Women’s softball set a Big South record with its fifth conference title this year (Photo courtesy of Todd Drexler/

Longwood made softball history in the Big South Conference this year with a record-setting fifth conference championship. With each of those five titles coming in the last seven years, Longwood has cemented its status as an unparalleled Big South softball dynasty.

Under the guidance of head coach Kathy Riley, the Lancers won the 2019 Big South regular season and then cruised through the championship tournament.

For the six seniors on the team, the NCAA Tournament marked the end of a remarkable run.

This year’s conference championship earned the Lancers another bid to the NCAA Regional, giving Longwood softball five of the university’s six NCAA postseason appearances since the university moved up to Division I in 2004. All five of softball’s NCAA berths have come in the past seven years: 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019.

The most recent trip came on the strength of a season-long run of dominance through the Big South in which the Lancers won every conference series and lost just one game in the Big South Championship Tournament.

Karleigh Donovan ’19, a sociology major, was named Big South Tournament Most Valuable Player, bringing the total of softball alumnae earning that honor to four: Libby Morris ’15 was recognized twice, in 2013 and 2015; Sydney Gay ’19, a kinesiology major, in 2016; and Elizabeth McCarthy ’17 in 2017. Also named to the All-Tournament team were Sydney Backstrom ’21, a physics major; Kaylynn “Bug” Batten ’19, a biology major; and Jordan Clark ’19, a sociology major.

For the six seniors on the team, the NCAA Tournament marked the end of a remarkable run. As a class, that group captured three Big South Championships and two regular-season Big South Championships, while helping Longwood advance to a pair of NCAA Regional Championship games and four consecutive 30-win seasons. In addition to Donovan, Batten, Clark and Gay, the group includes Jessica Smith ’19, a kinesiology major, and Chelsea Whitcomb ’19, a graduate student in business.

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