ASHLAND, Ore. — Southern Oregon softball is coming off the most historic season ever. But now they’re turning their eyes towards the season ahead of them.
“This is a place that we are going to every day have a work ethic that considers a national title something you do at practice, it’s something you do every single day,” Head Coach Mike Mayben said.
Southern Oregon University’s softball team has a reputation around Ashland. For the past three years, they’ve gone to the NAIA world series for the past three years and last year won the first-ever national championship title for women’s sports at SOU.
“We’re just out here having fun, doing what we do and we’re playing sou softball and we’re just going to do the best we can and our goal is to do what we did last year, but make it our year,” Catcher, Allie Stines said.
As a team that accomplished so much, they’re working to step out from the shadow of the past to write a new story.
“Our goal is to not let last year go but leave it in the past, yes we won a national championship but our goal is to play as long as we can this year,” Pitcher, Gabby Sandoval said. “Being a senior that hits home, you just want to play to your best ability until you can’t play anymore.”
“This is exciting for us to just finish out a legacy for us as seniors, we’ve watched it grow literally from beginning to end, so it’s exciting. It’s bittersweet for sure, that it’s our last but we’re so excited to finish this chapter strong like we started it,” Infielder, Paige Leeper said.
This particular set of girls is fully loaded with experience. With seven seniors, five who’ve been with the team since they were freshmen, and nine juniors. The program has role models for the future.
“You don’t realize how hard everybody works and that’s what SOU softball is known for. We work so hard and we put our everything into every practice, and I think that legacy will carry on until we’re long gone,” Sandoval said.
Now they’re hoping to leave a tradition of excellence for younger players to look up to.
“As a freshman, you work really hard but as a senior your work even harder so that the classes below you understand its a consistent growing and a work ethic,” Mayben said.
“I think it makes girls that want to come here that much more excited because they saw that we could do it and they want to be apart of it. They make sure they’re doing everything possible so we can do it again this year,” Leeper said.
Devin Gooden graduated from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with a Master’s degree in Sports Journalism.
She has spent most of her life in Atlanta, Georgia and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia in Business Management.
When she’s not reporting, Devin practices yoga, reads thriller novels and loudly cheers for her beloved Georgia Bulldawgs.