Over the past four games, the softball team managed to deliver a doubleheader sweep versus Coast Guard Academy, but fell to Baypath College by three and NESCAC rival Hamilton by one in thrilling fashion.
“The season is going great so far; we have a record of 14-6,” said captain Amanda Roosa ’16. “I think the team has really come together since last year. We’re all a little older, more experienced, and less easily shaken. It doesn’t hurt that we have a deep pitching staff and bats to help, up and down the lineup.”
Julie McDonald ’18 got the nod from head coach Jen Lane in the first game versus the Bears. She had a rough start, letting up all of her runs in the opening frame, but settled in to throw the next five scoreless. The sophomore allowed three runs on seven hits and threw four strikeouts, giving up just one walk. After she settled down, the Wesleyan offense came to her aid with 15 runs on 17 hits.
Three runs in the top of the second, two in the third, one in the fourth, and a whopping seven in the fifth gave the Cardinals a healthy 13-3 lead. Rachel Kantor ’19 led the way for Wes, driving in four runs. Izzy Linzer ’17, Angelina Massoia ’16, Jaime Hom ’17, and Roosa were also hot from the plate, picking up two RBIs each.
“Stepping onto that field, I know the team and I have complete faith in our pitching staff, simply because of the confidence we all exude,” Roosa said. “We really do have one of the best staffs in the NESCAC. On top of that, we have an experienced defense that isn’t afraid to get after a ball. I think knowing that our pitchers will get the job done helps us to loosen up and field more confidently, and vice versa. I trust every one of my teammates to make a play. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
In the second game of the series, the two teams played to a much closer result, but Wesleyan once again came out with the victory, 9-8. Trailing 8-6 with just six outs remaining, Rielly Wieners ’18 pulled Wes to within one on an RBI single, driving in Hom. In the last inning of play, Hom’s RBI single evened the score at seven, and another single, this one from McDonald, would give the Cardinals the lead for the remainder of the game.
Viveka Cousins ’19 got the start for Wesleyan, throwing 1.2 innings of softball, while ace Su Pardo ’16 pitched 3.1 innings of blanks in relief, tossing five strikeouts.
This past weekend, the Cardinals were scheduled to play Hamilton three times, but the Saturday doubleheader was cancelled due to inclement weather. The two teams suited up the previous day, and Hamilton just edged out Wes, 6-5.
“I think we let Hamilton chip away each inning and we didn’t respond in turn, at least not until the last couple of innings,” Roosa said. “We needed more timely hits, and we left two runners on base in our last at bat against Hamilton that could have easily turned the game around. In our next games, I think it will be good to remember to play to the standard of softball we are capable of playing, and to not play down to our competition’s level of play. I also think it’s important to go into our next games remembering that we are a team and we’re here to win together. Softball can be both individual and team-oriented, but it’s important to back each other up and make sure we don’t disintegrate into individualistic players as soon as something goes wrong.”
Down 4-0 after four innings, the Cardinals struck for three. Wieners slapped an RBI single, and two more runs came on a Roosa single. Hamilton would get back those two runs in the next inning, and although Wieners and Roosa were able to add three more runs in the last frame, the Cardinals were still one run short of tying the game.
“I think I’ve been successful at the plate because I know my teammates and friends are on base, and I don’t want to leave them stranded out there,” Roosa said. “When we have runners in scoring position we say, ‘we’ve got some ducks on the pond.’ As a team, we’ve instituted a No Duck Left Behind Policy. It gives me that extra incentive because there is no way in heck I’m leaving a duck, and fellow teammate, behind. Besides that, when I get up to the plate I feel calm and determined. I know that if the pitcher puts it in the strike zone I’m going to hit the ball, and hit it hard.”
Pardo threw a complete game, allowing six runs on eleven hits, striking out five batters.
The most recent game featured an out-of-conference bout from Baypath, and McDonald suffered her first loss of the season. She threw four innings, allowing three runs and three hits. The Wesleyan runs came on a triple from Annalie Walsh-Costello ’16 and a ground-out from captain Mollie Grunat ’16.
After allowing three first inning runs, the Cardinals cut the lead to one after the sixth inning, but Cousins, after throwing two innings of scoreless softball, gave up two runs in the top half of the seventh inning.
The Cardinals will step back onto the field this weekend against Little Three rival Williams for a three-game series, weather permitting. The Ephs have yet to play a NESCAC West game, but are 14-5 overall.
“I think this weekend is going to be a good match, but I’m confident we’ll come out on top, especially if we go in and jump on Williams in those first innings,” Roosa said. “They’re not afraid to take every advantage they can get, so we have to be on our toes and not give them anything. Everyone has to be on, mentally and physically.”
If the Cardinals are going to succeed against a side that they have an all-time record of 12-60 against, leadership is going to play a big role.
“This is my second year as captain and I’ve learned a lot from this year to the last,” Roosa said. “I also wouldn’t be able to do it without my co-captain, Mollie Grunt. We keep each other in check. It’s funny because most people don’t think about anyone else’s play but their own, but as a captain you have to think about everyone’s play. If the team energy is down, that’s on the captains to not only recognize that, but pick it up. If someone is having a rough day, it’s important to pick them up. If I’m having a rough day, I can’t let my attitude affect the rest of the team. I have to be just as loud and energetic. Being a captain truly does mean leading by example, in practice and games. That means I can never be lazy, even on those days at practice when I’m feeling exhausted. My freshman and sophomore year, I played selfishly. Demeanor is everything, and if the other team senses we’re rattled it’s easy for them to take advantage of those emotions. Softball is a very mental sport. I’ve learned to be more accountable, even-keeled, and hardworking.”