• Young Harris College's softball team is playing in the Division II championship in Denver starting Thursday.
    Young Harris College's softball team is playing in the Division II championship in Denver starting Thursday.

Young Harris softball team opens championship round play today

    Denver – For the first time in school history, Young Harris College won the Southeast Super Regional.
    Now, the Mountain Lions are right where they want to be.
    A 42-18 mark – second-most in school history – was capped by a 12-6 win over Lincoln Memorial University on Saturday, sending the Lions (No. 8 seed) to the NCAA Division II National Tournament, which is being held at Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Regency Athletic Center.
    “This is a new experience for each of us, but we are going to go and fight, just like we have all season,” said junior Haylie Shope, a 2016 Hiwassee Dam graduate.     
    Shope has slugged her way to the All-Peach Belt Conference First Team this year, batting .260 with nine home runs (tied for the team lead with Jill Torres) and 40 RBI.
    “There is nothing like making a deep playoff run,” Shope said. “To play collegiate athletics is an unforgettable experience in itself, but having the opportunity to compete for a national championship is a lifetime dream come true.”
    As a result, Shope and her team will meet the Long Island University Lady Pioneers (No. 1 seed, 51-11) in the first round at 1 p.m. Thursday (Eastern time).
    “I honestly did not expect this type of success when we first started training,” Shope said. “We struggled at the beginning of the season and took some tough losses, to a point where even making a regional didn’t look promising.
    “But once we made the regional, it was a clean slate from there and we went to work. Now we’re going to compete like we have all season and hope to bring home a national title.”
    The winner of Young Harris/LIU Post will face the winner of Texas A&M University Kingsville/Grand Valley State University in the national quarterfinals at 1 p.m. Friday.
    The tournament will conclude Monday.

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