The Lady Eagles had hoped to be playing in the title game Thursday, but instead had to settle for a third-place finish.
“It still stings right now because, in our minds, we had a chance to win it all,” Crawford said. “It’s going to take a little while, but I think, once the dust settles, we will look back and see that we were third among 200 teams that play softball in the NAIA.”
Crawford said it is always a great experience for the players to compete on a national stage. He just wishes his team had one more thing go its way in the decisive game.
“We just didn’t get the ball to go our way, or the pitch to be called right, or whatever it might be,” Crawford said. “We didn’t get that one — whatever it might be — that (William Carey) did. For them, it was one hit what was a home run, and we just didn’t capitalize on opportunities.”
Despite what Crawford called a “gut-wrenching loss,” he is still proud of his team. On multiple occasions, the Lady Eagles battled back from large deficits to keep their season going.
“I don’t think the word ‘quit’ is in their vocabulary,” Crawford said. “They don’t quit. They just keep battling and making adjustments and, at the end of the game, we are where we need to be.”
Crawford was confident that his team will be able to carry the winning attitude into next season.
With just two seniors on this year’s roster, the Lady Eagles won’t look much different. Though Reinhardt will lose the offensive firepower of C.J. Browder and Katie Rietkovich, pitching ace Madison Luck will give the Lady Eagles a lot to look forward to.
“It’s the same conversation last year when Maddie Monroe graduated as the four-time pitcher of the year,” Crawford said. “We know someone else is going to step up. That is the great thing about our state. We have such good players that we can find someone to fill the voids if they aren’t on our bench already. Sure, (Browder and Rietkovich) will be missed, but I think we have the team and players coming in to fill the void.”
Crawford is already looking at a return trip to Columbus in 2015.
“We got some freshmen experience for Madison Luck and some other kids so that next year, when we go (to the World Series), if we get to go, it won’t be overwhelming,” Crawford said. “We got some experience that way.”