The softball team has a lot to be proud of this weekend as it went 2-1 NESCAC West Rival Williams College. Coming into the game, the Cardinals were 2-44 against the Ephs and had never won a series. Wesleyan now stands at 5-1 in division play, leading the NESCAC West and setting itself up nicely for a return to the playoffs this year.
The first game of the series looked like a repeat of Wesleyan’s most recent matches, as it pounded the ball from the first inning onward. The Cardinals scored three runs in each of the first three innings, giving up only three, and entering the fourth inning with a sizeable 9-3 lead. After both teams scored a run apiece in the fourth inning, the Cardinals closed the game out in the sixth inning.
Talia Bernstein ’11 started the inning off with a double to left field. After Taylor Zavadsky ’10 flew out to center field, Karla Hargrave ’08 singled to center field, advancing Talia to third. With women on the corners, Joanna Brownson ’08 hit a looming sacrifice fly to right field allowing both runners to advance and scoring Bernstein. Molly O’Connell ’09 finished out the Cardinal scoring run, singling to right field, and scoring Hargrave. With a 12-4 lead going into the bottom of the inning, Meaghan Dendy ’10 was able to close out the game, giving the Cardinals an early mercy-rule win. This was the fourth mercy-rule victory in two weeks.
Wesleyan’s offense saw hits from seven different starters for a total of 14. Marcia Whitehead ’08 led the team with three hits and three RBIs, while O’Connell went 2-4 with a solo homerun and the game-ending RBI. Defensively, Dendy had a strong outing on the rubber, pitching a complete game and picking up her fifth win.
“Saturday, we came out really fired up and it showed. Whitehead said, We went into the game knowing we were playing another top team and so we definitely gave it everything it had. It was great to see so many players in the lineup contributing. It definitely helped that our defense was cleaner than theirs, but more so we had really timely hitting.”
Timely hitting did seem to be the key as the Cardinals only had four more hits than their opponents, who left eight women on base.
Williams put an end to the Cardinals’ five-game winning streak in the second game of the series, however. Although Wesleyan had seven hits , it were unable to string enough together to get more than one run, while the Ephs scored five runs off of four hits, two of which were home runs, in the second inning.
“The loss showed how closely matched we are, Whitehead said. A few breaks either way one mistake, one call, and one inning can change an entire game,” Whitehead said. “But, even in that game, we knew we were the better team, which is why we were able to come back with determination in the next game.”
The third and final game of the series proved to be the closest as Wesleyan eked out a 2-1 win, scoring both runs in the top of the sixth inning. The Cardinals only had three hits in the game, while Dendy pitched another complete game and allowed only six hits.
Williams scored its lone run in the fifth inning with two outs off of a single from Becky Sansone, their left fielder. Wesleyan responded in the next inning, as Dendy started it off with a double to center field. Whitehead then slapped the ball to third base, but the ball was overthrown and Whitehead advanced to second, scoring Dendy. The Ephs misplayed another infield hit and Bernstein reached on the error, scoring Whitehead. There would be no more hits or runs for the Cardinals in the final inning, but the damage was already done and Wesleyan won the game 2-1, giving Dendy her sixth win and second complete game of the weekend.
“The game showed how important defense can be,” Whitehead said.
The Cardinals had no errors in the game, whereas both of their runs were unearned.
After beginning the season with a disappointing 1-9 record, the Cardinals are now 11-11 overall, an impressive turnaround for any team. The Cardinals will head up to Middlebury on Friday to play a three-game series against the Panthers. Middlebury is currently 7-5 but has yet to play a conference game due to weather. As a team, the Panthers are strong behind the plate and on the rubber, boasting a .326 batting average and a 3.27 E.R.A.
“We look at them as a team that will always bring a good battle,” Whitehead said. We go in against them with confidence but also know we need to respect their abilities. “They are a relatively young team, so that makes them more unpredictable. Coming off this weekend, we have a lot of confidence and know we can win any game, which is a good position to be in.”