Wesleyan won two of three this weekend against NESCAC West rival Amherst College, good enough to win the NESCAC West division and host this year’s NESCAC tournament. The two wins were also good enough for the cardinals to capture their first-ever Little Three Title with a 4-2 record after going 2-1 in both series against Williams and Amherst.
The series started in Amherst on Friday, where Wesleyan batters immediately hammered the Lord Jeffs’ pitcher. After scoring one run in the first inning when Talia Bernstein ’11 drove in Marcia Whitehead ’08, they strung together three hits, two walks, and an Amherst error to score five runs and ahead 6-0. Wesleyan would get 11 more hits and five more runs through the sixth inning, enough for yet another mercy-rule win, cutting the game short by an inning. Dendy pitched the first three innings for the win, while Anu Rimal ’11 pitched the last three, recording her third save of the year.
The teams both traveled back to Middletown after the game where they played a double header the next day. The first game was an anomaly for Wesleyan as it was unable to score, making the lone Amherst run stand as the game-winner. Karla Hargrave ’08 pitched phenomenally, allowing just five hits and two walks, while striking out five. However, the Wesleyan offense was never able to capitalize even with the help of five Amherst errors.
The Cards did not let the defeat get to them, however, as they came back swinging in the second game of the twin bill, scoring nine runs as seven different players made contact for a total of eleven hits. The final score was 9-3, and the win helped propel Wesleyan to a first-place finish in the division. Dendy had another strong performance on the mound, winning her seventh straight decision and giving up only five hits in the day. This year, Dendy is sporting an impressive 2.05 ERA, improving upon last year’s mark by 1.25 points.
“As a freshman it took me a while to learn that you can’t make mistakes because the hitters are good enough at this level that they are going to turn mistakes into homeruns,” Dendy said. “I have been moving the ball around more and changing my speeds, which has been working well. I am also a lot more confident this year, especially since I have such a strong bond with my teammates. Also, if you look at my stats, I don’t get a lot of strike-outs, I just let them put the ball into play and our defense does the rest.”
Wesleyan’s other starter, Hargrave, is also one of the league’s top pitchers as she currently holds a 3.52 ERA and is the top slugger on the team with a staggering .417 batting average.
“Our pitchers have been so strong this year,” said Molly O’Connell ’08. “Together with our team batting so well, it makes our team so hard to beat.”
The Cardinals have certainly shown that they are the team to beat this year in the NESCAC tournament. The playoffs will be held May 2 to 4 in Middletown where Wesleyan will open up playing second-place finisher in the NESCAC East, Trinity College. Last year’s tournament winner, Tufts University, has already clinched the East division and will also be coming to Middletown. The fourth team is yet to be determined as Williams and Amherst will be playing a three-game series next weekend that will be the deciding factor. If Amherst sweeps it will earn the last spot. Otherwise, Williams will finish out the top four. At the moment, however, the Cardinals are just focusing on their next match-ups. The squad still has five more games in the regular season, including two against Trinity.
“The Trinity games will be especially important for us since we will be seeing them at the tournament,” O’Connell said.