Ashton Nix, Sports Editor
The Samford softball team captured its first-ever Southern Conference regular season championship last year. As Jessica Stone struck out the final UNCG batter and the team rushed the field, Abbie Miranda flung her helmet skyward without a second thought as to where it would land.
Abby Sweeney found out.
The airborne helmet crashed down onto Sweeney’s face, breaking her nose and deviating her septum.
No one would’ve criticized the then junior for sitting out the SoCon tournament in order to heal.
That wasn’t Sweeney’s plan.
“Absolutely not,” Miranda said. “She was determined to keep going.”
Sweeney played the entire tournament, and she played hard. She held strong to her position behind home plate as catcher. She produced both of the Bulldogs’ runs in their semifinal win over Mercer. Then, in the championship game, she recorded an early RBI that spurred her team to a 4-3 victory. When the dust settled, Sweeney found herself on the All-Tournament team, deviated septum and all.
“She is a leader that is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win in any situation,” Miranda said.
Sweeney picked up a bat at age 4, but she didn’t immediately know that she would play softball. She also competed in basketball and soccer until age 10. It was the performance of Cat Osterman, a University of Texas pitcher, in the 2003 World Series that eliminated all other sports from Sweeney’s mind.
“I remember thinking that they were so good and getting excited about the thought of competing at that level,” Sweeney said. “That’s when I decided, ‘I want to play college softball.’”
She began her collegiate career at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, but transferred after one semester.
Sweeney hasn’t regretted the move for a moment.
“I love it here,” Sweeney said. “I love Samford because I would like to go here even if I didn’t get to play softball. The friends that I’ve made here are like the friends that you dream of having for a lifetime. It was definitely a God thing.”
In her final season as a Bulldog, Sweeney, along with her four fellow seniors, has had to take the reigns of a team dominated by underclassmen. She’s stepped up to the plate.
She’s currently batting .307 this season, including six home runs and 30 RBIs.
Her production has helped propel Samford to a 6-3 start in SoCon play. The Bulldogs only conference series loss this was to Furman–their opponent in last year’s conference championship game.
Nevertheless, Sweeney has the utmost confidence in what lies ahead.
“If we play to our full potential, we can win conference,” Sweeney said. “That’s really our main goal right now, is to win out the rest of the regular season and really bring it once the tournament starts.”