Over the weekend, the softball team’s historic season came to a close at the hands of Tufts and Trinity in the NESCAC Tournament. Despite a team record of 21 wins and nine conference victories, the Cards were unable to strike down the powerful offenses of the Jumbos and Bantams, as the two squads combined for 19 runs against the Cardinals in the double elimination tournament.
Wesleyan’s inaugural trip to the NESCAC Tournament began with a tough start. The Cardinals, finishing second in their NESCAC West division, faced off Friday against NESCAC East champion Tufts University. The Jumbos came out swinging, and despite freshman Meaghan Dendy’s lead-off solo home-run, led the game 10-1 after just two innings. The game ended 11-2 in just five innings.
On Saturday the Cardinals faced off against Trinity College who also lost on Friday against Williams. The Cardinals needed a win to stay alive and keep the hope of advancing to the finals on Sunday. Trinity came out strong from the beginning, scoring four runs in the first six innings. Trinity’s pitching was also solid as starting pitcher Brittany Alvino held Wesleyan to only three hits and no runs through the first five innings.
Entering the bottom of the sixth inning behind 4-0, the Wesleyan bats woke up as Marcia Whitehead ’08 started off the inning with a double for her third hit of the day. Molly Gaebe ’07 then hit a high fly ball that was nabbed by a Trinity outfielder. Molly O’Connell ’09 drew a walk and with two on, Jo Brownson ’08 crushed a double to right field that was inches from the wall, scoring both base runners. Trinity got the next two batters out, leaving the score 4-2 entering the final inning.
A mixture of errors and hits led to four Trinity runs in the top of the last inning, bringing the score to 8-2. Wesleyan would have to score at least six runs to stay alive. After a lead-off groundout, the rally began. Dendy smashed a double to right field and then advanced to third on a wild pitch. Becca Feiden ’08 followed with an RBI ground-out to third base. With two outs, and only one run scored, Whitehead got her fourth hit of the day, doubling to right center, bringing all hopeful Wesleyan fans to their feet.
Next up, power-hitter Gaebe singled up the middle, scoring Whitehead. O’Connell followed with her second hit of the day, pounding a double to center that landed just inches from the fence, scoring Gaebe and bringing the score to 8-5.
Unfortunately, three runs would not be enough and the Cardinals season ended as the next batter grounded out to the third base. However, the team showed that they could compete in one of Division III’s most competitive arenas and exhibited both skill and heart throughout their playoff stand. In the end, the Jumbos beat Trinity in the championship game on Sunday.
While Wesleyan’s debut appearance in the playoffs did not result in the championship many wished for, there is a lot to be proud of this season. The Cardinals finished with a season record of 21-15 with a 9-3 division record, both all-time bests for the team. The Cards also enjoyed a record-breaking win-streak of 12 games in the season.
“Our goal was to make the NESCAC tournament and we did,” Brownson said. “We played really hard, and had a great season. We broke a lot of records this year and we took big steps as a program and while the losses were disappointing, we have nothing to be ashamed of.”
While they will be losing one of the league’s best hitters in Molly Gaebe ’07, Whitehead broke the all-time hits record in the final game for a career total of 122 with another season to go. Freshman Meaghan Dendy ’10 made an instant impact this year both on the mound, in the field, and at the plate, finishing the season with both the second best batting average and ERA on the team, as well as picking up both NESCAC Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week honors in her first year.
The team finished the year with six players batting over .300 and all their pitchers throwing under a 4.00 ERA, both significantly higher marks than last year. The Cards will also be losing pitcher Dayna Yorks ’07 who led with a 2.33 ERA in five appearances as well as team leader Allison Zoromski ’07.