Team 36 recognized its seven graduating seniors following a pair of wins over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Saturday, May 8.
Kelsey Gross, Kelsey Gray, Drew Dudley, Brett Jackson, Brooke Moore, Katelyn Smith and Victoria Eccleston—who returned to Clarksville after receiving her Bachelor’s from APSU last year — received a picture frame and flower from coaches after the doubleheader sweep.
The septuple represent the winningest years of softball at APSU. Their 127 wins are the most over a five-year period in the program’s 36-year history.
“This class is extremely special,” said APSU head coach Kassie Stanfill. “You can look at their stats and what they’ve done for this program on paper, but if you actually know them as people and know what they have poured into all of their teammates and the program, it’s all you could ask for from a student-athlete.
“We talk about leaving the place better than you found it, and this class has definitely left their legacy and something that we can continue to build off.”
While stats do not tell the whole story for the soon-to-be APSU alumna, they certainly do speak volumes. Apart from the record-breaking win total, the seven graduates currently combine for 329 hits, 192 RBI and 522 starts during their time in Clarksville.
Kelsey Gross, who earned her master’s degree this past week and will be a 5th grade teacher at Joelton Elementary following the season’s conclusion, has had one of the most successful careers by any APSU softball player.
A threat from the mound as well as the circle, Gross has a career earned run average of 3.77, including a sub-2.14 ERA over the past two seasons. She is also a .300 hitter, accounting for 91 hits, nine home runs and 70 RBI across her career for the red and black.
“It means the world, honestly,” said Gross of her academic and athletic success at APSU. “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my parents who gave me the opportunity to come here, to help pave the way and teach me what it’s like to work hard for what you want and to simply just have fun while you’re doing it. That has been my biggest goal this season, no matter what happens, to just have fun. I have the best group of girls to do it with.
“I also thank Austin Peay for allowing me to get further my education and I am so excited to teach the next generation, but I am also just so thankful for the coaches that Gerald [Harrison] has put in my life, because they have made a huge difference in not only me as a softball player, but who I am as a person too.”
Gross and company have the opportunity to make history at APSU by winning their first OVC Title later this month.
After sweeping Saturday’s doubleheader over the Colonels, the Govs not only took EKU out of contention for the OVC regular-season championship, but also cemented a rematch between the two in the first round of the tournament next week.
The two will begin preparation for the first round of the OVC tournament which will be held at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Al. May 13-15.