Lynchburg Sports Team of Distinction: 2008 Softball

Lynchburg College logo on white background. Text: 2008 softball Lynchburg sports team of distinction

Lynchburg, Va. -- Nobody outside the program thought they would make it so far.

Especially with all the talent the Lynchburg College softball team lost to graduation in 2007: five starters and two All-Old Dominion Athletic Conference players, including the best offensive player in the history of the league.

But the 2008 Lynchburg softball team had its NCAA Division III regional experience the year prior -- the first NCAA tournament berth in program history -- and they came back hungry for more.

"The group that came back home after getting a taste of that worked really hard," Lynchburg head coach Dawn Simmons remembered. "They were led by that experience and that work ethic. It was like a different gear."

The 2008 Hornets won a school-record 39 games and reached the Division III World Series -- one of the last eight teams in the country. It was the first time in the institution's history that a Lynchburg team reached the final weekend of an NCAA tournament.

That 2008 softball team will be immortalized in Lynchburg athletics lore as a Lynchburg Sports Hall of Fame Team of Distinction at tonight's Alumni Awards Dinner, set for 6:30 p.m. in Burton Dining Hall, and alumni who wish to attend can register here.

"Is this really happening?" then-senior third baseman Elizabeth Perkins remembered thinking as the team got off the bus at Salem's Moyer Sports Complex.

It was the same site at which the Lynchburg team captured an ODAC title earlier that season -- the same place many of those Hornets grew up playing travel ball tournaments for countless years -- but something about the national championships was different.

"It wasn't ODACs. It wasn't even regionals," Lynchburg assistant coach Audra Della Rosa, a sophomore outfielder on that team, recalled. "It definitely was the big stage."

And that coming from a team that played on big stages already that season. The Hornets rolled through the conference tournament, starting with a four-home run first inning in the tournament opener against Bridgewater in a 15-7 win, and ending with a 4-1 championship win over Virginia Wesleyan.

"That momentum definitely took us into postseason," Simmons said.

The team then defeated nationally ranked opponents in LaGrange, Neumann, and Ursinus at the regional tournament.

"We were confident all year," Perkins said. "We did all buy in."

But that confidence came before the ODAC title, before the regional run. It came from knowing that they'd worked harder and longer in the preseason than any other team in the nation. There was a running joke in Lynchburg softball: if it was light enough to see, you'd be on the field.

"I can remember a time when you had your helmet on hitting, and there's icicles forming on your helmet," Perkins said.

It worked out for her to the tune of an All-American and ODAC player of the year season; the senior hit .425 with 11 home runs and 49 RBI in the season.

Perkins, center fielder Brittany Allsop, first baseman Tara Campbell, and pitcher Katie Bruce were all-region selections.

Bruce, a freshman, paired with Barbie Miles as a dominant one-two punch in the circle. Remembering her first collegiate season (in which she was ODAC pitcher of the year), Bruce said the key was going into collegiate ball without expectations.

"I wanted to prove to my team that I could be whatever role they needed me to play," Bruce said. "That actually helped. I didn't have a bar set. … I went in calm and collected because I'm there to do my job. I don't really have anything to compare it to."

It worked to the tune of a 1.61 earned run average and 16 complete games.

The team performed admirably in the tournament but fell 1-0 to No. 7 Muskingum and 4-0 to No. 6 Ithaca to be eliminated.

But that's not the story of the 2008 season that the team remembers. Instead, it's the practices that went deep into the night, or the pregame ritual of turning the music up and rocking the charter bus before disembarking for a ballgame.

It was fun.

"The most memorable part was the fact that we had the best chemistry," Bruce recalled. "Our senior leaders were so strong, so welcoming and open. And I think their attitudes cascaded all the way down to us as freshmen. It was a very dynamic and inclusive team."

And in the numerous times they've been together since -- from graduations to weddings to the birth of children -- that chemistry remained.

"Most of the time it's like nothing's changed," Perkins said.

This is the fifth and final piece in a series of features on the 2018 Lynchburg Sports Hall of Fame Class, which ran on LynchburgSports.com Monday, Oct. 15-Friday, Oct. 19 in the week leading up to its induction.

--LYN--

Fri Aug 30
at Liberty University Challenge
Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va. | 4k races
Fri Aug 30
3:30 PM
Mary Baldwin
vs. Lynchburg
@ Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. Route 42 Classic
Fri Aug 30
5:30 PM
Bryn Mawr
vs. Lynchburg
@ Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. Route 42 Classic
Fri Aug 30
7:00 PM
Roanoke
vs. Lynchburg
Shellenberger Classic -- Non-conference match
Sat Aug 31
10:00 AM
Meredith
vs. Lynchburg
@ Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. Route 42 Classic
Sat Aug 31
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley
vs. Lynchburg
Sat Aug 31
2:00 PM
Catholic
vs. Lynchburg
@ Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. Route 42 Classic
Sat Aug 31
3:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. Johns Hopkins
@ Salem, Va. Roanoke College Kickoff
Sun Sep 01
3:00 PM
Mt. St. Mary (N.Y.)
vs. Lynchburg
@ Salem, Va. Roanoke College Kickoff
Fri Sep 06
5:00 PM
Shenandoah
vs. Lynchburg
@ Gallaudet University, Washington, D.C. Gallaudet Tournament
View Full Schedule
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No events to show.
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Fri Aug 30
7:00 PM
Roanoke
vs. Lynchburg
Shellenberger Classic -- Non-conference match
Sat Sep 07
5:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.)
vs. Lynchburg
@ Salem, Va. Roanoke Invitational
Sun Sep 08
4:30 PM
Regent
vs. Lynchburg
Wed Sep 11
7:00 PM
Mary Washington
vs. Lynchburg
Fri Sep 13
7:00 PM
Oglethorpe
vs. Lynchburg
Wed Sep 18
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Chris. Newport
Sat Sep 21
1:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Catholic
Wed Sep 25
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee
vs. Lynchburg
Non-conference match
Sat Sep 28
6:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Roanoke
Wed Oct 02
4:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Bridgewater (Va.)
Non-conference match
Wed Oct 09
7:00 PM
Randolph-Macon
vs. Lynchburg
Sat Oct 12
7:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Hampden-Sydney
No Event
No Event
No Event
View Full Schedule
Sat Aug 31
3:00 PM
Lynchburg
vs. Johns Hopkins
@ Salem, Va. Roanoke College Kickoff
Sun Sep 01
3:00 PM
Mt. St. Mary (N.Y.)
vs. Lynchburg
@ Salem, Va. Roanoke College Kickoff
Sat Sep 07
12:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.)
vs. Lynchburg
Shellenberger Classic -- Match 1
Sun Sep 08
2:00 PM
Kalamazoo
vs. Lynchburg
Shellenberger Classic -- Match 3
Sat Sep 14
11:00 AM
Lynchburg
at Emory
Sun Sep 15
11:00 AM
Lynchburg
at Piedmont
Piedmont Invitational
Wed Sep 25
6:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Chris. Newport
Sat Sep 28
1:00 PM
Lynchburg
at Washington and Lee
Sat Oct 05
1:00 PM
Bridgewater (Va.)
vs. Lynchburg
Wed Oct 09
4:00 PM
Randolph
vs. Lynchburg
Sat Oct 12
4:00 PM
Lynchburg
at East. Mennonite
No Event
No Event
No Event
No Event
View Full Schedule