It was the perfect way for the Augusta softball seniors to go out.
The Orioles accomplished what no team in Augusta has ever done, something they didn't necessarily believe would happen at the start of the season.
"I'm impressed. I never saw it coming, but it's been a great year," said senior Courtney Phillips.
The Orioles' final hurdle was a home doubleheader against Buhler Monday. Augusta's offense crushed anything the Crusaders threw at them for a total of 17 hits and a 15-0 run-rule win after three innings. In the regular-season finale, Casady Marlnee crushed a 3-run homer to center field to spark the Orioles to an 11-3 win.
And just like that, they did it. The Orioles finished the regular season with a perfect 18-0 record. The wins on Senior Night capped a remarkable run of dominance by Augusta.
"It's amazing. Just from where we started out to where we are now," senior Madie Becker said. "If you had told me at the beginning of the year that we were going to be 18-0, I would have been like 'You're crazy.'"
The Orioles set a team record for most consecutive wins in a single season, beating a previous mark of 16 by a team that went on to win the state championship. Nine of the Orioles' victories were run-rule wins. They had double-digit scoring in 12 of 18 games. Augusta came within one home run (19) of tying the team record of 20 in a season.
"I think it's awesome, especially when people doubted us, thinking that we weren't going to be that good," senior Kalie Robinson said.
All the seniors gave credit directly to first-year coach Shane Steinkamp, who has invigorated the team by pushing them mentally and physically, and raising their expectations.
"At the very first practice, we had a lot of work to do," senior Destiny Williams said. "But from the first game, we came out and played our hearts out, and looks where it's gotten us."
Steinkamp said it felt great to know that his seniors love coming to work every practice. They've adapted to his fast pace. When he made changes at critical parts of the season, every Oriole embraced her role, no matter the change.
"They've bought in to what we've done. And I've pushed them. I pushed them mentally, physically. I pushed them to limits I don't think they knew they had. I think that's where some of our success is. They buy into it." said Steinkamp.
Monday's wins were perfect capsules of how dominant their season has been. In Game 1, all nine Orioles had at least one hit. Six of them had two or more hits. Katy Nordman was 2-for-3 with a double and two RBIs. Brooke Eberhardt had two hits and three RBIs. Morgan Kirk and Williams both were a perfect 3-for-3. Robinson had two hits and two RBIs.
In Game 2. Kirk, Abby Tipton and Robinson all were 3-for-4. Robinson—who had a double and a triple—Eberhardt and Marlnee all had three RBIs. Senior Alie Divine got on base and scored her only time at the plate.
"This is my first year being on varsity. And being able to see what we can do and what we can be, I'm proud to be on the team," Divine said.
Though the postseason starts next week, the Orioles can't help but feel giddy. This is a ride they won't soon forget.
"We thought 12-0 felt good," senior Jenna Lynch said. "Now we're at 18-0, and that feels a lot better."
"...There's so many things wrapped into a game that have to happen for you to get to this point at 18-0. But the thing I tell them is they've earned it because they've created their own situations," Steinkamp said.