What was supposed to be a celebration for the softball seniors was spoiled by rivals Sonoma State, shutting out SF State in both games Saturday, 8-0 and 6-0.
It was not the way the Gators wanted to send off their seniors as they were only able to muster three hits combined in both games. But their gloomy performance on the field did nothing to damper the festivities for the seniors.
A walkway composed of the entire softball team, about ten on each side, awaited graduating seniors Kylie Grabowski and Kelsey Murakami to make their final entrance on the field. Hugs, smiles, and a whole of bunch flowers showered the two seniors.
It would be the last time for Grabowski and Murakami to sport a Gator jersey.
“I wanted to do really good because it was the last time,” said Grabowski. “It was more like, I (didn’t) want to choke.”
Just before the game started, the whole team gathered behind home plate when “If I Could Turn Back Time” by Cher began playing while the team began serenaded the two seniors.
Cut-outs of Murakami’s face were littered throughout the Gators cheering section. Murakami’s family had made these and handed them out to family and friends. Every time Murakami would go up to bat, those faces would be up and moving around.
“It was so embarrassing,” said Murakami. “I couldn’t even look at them or I would let go of the bat.”
Murakami, a sociology major, ends the year with a .317 batting average and leads the team in walks with 24. She has played in 188 games in her career and started 177 of them.
Grabowski concludes her Gator career playing 129 games, starting in 115. She ends her senior year with two home runs and a .140 batting average.
The loss of both the players will be tough for head coach Cristina Byrne to replace after the four years they spent in the softball program.
“Losing two ballplayers like them is hard,” said Byrne. “You know, it’s going to be weird not seeing their faces out there on the field next season, I’m going to miss them.”
Coach Byrne spent numerous road trips with Grabowski, Byrne would drive the van and she remembers distinctly that Grabowski sat behind her in the back.
“We shared a lot of stories on road trips together because I would talk to her while she was in the back,” said Byrne. “I got to know her as a person.”
The Gators finished off the season with a 10-26 record in the CCAA, and though the season is done, Grabowski left her teammates with a few thoughts.
“Enjoy it, don’t think about the pressure or anything,” she said. “Just got out there and try to do your best and hopefully it works out.”