For Academy of Art University Softball, the 2014 season was one of development. A young roster relied heavily on the efforts of its upperclassmen and many breakout offensive performances were among the highlights.
ART U started its 2014 campaign by facing a pair of California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) opponents, Humboldt State and nearby SF State, in early February. Elise Oldham
had three RBI's in that four-game stretch as the Knights lost two one-run games before capturing a 3-2 victory over the Gators (Feb. 12
) behind key hits from Lauren Stover
and Taylor Thurman
in Academy of Art's first win of the season.
The Knights soon began PacWest play by splitting an offense-filled doubleheader (8-9 L, 10-8 W
) at Notre Dame De Namur on Feb. 22. ART U scored 18 runs and had 25 hits with production up and down the lineup. Back home for a twinbill hosting Central Washington on Feb. 23
, the Knights tied their season-high for runs scored in a 12-10 victory that saw Jasmine Dickenson
register four of the team's season-high 17 hits and drive in two of her teammates.
As rain continued to play havoc with what was supposed to be a home-heavy first third of the season, Academy of Art ended up traveling to Seaside for its doubleheader with Cal State Monterey Bay before a trip to Hawaii and participation in the Tournament of Champions kept the Knights away from their home field for more than 45 days.
On the islands for PacWest matchups with Hawaii Hilo, Hawaii Pacific, Chaminade, and BYU Hawaii, ART U won its first game against Hilo
behind four hits from Elyse Cordova
and three runs scored by Dickenson. They would split each of their final three gamedays, taking a 4-3 win from Hawaii Pacific (Mar. 16
), routing Chaminade 12-3 (Mar. 18
), and edging BYU-Hawaii 8-7 (Mar. 20
). Thurman would capture the first of two PacWest Player of the Week
honors after hitting .522 with 14 RBIs in the final six games of the trip.
ART U returned to the mainland and swept Holy Names (8-1, 6-2
) on Mar. 28 behind dominant pitching performances from Carlee Emerson
and Jill Johnson
. Emerson threw a complete game with one unearned run allowed while Johnson surrendered just two runs and Alexa Peters
had a 1.2 inning no-hit appearance in relief.The first four of the Knights' six-game slate at the Tournament of Champions in Turlock were decided by two runs or less. The Knights lost games to Cal State San Bernardino, Cal State Monterey Bay, and Sonoma State with the lone tournament win, a 6-5 win over Northwest Nazarene
, which Andrea Gill
had four hits and scored the winning run on Haily MacDonald
Academy of Art then finally returned home and wrapped up the season sweep of Holy Names with 8-7 and 11-5 victories
on Apr. 9. That would start a nine-day homestand which featured Azusa Pacific, Cal State East Bay, and Notre Dame De Namur. ART U fought hard, but fell against APU and CSUEB before righting the ship in the finale hosting NDNU. Kamyle Glover
and Elyse Cordova
each had two hits and two RBIs in the 6-3 win on Apr. 18
The last two road games for the Knights ended with a split at Dominican in which steady offense through the first three innings helped Academy of Art build its 4-2 victory
. McDonald had three hits, including a triple and had a run scored in the win.
ART U would then end their season with eight PacWest games at home in Brisbane. Following a 10-8 and 9-1 sweep of Notre Dame De Namur
that saw Cordova deliver five RBIs, the Knights' offense would flex its muscles scoring a total of 20 runs despite losses to #21 California Baptist and #15 Dixie State. The rain-rescheduled season finale saw Dominican prevail over Academy of Art, finishing the Knights' overall record at 16-34 (13-19 in PacWest).
Recognizing the accomplishments on the offensive side, the conference honored three Knights for the All-PacWest Team
. Glover was named to the First Team while Thurman and Cordova were each part of the Second Team.
"Our second season was a season of growth," former co-head coach Sami Strinz said. "There are always new ideas and philosophies once you have a coaching change and the second year is usually an evolutionary year. We saw some huge growth with our returners offensively and that was very exciting, particularly Kamyle, Taylor, Haily and Jasmine."
Glover, a junior, finished second on the team in batting average (.400), runs scored (36), and tied for fourth in RBIs (21). She finished 10th in the PacWest in batting average, while also starring in the classroom with a 2014 Capital One Academic All-District Softball Team
Thurman, a junior, led the PacWest Conference with 52 RBIs and finished third on the team in batting average (.374). She was sixth in the conference in doubles (15), 11th overall in home runs (5), and 13th in slugging percentage (.568). She also became the program's new single-season RBI record holder.Cordova, a senior, led the team with a .407 batting average (9th in PacWest) along with 33 runs scored, 13 doubles, 27 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases (10th in PacWest). She serves as the program's career leader in runs scored (136), hits (255), triples (7), stolen bases (57), and outfield assists (20). Fellow senior Lauren Stover
closed out her career as the program's doubles leader (42).
"Stover and E are true pioneers for ART U Softball," Coach Strinz said. "E led by example by working hard and setting a standard for hustle. Stover led by with physical and vocal leadership. They have laid the groundwork for the future of our program to build upon."
Although the Urban Knights will find themselves under a new coaching staff next year, the future is certainly bright for this young team after the experience they gained this season.