It’s been a rather exciting season for the young squad of Cardinal softball players. After an exciting bout with Coast Guard, the team (9-10 overall, 2-3 NESCAC West) ripped through Hamilton in a double-header last Saturday. Although the following Sunday’s 5-3 defeat concluded the series on a slightly sour note, the ladies are moving forward with some solid reassurance after another successful weekend. Izzy Linzer ’17 led the team with seven hits, but defense and pitching took center stage on Saturday. After a tight 3-2 win in its first contest, Wesleyan steamrolled the Continentals 9-0, aided by Julie McDonald ’18, who pitched a no-hitter through four innings.
“We put on a very strong performance against Hamilton this weekend,” McDonald wrote in an email to The Argus. “Everyone on the team contributed and did their job, which helped us earn two great wins on Saturday. Unfortunately, we couldn’t bring enough runs across in the game on Sunday to get us another win, but we haven’t let that hurt our confidence.”
Su Pardo ’16 was on the mound in game one. She racked up nine strikeouts on the day, retired 14 of the 17 final Hamilton batters, and gave up only three hits. What’s more, the Birds complemented their stellar defense with some explosive bursts of scoring. In the second game, Rielly Wieners ’18 smashed her first career home run in the fourth inning, while Jill Gately ’15 blew the game open with another round-tripper that spurred a streak of seven runs on six hits. Amidst the flurry of Cardinals scoring, Hamilton could only manage to get two players on base; McDonald only allowed a single in the fifth and a double in the seventh.
“My pitches were moving just enough to keep the hitters off balance,” McDonald added. “But I’d like to improve on my performance in the last few innings of close games. If I can work on focusing all of my energy into shutting hitters down in the end of games, it would eliminate any stress and extra work my team and I would have. [However], the biggest reason for my success on the mound this weekend was my defense behind me. They made some great plays to keep the other team off the bases, so they’re really the reason why we were able to keep the games under our control.”
The final game on Sunday was a tough defeat; the Cardinals maintained a three-run lead through the third inning, but Hamilton roared back after putting their first few batters of the inning on base. Despite managing four hits in the last four innings, Wesleyan didn’t score after its initial three-run burst.
For her impressive efforts over these three games, McDonald was named NESCAC Pitcher of the Week. She finished the weekend with 11 strikeouts, no runs, and only eight hits with two walks.
The conference competition is heating up, and while the squad certainly has room for improvement, the playoffs are within reach.
“The key for us to keep improving is to consistently be aggressive at the plate and in the field,” McDonald wrote. “Lately, we’ve been scoring most of our runs in one or two innings of the game. If we’re constantly energetic and on the attack, it will take away a lot of the momentum from the other team, [allowing] us to take advantage of every opportunity we have. If we keep our energy up, there’s no doubt that we’ll have a shot at the playoffs.”