The Cardinals’ bats have been on fire this past week, as they captured their fourth victory in a row and third victory by mercy-rule. Wesleyan opened up play on their brand-new field this weekend against Hamilton College. After sweeping the Continentals, the Cards took on Coast Guard on Wednesday and came up victorious again. The final score was 12-4, and the game ended early due to the eight-run mercy-rule.
Wesleyan was on a tear from the very start, scoring six runs with RBI contributions from six different batters in the first inning against Hamilton. The Continentals would never come closer than five, and the Cardinals were able to end the game early due to the eight-run mercy rule when they went ahead 13-5 in the bottom of the fourth inning. Co-captain Rebecca Feiden ’08 led the team at the plate, going 4-4, while Karla Hargrave ’08 and Anu Rimal ’11 combined their strength on the mound to limit the Continentals to only four hits.
Wesleyan did not let down in Sunday’s double-header, winning the first game 4-2 and the second 9-1, in another early-decision mercy-rule victory. In game one, the Cardinals struck early, scoring their first run in the first inning, as Hargrave rounded the bases with help from back-to-back singles from Talia Bernstein ’11 and Taylor Zavadsky ’10.
The winning run would come in the third inning, when co-captain Marcia Whitehead ’08 blasted a double to left-center field, scoring both Bernstein and Zavadsky to give Wesleyan a 4-0 lead. Hamilton responded in the top of the sixth inning, scoring two runs, but it wouldn’t be enough as Cardinal pitcher Meaghan Dendy ’10 shut down the Continentals in their final at-bat.
The series ended in the same way it began, as the Wesleyan sluggers took charge and capped an early win by gaining an eight-run lead early on, enough for a mercy-rule win. Seven Cardinals had hits in the game, the most impressive being a home run by Zavadsky to left-center field.
Wesleyan pitchers Dendy and Hargrave had just as much to do with the victories as the Cards’ bats did. Both threw complete games and matched each other in hits allowed and strikeouts, with five and seven, respectively.
“We feel really solid about our pitchers right now,” Whitehead said. “Getting two complete games Sunday was great, and while Sunday’s performances were certainly impressive, it was actually Saturday’s games that really showed their strength. Saturday was so cold and windy and so, even though more runs were scored on Saturday’s game, it was certainly an epic battle with the elements on [Ramal] and [Hargrave’s] part.”
“For all three of our games, our coach said that it really was a team game,” she added. “We saw contributions from all of our team members on offensive side and minimal errors on defensive side.”
The game against Coast Guard proved to be no different, as Dendy opened up the lead early on with a towering grand-slam in the second inning. Dendy was not alone in making contact, however, as the team hit for an amazing combined batting average of .483. Wesleyan scored their final eight runs on nine hits in the last two innings. Both Hargrave and Rimal contributed their arms on the mound.
“We’ve definitely seen our bats come alive, which shows a difference from earlier in the season,” Whitehead said. “Our successes at the plate are becoming contagious, and so we are not just a bunch of skilled batters, but we are also playing off of each other’s hits. The result is that more runs are scored and less people are left on base. In many ways, we consider this Williams series to be the most important games in the regular season,” Whitehead said. “They are likely to determine who will finish first in West division and, by winning, we would send a strong message to the rest of the conference about how strong a team we are this year. We have to come with an all-around game and know that if we do so, we will win.”
This weekend, the Cardinals are slated to play three games at Williams. Williams is known for its strong bats, but it has a weaker pitching staff, which Wesleyan will look to take advantage of. Because both teams have such powerful batters, it may well be that the winning team will be that which commits fewest errors. However, due to a forecast of inclement weather, the games might be relocated to Middletown. Wesleyan was also scheduled to play a double-header against NESCAC East opponent Colby College, but these games have been cancelled. Updates will be posted on the Athletics website.