photo by: Bob Smith

By Robert Wilson

       Belhaven University softball coach Kevin Griffin was at the doorstep to the NCAA Division III World Series last season, losing in the Super Regionals.

       Griffin, in his 13th season as Belhaven’s head coach, will try to take another step toward getting to the show Thursday when the Blazers play Maryville, Tenn., College in a best-of-three series for the Collegiate Conference of the South Tournament championship. Game 1 is scheduled to start Thursday at noon at Belhaven’s McLeod Field in Jackson. Livestream will be available on Game 2 is scheduled to start Thursday at 2 p.m. at Belhaven. Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for Friday at noon. Belhaven swept Maryville in its two game regular season series, winning 3-2 in 11 innings and 9-5 on April 15 at Belhaven.

Belhaven Softball Head Coach Kevin Griffin. photo by Bob Smith

       The winner does not get an automatic berth to the Regionals. They must wait until May 15 to see if they get a large bid when the announcement is made on the selection show (

       Griffin has had tremendous success at Belhaven, leading the Blazers to five NAIA national tournaments and two NCCAA World Series and had a winning record in 11 of his 13 seasons. During the NCAA era, Griffin has coached Belhaven to NCAA Regionals in the first two years eligible in 2021 and last season and made the Super Regionals last season. He has coached 18 All-Americans, 28 All-Region players, and 50 All-Conference athletes going into this season. Griffin has coached three conference Players of the Year, two Pitchers of the Year, one Freshman of the Year and two Newcomers of the Year going into this season.

       Griffin came away with the conference Coach of the Year award this season and his junior third baseman Allie Gordon and junior right-hander Kennedy Carruth were named the league’s Player and Pitcher of the Year respectively.

       Gordon and Carruth had outstanding seasons.

       Gordon led the team with a .472 batting average, 58 hits, 16 doubles, 10 home runs, 42 runs batted in, .496 on base percentage and .894 slugging percentage. She also became the school’s career leader in home runs and RBIs.

Allie Gordon photo by Bob Smith

       Carruth had a 15-4 record with 15 complete games and four shutouts. She struck out 168 batters with a 0.93 earned run average in 127 2/3 innings.

“We have lot of players who have experienced postseason before, and they understood all year long what it takes to get back to this point in having a chance to win a championship,” Griffin said. “That experience is huge as we move forward with our season. When you have one of the best position players in the country (Gordon) and one of the best pitchers in the country (Carruth), it’s a solid foundation to build a championship team around.”

Kennedy Carruth photo by Bob Smith

       Belhaven has a 27-11 record this season. The Blazers were ranked No. 6 nationally early in the season and dropped out with losses against some of the ranked teams, but now have won 12 straight games and 20 of the last 21 and are sitting right outside the Top 25. Sixty-four teams made the NCAA Tournament. “We want our players to have an ‘Everyday Mentality,’ where we show up and are the same dally whether we feel good or not,” Griffin said. “I encourage each player to not try to compare themselves to each other because comparison is the thief of their own joy. I want them to just play within themselves and allow their own talent to benefit our team. That approach has worked during our run of success.”