CLERMONT, Fla. -- In two seasons with SOU, senior Harlee Donovan has led the Raiders to two NAIA World Series appearances. Before she arrived in Ashland, the team hadn't reached one.
"It's no coincidence that we're going for a second year in a row with her," SOU head softball coach, Jessica Pistole, said.
Donovan turned down an offer from Division-1 Arizona State to come to SOU for her junior campaign. She decided, instead, to play out her final two years of eligibility at SOU.
"I knew that I was going to be part of a team that was trying to put SOU back on the map," Donovan said.
She has made quick work of the SOU power-hitting record books. In just two seasons, she has hit more career home runs than anyone in SOU's history. Individual accolades aside, Donovan has made a point of obsessing less over stats and more over her team.
"All my life I've been someone who checks stats regularly, who checks up on other teams, does my own scouting, reads every article," Donovan said, "This year I put all that aside and honestly, this year is all about my team and being the best teammate I can."
Donovan had an even better 2018 season than 2017 and her goal to a better teammate showed to those in the Cascade Collegiate Conference; in addition to earning the conference's Player of the Year award, she won the Champions of Character award.
It's that combination of power hitting and selflessness that makes Donovan the player through which SOU's title hopes in the NAIA tournament will run.
"If you just have the talent side, but you don't have the character side, you're not going to get very far," Pistole said, "You're going to win some games, but you're not going to have people buy into you."
In a year about improvement, Donovan and the Raiders now look to build on last year's NAIA World Series appearance with a dog pile on the mound next week in Clermont, Florida.