Follow The Saints And Their World Series Journey Through The Eyes Of Hilary Cox

 

Sunday, May 30, 2010 (11:47 PM EST) - What an incredible journey. Words cannot begin to describe the feelings I am going through. Every now and then, it hits me. I think, “Ok enjoy tomorrow because it’s back to practice the next day,” then reality starts to set in. This season is in the record books, done, complete. That is when things get hard.

We just didn’t have our best stuff with us this week. It’s hard to think about it and wish that you could do things different, because we can’t. But if I could, I wish I could go back with the same team and try it one more time. Metro State played a great, hard fought game and we just came up on the losing end. Yes, we wanted to win a National Championship; but when I look back at what we accomplished, I can’t help but be proud. My team won 51 games in a row, four short of tying a national record. We won a Peach Belt regular season and tournament championship. We won a South East Regional championship. We won 51 games in a row, wow!

I am so thankful for the opportunity I have had to experience this season with this team. I would go to war any day with these girls. What an amazing group. To the coaches: thank you guys for all of the sacrifices and hard work you have put into building this program. Without you, we would not be competing at the level we are. I hope that you know that you have made a difference in our lives. To my teammates: Wow, what a journey. We started this year with a cookout at Kaelin and Scooty’s house and we ended it flying home on a tiny airplane praying that we touch the ground again. A journey it has been; one that I will carry with me forever. The friendships, the laughs, the tears, the sweat and the blood will forever be with me. We couldn’t have done this without each other. Thank you to our four seniors, Jessica Skeels, Courtney McGuire, Leslee Smith and Laura Voyles for building this program from the ground up at the NCAA level. Without all of your hard work, we would not have experienced this much success. To Allison Harris: Your generosity, patience, kindness and hard work have spoiled each one of us throughout the years. You are an amazing person and you will do amazing things in your life. Good luck next and GO ROCKY TOP!

I am extremely saddened by what happened at the College World Series, but we were given some of the greatest opportunities because of our success this year. All of the media coverage put our university and program on the map. Some of our teammates were able to fly for the first time and we all experienced a chartered flight on the way home. We truly are appreciative of all of your support throughout the year. I hope that my team has made our university proud, our town proud and most importantly, our families proud. Thank you for allowing me to spill my thoughts and feelings to you guys during the past week. I am so proud of what we accomplished and I cannot wait to get back out there and put on a Saint’s uniform again. I hope to see each one of you next year when we lace it up and go for another title run! GO SAINTS!!!!!
 

 

 

Saturday, May 29, 2010 (4:18 PM CST) - At the beginning of this season, our team set a few goals. We wanted to win the regular season Peach Belt, win the Peach Belt Tournament, Host NCAA Regionals and Super Regionals, make it to the College World Series and win a National Championship. Our goal was not to go undefeated throughout the season. We have one goal left to accomplish and we will. The loss yesterday stung a little bit, there is no doubt about it. Yesterday, we quite possibly played one of the worst games of the season, great timing I know. But the good thing about yesterday is that the pressure is off. Now, we can go out and put everything we have on the line and know that the final moments of this amazing season are slowly coming to an end.

Throughout the season, Coach told us repeatedly that this season was a marathon, not a sprint. Every game, we have to go out there and grind. We have grown as a team and that is all we can ask for. We have always put ourselves in a position to succeed. Our backs may be up against the wall, but what do we have to lose? We still have fight and we still have determination. We are ready.

We are heading out soon to go see a movie around 11:45 then we are grabbing some lunch. Coach and Brad are going to go watch the game that determines who we play. We are staying relaxed right now, trying to take our mind off things. Today is a new day and we have to forget about yesterday. We aren’t looking at who we play, but when we play. The Saints take the field tonight at 7:30. I hope that you guys will all be there in full force!! We need every ounce of your energy and your support. This is a team effort. We can do it, we will do it; one game at a time. GO SAINTS!!!! WHO DAT?

 

 

Friday, May 28, 2010 (10:49 AM CST) - Hello who dat nation! Yesterday started and ended with fireworks. We opened up the 2010 College World Series with a win over Molloy College. During pregame team introductions, some of you may have seen us throw something on the ground. After practice on Monday, Coach made us all grab a handful of dirt from our field and put it in a bucket. The infielders all grabbed some dirt from their positions while the outfielders took grass from their spots. After we finished, the seniors then went, individually out their spots and had a moment to themselves. Once the bucket was full, Allie packaged it all up for the trip to Missouri.  So, during introductions, we decided to bring a little bit of NG to MO.

The game was awesome. We got out of a first inning jam after a heads up play from the infield. We knew we had the momentum going into our half of the inning. Laura Voyles stepped up huge for us. After her fourth pitch, she belted a home run to center field to give us confidence and the lead. That was when we started to run into adversity head on. We had a string of batters, myself included, that struggled to swing at strikes and chased balls. However, Sarah Phillips kept us in the game while our offense found its rhythm. Courtney McGuire belted another solo home run and hit a triple during the game. We finally pushed two more runs across and went on to win the game. After the game, Coach reminded us that it doesn’t have to be pretty at this point. We have to push through adversity and grind every game out. We continue to focus on the fact that we do not have to win every game here, but we do have to win on Monday. If we win the last game, well you guys know what that means. 

Today we are leaving for breakfast/lunch at 11:00 am. We will head to the field around 2:00 for warm ups before taking on Valdosta State. They will be a tough team but if we play NG softball, we have a chance, and that’s all we can ask for. I hope that all of you at home continue to cheer for us and pull us through! We love you guys, you are the best!

I’ll be back on here after the game tonight. Until then, GO SAINTS!!!! WHO DAT?

 

 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 (11:06 PM CST) - Hello everyone!!! Today was such an eventful day, I am just getting a chance to sit down and update all of you. Our day started at 7:00 am with breakfast from the hotel. After that, we made our way to the complex where we will play this week. We were able to spend one hour on the game field and then an additional hour on a practice field. This morning was the first time we caught a glimpse of some of the other teams that we will be competing against this week. After practice was over, we took a group photo for the tournament (We looked good!)

We finished around 10:30 and made the short drive back to our hotel where we were able to relax and cool off for about two hours. Some of the team walked to the gas station across the street and then we came back and just hung around the hotel. We headed to the team BBQ provided by the NCAA. The DJ required each team to request one song and then they had to sing another song. As a team, we sang the old classic, “No Scrubs” by TLC. We sounded pretty decent, considering the fact that we had no lyrics to read from.

After karaoke and lunch, we had to complete a community service project. We had the opportunity of teaching about 40 7th and 8th graders offensive skills. The team split up into four different stations and the girls rotated amongst all of us. Once we were finished, we gave all of the girls official NCAA softballs for them to keep. We also gave them NG goodies (thanks to the bookstore)!!! Most of the girls got their softballs signed by the team, while others got posters signed. Each girl received a free ticket to the tournament so we are hoping to see some of their faces in the crowd this weekend!

Once we finished with the camp, we came back home to prepare for the banquet of champions. It is so much fun getting dressed up for banquets because all of the girls always look so beautiful and completely different than we do on the field! The banquet was amazing! This year, we received a digital photo frame from the NCAA customized with the softball championship logo! The food was amazing (it was the first time we didn’t have to eat after a banquet!) For our team introductions, Whitney Holman wrote a song and performed it on her guitar. It was an amazing performance! I hope to download the entire thing to YouTube at some point. It was awesome to see all of the different talents amongst all of the teams. You can also tell that we all share a lot of similarities. I heard that the team from Hawaii had a 27 hour trip just to get here!!! That made our six-hour trip feel like a cat nap!

Tomorrow starts the reason why we are here. We are meeting for breakfast at 9:00 a.m. and business starts then. We are focused, we are determined, we are hungry, and we are ready.  We set a goal back in August and we are four games away from achieving that goal. There is a feeling of excitement in the air, but it is all business as usual. This team is ready for tomorrow and I am confident that we have been prepared to compete at the highest level possible. I am so excited to finally get out there on that field!

I heard that North Georgia is showing the game in the gym tomorrow and I hope that all of you back in Dahlonega will go watch the game together! We are all so thankful for everything right now! We really appreciate what you guys are doing for us. I hope that tomorrow we will make each of you proud. GO SAINTS!!!!! WHO DAT?


 

 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010 (11:58 PM CST) - Greetings from St. Joseph, Missouri! I wanted to start out and give all of you a recap of our busy day thus far. We departed from NGCSU this morning at 6:00 am and our bus, driven by our favorite bus driver, Mr. Tom, was sandwiched between two NGCSU police officers. We all got a kick out of watching cars pull over on the side of the road just for us. Thank you Chief Stapleton and your officers for always making us feel special! We arrived at the world’s busiest airport around 7:30 and quickly unloaded. We were whisked away to a different check in desk so we could all go through the line together. During this time, Coach Davenport, Katherine Martin and Jessica Skeels were all interviewed by the local media. (The coverage lately has been amazing and we appreciate every opportunity we get to have our faces on television!) After checking in all of our bags, we made our way to security.

Getting everyone through security was quite a sight! Mixed in throughout all of the business suits, colorful vacation attire, and security personnel, there were young ladies dressed in NG softball attire. We were scattered out everywhere at one point. With the security level very high, several members of our group had to be scanned and some even searched.  I remember seeing Whitney Holman, our freshman who had ACL surgery recently, being detained and searched with a wand. We were wondering if the security officer noticed her huge brace on her knee and maybe that was the cause of the problem. Eventually, however, Whitney made her way to the group and we boarded the tram and headed for the gate.

We arrived at the gate about two hours before our scheduled flight. We quickly dispersed and went to grab some breakfast. Once everyone ate, some played cards, some slept and some even colored. It wasn’t until our plane arrived at the gate that some of my teammates started to get nervous. About thirty minutes before we were scheduled to board, I found Leslee Smith, the only member of the Saint’s softball team who hasn’t flown, glued to the window watching our plane. She told me she hoped they filled up the plane with enough gas. We eventually boarded the plane and took off for our destination, Kansas City! The flight went very well. We even received several good lucks and gained new fans during the flight.  There was some mix up when we arrived in Kansas City with some of our bags. Luckily, they were all found, safe under the plane still, and we loaded up and headed to lunch.

That leads me to this point now in my hotel room. Everyone seemed to be pretty tired once we arrived at the hotel, so Coach is letting us rest and just hang out for a few hours, as tomorrow will be an eventful day! I am sure that after dinner tonight, it will start to sink in that we are finally here. But until that time, I want to share a simple story with you.

Lately, the congratulatory messages and well wishes have been piling up in my inbox. Today, however, I found a message from a friend that simply said, “I thought you would enjoy this.” I read the article and couldn’t help but fight back tears. The story was empowering and encouraging. It was just a little reminder of the impact that you can make in someone’s life, no matter how small your actions appear at the time. I hope that while we are here, each one of you know that you have made an impact on this team at some point. From your encouraging words to sitting at our games cheering us on, you have all impacted us. I hope that this week, our team can make each and every one of you proud. Just know, that we are playing for all of you; we truly feel your love.

I just want to take a second and wish everyone safe travels. I know that most of our families will be making the journey to St. Joe tomorrow at some point. Please everyone be careful and know that we do not take your sacrifices for granted. Thank you for all that you do for us and we love you!

Tomorrow is sure to be a busy day! I can’t wait to update you guys on our experiences! From St. Joseph, Missouri to Dahlonega, Georgia the sea of blue is starting to stretch!  GO SAINTS!!! WHO DAT?

 

 

Monday, May 24, 2010 (11:15 PM EST) - It’s hard sometimes to look back on the past and fully appreciate what you have accomplished. I am at a loss for words at this point when it comes to my team and the success we have experienced this year.  I think back to when our season began, the first day of RBI week. I remember hearing Coach Davenport tell us during one of our 6:00 a.m. runs, that for a certain road, it was ok to walk. I think back to the month of January, and every, single, practice each day.  I think back to the time we answered trivia questions right and had to only run 8 hills, instead of 10. I remember all of the times our designated hitter, Leslee Smith, tried to convince Coach to make us only run two polls, instead of six. I remember all of the laughs, all of the tears, and all of the hard work we put in as a team.  It was in those moments, that our team united and became a family.

Today, for the first time, reality hit me a little bit. We had our final practice at Haines & Carolyn Hill Stadium for the 2010 season. For our four seniors, Courtney McGuire, Jessica Skeels, Leslee Smith and Laura “Lupis” Voyles, this was one last time for them to leave their mark on the North Georgia softball program. On our final two polls of our regular warm up jog, I watched the four of them finish together. Not only was it the final polls they will have to run at “The Hill” (for those of you who do not know, North Georgia softball = running poles) but it was a moment of accomplishment for the four of them. Just like last weekend was at the NCAA Super Regional’s.

We knew that Lenoir-Rhyne was going to be a tough team. From what we had heard, our pitching staff was going to have to be perfect that weekend and our hitters were going to have to be on fire. Luckily, we had both. Sarah Phillips, our junior pitcher, pitched an amazing game Saturday. I feel as though her performance was overshadowed by the production of the offense. Those two games were amazing to watch and be a part of. Not only were there hundreds and hundreds of fans pulling us through, but my team flipped a switch Saturday and decided to put on a performance of a lifetime. From the freshman, Callie Fernandez, falling face first after crossing first base and hustling to second, to Ansley Anderson getting her pants split open in the dog pile, the weekend was definitely one to remember. The reality of what we accomplished hasn’t sank in and probably won’t for a while.

Tomorrow morning we will leave Dahlonega and depart for St. Joseph, Missouri. Few of my teammates know anything about the show me state (some of them even asked what direction it was in) but one thing is for certain, we know that there is a National Championship that can be won. Win or lose, people say this season will go down as one of the most amazing accomplishments ever. But for me and my team, only one thing can make this season a success.  The hard work, the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears will all finally be worth it when we land in Kansas City. To our fans: THANK YOU! Without you and the incredible support you have shown, we will not be here today. To our family: You guys are our rock and back bone. You have made us who we are and have allowed us to be in this position. We love you and we thank you.  To my team: I love you guys and I cannot wait to see what is in store this next week.

I am so proud to be a SAINT and I can’t wait to see that sea of blue in MO next week! Until tomorrow, GO SAINTS!!!