Written by Nic Fraraccio // Photo by Macy Cox
Senior pitcher Abby Burch received her second career statistical champion award last Monday after recording 19 saves during the 2023 softball season.
The Arkansas native led Division I, II and III in saves, beating Chloe Leverington from Saint Martin’s University and Keira Bucher from the University of Maryland.
With 19 saves, Burch broke the NCAA Division II single-season saves record. Alex Lewis from the University of Alabama in Huntsville set the previous record in 2009 with 18 saves.
Burch also broke the single-season school record set in 2019 by Emma Dwyer, who finished the season with 12 saves.
Burch said assistant coach Chris Wiman and her father kept track of the save count throughout the season.
“As soon as I broke the Harding record, they kinda let me know what the national record was gonna be,” Burch said.
Burch kept a clean slate during the 2023 season, not allowing a single earned run during the regular season conference schedule. Overall, Burch finished the season with a 0.87 ERA and 40 strikeouts across 48 and ⅓ innings pitched.
Harding’s closer added depth to one of the best pitching staffs in the Great American Conference (GAC). Junior pitcher Riley Price said she would always feel a sense of relief when Burch closed games.
“I knew if I could do it, Abby could go in there and take care of everything,” Price said. “There’s nobody like Abby.”
The senior provided multiple key moments for the Lady Bisons throughout the season. In her final appearance, Burch shut down Oklahoma Baptist University, advancing the team to the NCAA Central Region One championship.
Burch completed her fourth win of the season by striking out GAC Freshman of the Year Kennedy Clark.
Burch said the victory was one of the most exciting moments during the 2023 season.
“I normally don’t like to celebrate on the field, but I celebrated that one because it was such a good feeling,” Burch said.
Junior catcher Brooke Johnson said the victory displayed Burch’s “killer mentality” within the circle.
“She has that grit like she wants it and she’s here to work for all of us,” Johnson said. “She stepped on the rubber saying, ‘I don’t care who you are, I’m about to go to war.’”
As the fall semester continues, Burch and the Lady Bisons will continue to practice in preparation for the 2024 season. Burch said she would love to see the student body support the Lady Bisons during the spring season.
“Come out and support. We really do appreciate it,” Burch said. “We are excited to see where the season takes us.”