After a 12 game stretch in Florida where they went 6-6, the Cardinal softball team battled Middlebury at Daniel Hand High School before taking on Coast Guard for a pair of home games. While the Birds came up short in their 3-4 and 1-6 decisions against the Panthers, they were able to split the Coast Guard series with a decisive 11-3 victory and a 4-3 nail-biter.
In the first matchup with Middlebury, the Cards found themselves up early when Izzy Linzer ’17 scored on a wild pitch in the first, and they were able to hold the lead until the top-half of the sixth inning when the Panthers evened the score at one. Middlebury would score three more in the final inning, but the Cardinals could only respond with two and fell by a run. Jill Gately ’15 had a two-run single to left field to supply the Cardinals last-ditch comeback effort.
The second half of the series was more lopsided, but Wesleyan once again took an early lead in the first off a sacrifice fly from Gately. The Panthers tapped the Cardinals pitching staff for six runs in the final two innings, four of which were earned. Mollie Grunat ’16 added three hits for the Birds.
Julie McDonald ’18 handled most of the pitching duties in the Cardinals’ win. Despite allowing three hits and three runs in the first inning, the first-year closed the final four innings with only one hit and two walks, throwing three strikeouts and shutting down the Bears’ scoring.
“Our defense was solid in game two,” said McDonald. “It’s hard not to do well when your team makes all the plays behind you. We all fed off of each other’s energy to close out the double header with a great win.”
Wesleyan’s fifteen hits in this contest were spread out across the board: Angelina Massoia ’17 led the team with three, while Linzer, Su Pardo ’16, and Annalie Walsh-Costello ’17 got two each. Six other Cardinals managed to get on base, including pinch-hitter Bailey Softness ’17, who had a two-run double in the fifth before Walsh-Costello finished the game with an RBI double.
“I was really proud of our team effort, particularly in the second game,” said Walsh-Costello. “We had so many elements going against us; from coming off a tough loss in the first game, then letting up three runs in the first inning, to the awful weather. It was nice to see resilience on our team, timely hits, sacrifice bunts, and Bailey came through with a pinch-hit in the fifth inning to drive in two runs. We really battled back and showed what we are made of.”
Walsh-Costello went 4-7 with three RBIs over the doubleheader, leading the team in hits. Pardo chipped in with three connections, while catcher Rielly Wieners ’18 put the Cards up 3-2 early by hitting a two-run double in the bottom of the first.
The Cards rebounded after a tough 4-3 loss to the Coast Guard, in which they trailed for the whole contest. After dropping down by four, Wes added two in the fourth and one in the seventh, but it wasn’t what they needed to get the victory. Jamie Hom ’17 and Gately each pitched in with an RBI double and Amanda Roosa ’16 touched home plate on a fielder’s choice.
“I was happy with my own performance in our series against Coast Guard,” Walsh-Costello added. “It’s always great to be hitting the ball, but it was especially satisfying to do my job with situational hitting while driving in runs.”
Other contributors included Gately, who had a hit in each game as one of only five Cardinals who connected in game one. Once again, the ladies got a collective team effort as they keep building on their young core of players.
“I love that our team doesn’t have a super star,” Walsh-Costello said. “There’s not one person we look to when we need a win. Everyone on our team has absolute faith in each other. No matter who’s in the box or who gets the ball hit to them, I know that player will excel.”
Continuing on its improving success, Wesleyan now has a chance to defend its home turf against conference rivals Hamilton. As the season goes on, NESCAC competitions will test the strength of the Cardinals, but the players are largely optimistic, as their 7-9 record could go either way from here on out.
“We’re going to come out with a lot of energy and fight this weekend,” McDonald said. “I think if we channel the momentum we have from the win against Coast Guard, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”