The softball team began its season in Arizona with a grueling schedule of 13 games in 9 days. After going 2-8 in their first 10 games, the Cardinals came alive, winning their last three soundly, a hot streak that they hope to continue when they open up at home this Friday against NESCAC West and Little Three foe Amherst.
Part of the reason behind Wesleyan’s slow start may have been its defense. The Cardinals committed 35 errors on the field, while their opponents had only 19. This may have been in part due to the fact that they had only had one outdoor practice prior to the trip. Additionally, Wesleyan was unable to turn any double plays, whereas their opponents combined for five. Wesleyan pitching, which has been a strength in the past two years, also suffered some difficulties as Meaghan Dendy ’10 and Chelsea Swete ’11 had ERAs of 5.48 and 3.91, respectively. On a positive note, the pitchers only let up 8 runs in the last three games of the trip.
Either way, it certainly wasn’t due to a lack of hitting, as the team batted a cumulative .339, a good 11 points higher than their opponents. Wesleyan’s offense was led by Talia Bernstein ’11, who boasted a .537 batting average and a .610 slugging percentage. The squad had three other players batting over .400 and two more batting over .300.
“Our team’s hitting is very contagious and one of our strengths is our ability to string hits together to get runs,” Bernstein said. “It was great to see this coming together by the end of the trip.”
Wesleyan kicks off its NESCAC West schedule with a three-game series against Amherst, which finished 7-2 in the same Arizona tournament. While the teams didn’t face off in Arizona, Wesleyan and Amherst did play and beat two of the same opponents, though Wesleyan won by larger margins in each game. Last year Amherst went 6-6 in NESCAC West play and dropped two of three games to NESCAC West and Little Three champion Wesleyan.
“We are excited to begin our eastern campaign on Friday,” said co-captain Molly O’Connell ’09. “It is always a battle and we look forward to setting the tone for what we aim to do in the NESCAC and the Little Three this year.”
“I think the Arizona trip was important because we could get outside and get used to playing with each other,” Bernstein said. “We definitely got out some kinks in the first part of the trip and now feel more confident to begin conference play. I am excited to see how we do back home because we are such a talented team and when we play to our potential and get to the point where we click, we will be very hard to beat.”