VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — As the Virginia Wesleyan softball team pulled into campus by bus Monday afternoon as Amherst Region champs, you could sense they had reached a comfortable level of swagger. Not that it was never there, but the Marlins got over another hurdle in the NCAA Division III tournament this past weekend. "The atmosphere has stayed the same" said senior infielder Julia Sinnett. "The joy that we all have together has always been there in this program."
Fellow senior and outfielder, Ariana Rolle felt they're just getting started. "We're definitely not done yet. I feel like we get better as we keep going so I feel like we're ready to show our best self at the right time." Marlins head coach, Brandon Elliott, who's guided his team to three national titles in the last four years, agreed his team was going through an identity crisis. Several key players from last year's national title team were gone due to graduation that included pitcher Hanna Hull who was the school's all-time wins leader. "There's no doubt we hit some bumps in the road", he said. "I think we got away from trusting each other."
Problems were there back in March when Virginia Wesleyan hosted then number one and archrival Christopher Newport. The Captains struck early wound up with a 6-1 win. There will be rematch when the two square off this week on Friday and Saturday in a best of three in the Super Regional. "The target is always there", says Sinnett. "We're just going to keep doing our thing and whatever happens, happens."
You could make a case for the Marlins already having the experience at been in the position like the Captains. In Virginia Wesleyan's case, they won it all. "We know the pressure is on them", says starter Emily Seale. "Because we had to live up to it last year being number one, but I think we're going to go in there and battle." They do so being in a better place as a team.