For the first time in Harding softball history, the Lady Bisons are off to a 6-0 start, winning four games over the weekend, including three shutouts against Missouri Western State University, Northwest Missouri State University and Pittsburg State University in Bentonville, Arkansas.
The success of this season has been attributed to the unity the team experienced while visiting Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in August 2016 to assist in a flood relief effort.
“We took that trip to Baton Rouge, and that just brought us closer as a team.” sophomore outfielder Peyton Mills said on the current state of the team. “I think skill-wise, there’s not much change … Bringing each skill set into the team, that’s been the process.”
Friday’s games began with a 2-1 victory against the then undefeated No. 22 University of Missouri – St. Louis. Friday’s second game was an 8-0 shutout against Missouri Western State in five innings, and the shutout streak continued from there, with a 1-0 win against Northwest Missouri State, and a 3-0 win against Pittsburg State on Saturday.
After the dust settled, Harding improved their standing to 6-0, leading the GAC softball standings over second place 7-1 Southern Arkansas University.
Even with their record start, the team is focused on consistency and tempo control.
“Coach Berry talks about one game at a time, one inning at a time, one pitch at a time,” Mills said. “I think it’s a good test of where we stand.”
Senior catcher Kimberly Hendricks-Campbell noted the growth of the team since its inception in 2013.
“I feel like we have a lot more leadership on the team this year than we have in the past, just because it’s been a program that’s been built over the past three years,” Hendricks-Campbell said. “It’s our fourth season, and now the freshman that came in to start the program are seniors. We’ve been around for a little bit, and have a foundation built, and that helps a lot, having more experience… We have a bunch of great girls on the team that just mesh really well with one another.”
As for the shutout games, the praise was all directed to the pitchers, freshman Autumn Humes and senior Hannah Johnson.
“I have to give it to our pitchers, they allowed one run,” Hendricks-Campbell said. “When you can do that, it doesn’t really put much on our shoulders.”
Senior outfielder and infielder Brookelynn Moon credited the success to their conference championship birth last year.
“I would say that last year no one had any expectations for us to be special,” Moon said, “so when we made it to the conference championship, we were just excited to be there. It ended in a loss, but this year we’re more focused, and we know we can accomplish more than we did last year.”
The Bisons will play another four games this weekend in Bentonville, Arkansas, with a rebranded reputation as the undefeated region leaders.