After a sensational run, the Loyola Ramblers finished the season in second place in the Atlantic 10 Conference with a record of 27-23. That run included three big wins to vault into second to end the regular season.
Unfortunately, the Ramblers' run ended with a tough 10 inning loss to George Mason in the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament, but that doesn't dimish the success and excitement of the season.
The 27 wins are Loyola's most wins since 2013. The overall record is their second best (to 2013) in the last 19 years. Their perfect 14-0 home record is the best over that same time period.
Leading the Ramblers is fourth year Head Coach Alicia Abbott. Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Coach Abbott to talk about her career and this magical season.
A native of New Lenox, Illinois (a southern suburb of Chicago), Abbott played high school softball at Lincoln—Way Central. Coincidentally, she was a teammate of my nephew's future wife. She began her college career at UIC, where she was the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year in 2008. After two seasons, she transferred to North Carolina State, hitting .283 in two seasons with the Wolfpack.
I started the interview by asking Coach Abbott for a scouting report on Abbott the player. She then discussed her start in coaching, which was as a volunteer assistant at North Carolina State in 2012. A few stops later, Abbott was named Head Coach at loyola in late 2019.
Unfortunately for Coach Abbott, her first season was shortened by the pandemic. Still, the Ramblers finished weith a winning record of 12-9. After two losing, but competitive seasons, Coach Abbott and the Ramblers seemed poised for a good first season in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
A 4-14 start could have crushed the spirit of many teams, but not the Ramblers. They finished extremely strong, going 23-9. Coach Abbott talked about overcoming all of these obstacles and staying positive and on track.
Coach Abbott gave her thoughts on her seniors and grad student athletes, including having to say goodbye to them. I have witnessed the emotions from all on several Senior Days at Loyola games. I have no real connection to these players, but even I get misty-eyed. I can only imagine the thoughts of players, coaches and families. Coach Abbott gave clear thoughts on the situation, but I also know how deeply she cares for all of her players.
Two other specific players I mentioned were second year pitchers Peyton Pepkowski and Andie Broniewicz. They went a combined 24-20, with an ERA of about 2.50, with each throwing a no-hitter. While praising the effort, skills and futures of the two staff aces, Coach Abbott was quick to mention Bailey Johnson, the third pitcher on her squad.
I really appreciate Coach Abbott's time. More importantly, I appreciate everything Coach Abbott has done at Loyola and for me. While most coaches are polite, Coach Abbott always goes the extra mile by thanking me for covering the team. It always means a lot when a Coach or player recognizes me for giving exposure to the team.
Watch our interview at On the Beat With Loyola SB Coach Alicia Abbott. For more info on the Ramblers, go to Loyola Rambles.com.
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