Although a sunny climate signals vacation for most students, the blue skies of Florida meant a battle was afoot for the softball team. Facing their first true tests of the season, the Cardinals scrapped together a 6-6 record during a 12-game week of competition in Clermont, Fla. Despite a slow start, the team finished out 5-1 and took care of some Northeast opponents along the way.
The team is optimistic after a solid collective effort, getting contributions from multiple players; everyone seems to be on same page, something Mollie Grunat ’16 was quick to affirm.
“The team’s really looking great so far,” Grunat said. “I’ve never been on a team with such great chemistry. I think [that will] get us far this year.”
Grunat led the team with 13 hits, tying with Izzy Linzer ’17 for most on the week. Their performances were key in stringing together consecutive wins against St. Lawrence University, Framingham State, and Keene State. After a difficult matchup with Minnesota State-Moorhead, Wesleyan closed with a resounding 7-3 victory against the University of New England (UNE), before knocking off Western Connecticut 2-1.
Julie McDonald ’18 pitched a complete game against UNE, throwing seven strikeouts while only allowing seven hits and three runs. In addition, these final two victories were aided by some clutch play by Susan Pardo ’16, who hit a two run double in the sixth inning against UNE to clinch the game. Annalie Walsh-Costello ’17 also had a key sacrifice fly in the first inning, rounding out a solid team effort.
“[We have] faith in each other to get the job done, both on the field and at the plate,” Grunat said. “It showed in Florida, [where] every single player on the team contributed to the wins.”
Grunat hit safely in 9 of 11 games, and Linzer in 11 of 12, but Walsh-Costello led the team in batting average, notching 12 hits in 29 at-bats for an impressive average of .414.
While McDonald and Amanda Roosa ’16 handled most of the pitching duties, Pardo also had a chance to take the mound and compliment her 12 RBIs with eight strikeouts in six innings. She finished the week with 11 total hits, capping off a set of productive outings.
The Cardinals began the week with an 8-3 win against Mt. Ida before dropping their next four games, including a 2-1 nail-biter against Southern Maine. Throughout the trip, a myriad of Cardinals got the chance to contribute. Among the players who had key hits were Roosa (seven), Jamie Hom ’17 (eight, with five RBIs), Rielly Wieners ’18 (five), and Angelina Massoia ’17 (seven). These strong efforts paid off during the home stretch of the trip, propelling the Cardinals into the core of their season. But even as cancellations due to weather slow the team’s momentum, the squad is itching for competition as they continue to build chemistry.
“Everyone [is really excited] to actually play, despite the weather hindering our schedule,” Roosa said. “Especially because we finished spring training so strongly.”
The softball team’s depth has been a slight concern since the preseason, but this slew of gutsy individual and team performances during this 12-game stretch assuaged these fears. With the season’s first competition under their belt, the Cardinals are starting to think big as NESCAC competition quickly approaches.
“Finishing strong in Florida definitely boosted our team’s confidence and made us hungry for more wins,” Grunat said. “We can’t wait to show the rest of the NESCAC what Wes softball’s all about!”