From March 12-20, the softball team was in Florida preparing for its upcoming NESCAC season with a series of 13 games played against schools from all over the nation. The Cardinals found a mixed amount of success, ending the training trip with a record of 6-7.

This preseason record does not necessarily serve as an accurate predictor for what is to come for Wesleyan, as the strength of the teams the Cardinals played in Florida varied, and certain teams were much stronger or weaker than what Wesleyan will be facing in NESCAC play. The only NESCAC opponent Wesleyan played against during the road trip was Bowdoin, wgucgthe Cardinals beat 4-0.

The Cardinals, who begin NESCAC play on Friday, March 28 at Amherst, will be looking for contributions from several key players as the season progresses. During preseason, the offense was headed up by switch-hitting leadoff hitter and Captain Amy Lindland ’14, who posted a batting average of .333 over the course of 42 at-bats. Lindland also led the team in stolen bases, with four; and runs scored, with 12, over the course of the Florida trip.

Additional production on offense will be asked of two impressive freshmen. Lefty Isabel Linzer ’17 put up a .318/.444/.364 hitting line in Florida, and Abigail Rutt ’17 led the team in batting average (.429), RBIs (12), and home runs (2). The Cardinals are young this year, with only three seniors on the roster, so getting quality at-bats out of inexperienced talents such as Linzer and Rutt will be essential.

When it comes to pitching, Wesleyan will lean heavily on Su Pardo ’16. Over the course of seven appearances, Pardo accounted for 43.1 innings (more than half of the team’s total innings pitched). Over those 43.1 innings, Pardo struck out 65 and kept opponents off the scoreboard, posting an ERA of 2.10. Pardo went the distance in five out of six starts.

The Cardinals are coming off a strong 2013 season, in which they earned a NESCAC record of 7-5 and finished in second place in the NESCAC Softball West Division. The also took the Little Three crown oughtright for only the second time in history. This earned them a spot as one of the four teams to play at the NESCAC Championship, where they came up short of a title.

Though their lack of veteran experience may be a bit troubling, the Cardinals have a great deal of talent on this year’s roster. Whether or not they can replicate or build upon the success of last year’s team will depend on how this young group can learn to put things together and earn enough victories. Leading this roster of players is someone who certainly has no lack of experience: Head Softball Coach Jen Lane is returning for her 13th year at the helm of the program.

One thing is for certain: the 2014 Wesleyan softball team will be characterized by its youth. All that remains to be seen is whether the group’s inexperience will prove too imposing an obstacle for its talent to overcome.

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