Entering the final stretch of conference play, the softball team has been on a tear thanks to some superb pitching. After being named NESCAC Pitcher of the Week for her efforts against Hamilton, Julie McDonald ’18 cemented a 3-2 victory versus Trinity on Saturday, April 11.
In the first of a two-game series, McDonald was able to pitch the Cardinals out of a bases-loaded, one-out situation during the seventh inning. The Birds had established a 3-0 lead, aided by an errantly thrown ball in the second and two runs scored in the fourth after a sacrifice fly from Annalie Walsh-Costello ’17 and an RBI single by Angelina Massoia ’17.
However, Trinity came roaring back by scoring twice in the fifth inning, before McDonald quelled their hopes by closing the game with authority. McDonald tallied 11 strikeouts on the day.
“There has been a lot of talk about our small roster, but that has allowed all of the team to get really close,” said Isabel Linzer ’17. “This team might have the best chemistry of any team I’ve played on. Because we’re so close we’re able to push each other on the field. There is definitely a sense that we are out there playing for each other, not just for ourselves.”
Following the close win, the squad went on to pummel the Bantams 9-1 in the second contest. McDonald, Jamie Hom ’17, and Walsh-Costello all had three hits on the weekend, while Su Pardo ’16 managed to add a hit following a fantastic pitching performance in which she allowed only five hits and one run. In total, the Cardinals reached base safely 15 times.
The Birds have relied on a true team effort going into the home stretch of their season. After this recent run of successful play, it’s only natural that playoffs are on their mind.
“If we play the way we’ve been playing, we’ve got a really good shot [at the playoffs],” Walsh-Costello said. “Everyone on the team wants to win, and we know what we have to do.”
Wesleyan was lucky enough to play Trinity at home, as the games had to be moved from Hartford because of a wet field. Trinity still batted as the home team, but the Cardinals adamantly defended their turf as the team’s hitting exploded in the second game, spurred by a 3rd inning two-run homer from Hom. She and Walsh-Costello each went 2-for-3 in the contest; the former had an RBI while the latter managed to score two runs.
“When we have runners on base, we are going to score against them any way we can,” Walsh-Costello said. “We’ll be working very hard this week [to prepare] for our series against Williams, specifically with situational hitting. The next two weeks are really important for our team; [after Williams], we have Amherst and a final game against Middlebury.”
Last Thursday, the Cardinals began their weekend of competition by splitting a pair of 3-1 decisions with Western New England. Captain Jill Gately ’15, Rielly Wieners ’17 and Pardo each had two hits in a doubleheader that was rescheduled from April 7.
Although Walsh-Costello couldn’t snag a connection in Thursday’s series, her hitting has been largely consistent throughout the season. She’s amassed a .400 batting average to establish herself as one of the team’s top hitters.
Linzer discussed the difficulty of having to play games not only during the weekend but also throughout the week.
“Personally, something I want to work on is being totally focused for mid-week games,” she said. “It’s a big mental shift to go from sitting in a lecture to being on the field in just a couple of hours.”
Sitting on a 12-11 record, the Cardinals still have work to do to earn a playoff spot. However, things are beginning to look up, as this young team now seems to be finding its stride.
“This season, our side of the NESCAC is very tough, and there’s not one dominant team,” Walsh-Costello said. “Everybody is beating each other. It’s going to be really important for us to come out strong every single inning, and to not underestimate our opponents.”
Linzer added to her teammate’s sentiments regarding the optimism surrounding this year’s team.
“As long as we’re playing with intensity and energy there is no reason why we shouldn’t qualify for NESCACs,” she said. “The key to getting there is mental. We have to maintain that sense of urgency every inning of every game. If we can do that, I think we’ll have a very successful season.”