The softball team continued its winning streak this past week with four wins, bringing its season record to 15-11 and its win streak to eight games.
The first game of the week was played on Tuesday at home where the Cards faced off against non-conference foe Elm’s College. The game ended by the mercy-rule, with a final score of 11-1 after just five innings. The Cardinal bats were on fire all day. Pitcher Meaghan Dendy ’10 kept the Elms Blazers at bay, allowing only one run off of four hits.
“I think we’re a lot more confident at the plate and we believe in ourselves more than we have in previous years,” said third baseman Marcia Whitehead ’08, who currently leads the team hitting with a .393 batting average. “There is a confidence from the team that no matter who’s at bat we can get it done and since everyone’s contributing from the lead-off to the number nine spot. Also, I think people really worked hard in the off-season—a good swing requires year-round practice.”
Wesleyan’s next three games were held against NESCAC West rival Hamilton College. The games were originally scheduled to be played at Hamilton, but due to weather the series opened up Friday at the birdcage.
Unlike Elms, Hamilton proved to be a strong competitor, causing the game to go an extra inning. The Continentals were the first to score, with two runs off of two hits in the first inning.
Becca Feiden ’08 started the scoring for Wesleyan in the fourth inning, hitting a double and then scoring on a sacrifice-fly by Molly Gaebe ’07. In the fifth, Karla Hargrave ’08, the game’s starting pitcher, singled to drive in Dayna Yorks ’08 who had tripled, to tie up the score at 2-2.
Hamilton took over the lead again at the bottom of the inning, scoring two unearned runs, one off of Hargrave and another off of Gaebe who came out of the bullpen with two outs in the inning. These runs would be the last of the game for Hamilton however, as Gaebe gave up only two more hits in the remainder of the game.
Starting shortstop Molly O’Connell ’09 also delivered a strong performance, producing two key hits—a triple in the seventh which led to a run and then a double that drove home Whitehead and ended up being the game-winning RBI.
“We’ve been a come-back team all year,” O’Connell said. “We’ve battled in lead-changing games against some of the strongest teams in this league and that gave us confidence going into the seventh inning.”
Hamilton batted last since it was the original home team but the Continentals were shutdown as Gaebe finished the game strongly with two more strikeouts for a total of six in the game. She was rewarded with her sixth win and improved her ERA to 3.79, as Wesleyan earned its sixth straight win 5-4.
“You never like to be behind going into the last inning but it was an exciting win that sent a message to Hamilton and set the tone for the next two games in the series,” O’Connell said.
The next two games of the series were less nail-biting but still competitive, as the Cardinals won 8-4 and then 7-3. Dendy ’10 was once again formidable on the mound, giving up only four hits for the win in the first game, while Yorks shut down Hamilton in the second game of the day, coming in for relief in the second and giving up only three hits and no runs in her first win of the season. Dendy also set the pace for the Cardinal offense, going 7-9 and scoring 5 runs in the doubleheader.
The Cards continues to head the NESCAC West division, with a conference record of 7-2, ahead of perennial powerhouse Williams. Last year the Ephs won their second consecutive NCAA Division III New England Regional Championship and their third straight conference championship. While Wesleyan was improving its season numbers, Gaebe also hit a landmark—getting her 100th career hit (twenty-ninth of the season) in Saturday’s first game. She is only the sixth Cardinal softball player to reach the hundred-hit plateau.
Wesleyan has three more league games remaining against the Middlebury Panthers, who proved themselves earlier in the season by handing Williams their second loss.
The Cards’ next contests will be a doubleheader at Bates on Saturday and then another doubleheader against Bowdoin at home on Sunday. At this point in the season the Cardinals’ future looks bright as they near the NESCAC playoffs they missed last year.