Morgan Beshears and Amanda Hawkins, two softball players from somewhat rival schools in Alcovy and Eastside respectively, put their efforts together to help lift the University of North Georgia to a Division-ll National Championship, the first in North Georgia school history.
“Even still it doesn’t feel real,” Hawkins said. “I think it’s always been a dream of all of us to get there in our career, but I don’t think we ever really thought that we would make it that far. Now that we have it’s just very surreal.”
“It was very exciting and we had support from our community, from the county waiting on us when we got back home and it was just very exciting. We’ve just felt very supported, it made it a lot easier,” Beshears added.
Hawkins is a junior catcher and a career .262 hitter. She played in almost half the team’s games this year but dealt with a number of injuries this year and didn’t play because of them. Still, Hawkins cheered on her team from the dugout and saw the game in a completely different way.
“Not being able to play this season it really makes you see the game from the outside. On the field you’re tied up in the game and how many outs, it’s the little things, but when you take a step back and you’re seeing it all from the dugout you really see the bigger picture,” Hawkins said. “You see how hard the whole team works and even the coaches. It really puts things in perspective as far as how hard the team really works and what we actually deserve as a team.”
Hawkins says her goal was to keep the entire team motivated by cheering loudly and keeping everyone’s spirits up. Beshears shared a role in this, as she’s just a freshman catcher with upperclassmen talent in front of her.
“We all are very supportive of our teammates. We cheered and encouraged them when they got down and just kept their spirits up through the whole thing. We had each other’s back, no matter what,” Beshears said.
The journey for the title started early. As Hawkins says the team had a championship mindset all season, but when they lost the first game of the tournament their championship hopes dwindled slightly.
“I think were a little taken back, a little surprised. I think we needed that,” Hawkins said of the loss. “I think we needed to get hit in the mouth a little bit to kind of get our act together and then realize what we need to do. We needed to do a lot better than how we played in the first game to actually go as far as we think we should go.”
“On this team we call it season-by-season, so when we play conference our goal was to win conference. Then when we made it to regionals, our goal was to win regionals. So we just took it with each season and then when we finally made it to the world series it became each game. So we were trying to win each game and then finally making it to the championship game,” Hawkins added proudly.
The Nighthawks scored zero runs in their first game of the world series, but managed to score at least seven in three of their final four games.
“After our first loss we just got back out on the field and it made us want to win even more,” Beshears said. “We just got after it. We started playing North Georgia softball, and we started hitting the ball.”
“We just started motivating each other. When one person got a hit, we all got a hit. It’s kind of like a domino effect. It just seemed like the whole team kind of turned on after that first game and we just became unstoppable, really,” Hawkins added.
Both Beshears and Hawkins know they have work to do if they intend to help the team repeat next year, and they’re equally up to the task.
“I’m gonna work hard this summer,” Hawkins said. “With my physical growth and mental growth I hope that I can go into my senior year with a very determined and positive attitude and just be in the lineup next year and be able to help my team win another national championship.”
“Our seniors and our upperclassmen really helped set the goal for next year also,” Beshears said. “We want to be able to do the same thing, so that’s our goal next year too.”