The Shippensburg University softball team caught only a small glimpse of their play on the field before their season was canceled due to the coronavirus.
What they saw has junior Courtney Coy thinking about a PSAC title.
The Raiders’ 2020 season began with a well-played 1-0 loss to No. 17-ranked St. Anselm in the third game of the Snowbird Softball Freeze Out in February, and the Raiders continued their strong play with a 10-4 record over their first 14 contests.
Coy helped to fuel the Raiders’ fast start. The former conference Freshman of the Year and two-time All-PSAC selection hit .396 while splitting time between third base and pitcher. She posted a 3.25 ERA in the circle over 23.2 innings, the second highest total on the team.
“Our whole vibe was just to make a statement,” Coy said Sunday. “We worked really hard in the fall and we knew that the team that we had this year was going to be one of the strongest in the PSAC. We took every game as if it were a playoff game, that was kind of our outlook on each day. We were all on the same page of what goals we wanted [to accomplish], and where we wanted to end up.”
Unfortunately, those goals have to wait, as the conclusion of the NCAA spring season was canceled March 13, before the Raiders got the chance to play a single home game.
“It was disappointing because we had worked so hard and we were only just now getting started,” Coy mentioned. “Our first 14 games we had made an impact and I think people were worried about playing us. We had all this talent that we tapped into early in the season. We knew that we could do big things, and it was upsetting also because we didn’t get to spend our last season together with our seniors.”
Shippensburg University softball head coach Alison Van Scyoc pointed to that early season game against nationally ranked St. Anselm as a jumping off point for the Raiders, were they turned the corner from an around .500 record their previous two seasons (25-22 in 2019 and 22-19 in 2018) into legitimate title contenders.
“It was a fantastic game, despite the loss,” Van Scyoc said. “From that moment on, our team realized they had a lot of potential and played like they expected to win every game. We have a very explosive offensive team that has both speed and power. Our pitching staff had another year of opportunity to develop, and though we missed out on games, we saw some very early growth.”
The abrupt cancellation of the season and the subsequent shutdown of in-person classes has given Coy a lot of time to self-reflect, work out and think of ways to better connect with her teammates.
“You don’t know what to do with your time,” she stated. “I’ve never really had this time to do nothing. I’ve been outdoors the whole time. I go fishing a lot. I do a lot of outdoorsy stuff because I just can’t sit inside. It just eats at you, especially on game days — the games we are supposed to be playing. We all text each other and say, ‘Let’s go get the win today,’ as a joke to lighten things up.”
One thing is for certain, the lost season has done little to dampen the expectations or the excitement for the team for next spring.
“With the whole thing ending, it just put a fire under our butts,” Coy said. “We’re angry, but we know it is what had to be done, but I think we are really ready to come back out [next year].
“I absolutely expect us to pick up right where we left off,” Van Scyoc stated. “We return a bulk of our lineup and we will be adding significant depth in the pitching circle. My expectations are to return with the same winning mentality and expectation to compete every day at practice and in competition.”
Coy, a 2017 graduate of Shippensburg Area Senior High School, has made a tremendous impact since joining her hometown Raiders.
She followed up her PSAC East Freshman of the Year campaign in 2018 with a Shippensburg University softball record 22 doubles in 2019. She was one of three Raiders to start every game and ranked seventh in the PSAC in hits (62) and slugging percentage (.662) and eighth in RBIs (43). She was well on her way toward another fine season in 2020.
Coy surprised even herself with her early success, and she has since developed into a team leader and one of the Raiders’ most consistent offensive threats.
“Coming in, I really didn’t know what my role was going to be. I knew that I was going to be a utility player,” Coy recalled. “My first year taught me a lot, I grew up a lot. I was one of the youngest players on the team and my teammates gave me an opportunity to grow along with my coaches.”
She continued, “My success in college, I would credit to my coaches. I can’t thank my coaches enough for even giving me the opportunity to play here. The coaches, my family and my teammates are all amazing. We are always getting texts every other day that read, ‘Hey, do you want to get some extra cuts?,’ or ‘Hey, do you want to get extra reps?’ It’s nice having that support system. You build a family there and it’s great that everyone wants to see you succeed.”
Van Scyoc lauded Coy’s talent and commitment to winning, and labeled her a significant factor in changing the team’s culture into a “team-first” program.
“She has evolved in that she has become a very selective hitter,” said the SU head coach. “She understands aspects of the game like momentum shifts and how positive energy impacts team play. I believe she has always been the ‘clutch’ player throughout her career, but even on a bigger stage, she has continued to manage to come through with timely hits, big defensive plays, and game-changing moments. She puts in the work behind the scenes, which is why she is successful. She has bought into the idea that success comes when no one is looking. Her attention to detail and commitment to leadership has propelled her to be one of the most feared hitters in the PSAC.”