CLERMONT, Florida--The biggest reason for SOU softball's success this season has been its oldest and its youngest players.
Harlee Donovan and Kelsey Randall are now household names, as they've become two of the best players in the NAIA during their seniors seasons.
But another group of players has been just as important in getting the Raiders to the NAIA World Series for the second year in a row.
SOU's four freshman starters—Hannah Shimek, Olivia Mackey, Tayler Walker and Avery Morehead-Hutsell—are shinning in their first taste of college softball.
“It shows how much depth we have as a team and how much everybody trusts each other and how much coach trusts us,” said Shimek, the Raiders' second baseman.
“Having this role is amazing and I love it," Walker, the team's first baseman, said. "I want to be there for my teammates and be a good teammate.”
It's a lot to ask of four players who were in high school a year ago and are now playing on the biggest stage in the NAIA. Yet none of them seem too overcome by the moment.
“I don’t think it’s surprising at all that we’re here because our hard work paid off," said outfielder Olivia Mackey.
“Harlee (Donovan) always says not to keep our lows too low and our highs too high, so that was my mindset coming into this week," Walker said. "Just making sure that we’re at that steady, constant pace and just not making this too big and keeping it at what it is."
SOU squares off against Marian at 3 p.m. PT on Friday. Tune in to NewsWatch 12 at 6 and 11 for postgame coverage.