 27. It was the first time the public has been allowed at Cathi Maynard Park-Cheryl Holt Field since a March 11 doubleheader against Siena that turned out to be the last games of the COVID-shortened 2020 softball season.
In the best of three series, the red team took home the victory behind strong performances by freshman Jordan Benefiel along with 5th year “granny” seniors Kelsey Gray and Kelsey Gross.
In her first action from the mound as a Gov, Benefiel recorded both wins for her squad. The Pendleton, Ind. native allowed just two hits in her debut on Monday in relief of Gross and one hit in Tuesday’s starting role.
Gray recorded multiple hits in each game, making her the only Gov to do so in each contest.
Gross was seemingly everywhere during the series and succeeded in every position she was placed in. She recorded three hits in the two games and picked up a save in her sweep-sealing performance that featured retiring the final six black team batters.
Head coach Kassie Stanfill was impressed with both groups, but said that the red team dominated every facet of the game.
“Overall, both teams showed up to compete,” Stanfill said. “The tempo of the game was a lot better [on Tuesday]. We had good pace, we had energy, we had communication. One team just showed up on three sides of the game versus just one. I think overall it was good, again, we wish we could have game three instead of red just taking it with two, but it is what it is and red team was just determined to do that and that is what they said from the jump.”
Going into the 2020 season, one of the main concerns for softball was in the pitching department. They were thin and young on the mound and it showed in the first half of their season after the team was outscored 38-84 across their first 13 games this past spring. The club will be returning both starting pitchers from a season ago in Harley Mullins and Shelby Sharpe. In addition to Mullins and Sharpe, the pitching rotation will also include Gross, who redshirted in 2020 due to injury, and Benefiel who has showed great potential in preparation for her freshman campaign. Stanfill says that the depth on the mound is vital in the program taking the next step.
“Having more depth on the mound is going to be more beneficial for us moving forward,” Stanfill said. “We have been able to spend this fall working different combos and trying to see who work best, who compliments one another, so we’ve had the time to do that and just having the depth to do it is what is going to put us forward.”
With the series being just a taste of what is to come in the spring, fans of APSU softball will have to wait another four months before seeing Stanfill’s Governors take the field. Team 36 is set to begin their 2021 season on Feb. 19 at Troy university’s tournament.