After earning a victory against fellow NESCAC opponent Hamilton, softball had a tight game versus Williams this weekend in the Cardinals’ final home game of the season. The women had faced off against Middlebury the week before, where they managed to sneak in an impressive 5-4 win between the weekend series after falling 7-1 the day before. Unfortunately, the Cardinals lost 5-1 against the Panthers in the rubber match. The following series against Western New England University was cancelled, allowing the Redbirds to get some well deserved rest before their final stretch of the season.
In Sunday’s matchup with first-place Williams, despite the windy afternoon and the harsh chants from the home crowd, the Ephs managed to gain a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Cards mounted attempts at rallies in the second and third innings but were unable to send anybody through home plate. It seemed that up to that point, the chants were not having the intended effect. However, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Izzy Linzer ’17 hit a single to second base, then proceeded to steal second and would ultimately come around to score on a fielder’s choice by Rielly Wieners ’18 to make the score 3-1. In the fifth, Wesleyan tied up the tilt with an RBI single from Julie McDonald ’18 and a sacrifice fly by Christina Zaccardi ’17. With the score tied, the home crowd erupted with massive yells and chants that attempted to motivate the squad to keep pushing for the lead.
Unfortunately, Williams gained their lead back in the sixth, with Kristina Alvarado scoring. The inning ended with the score sitting at 4-3 in favor of the Ephs. In the seventh inning, Williams continued on its hot streak and scored again, making the advantage 5-3. Unfortunately for the Dirty Birds, the game ended with this run and a Williams victory. The Red and Black did have a great surge in the fifth inning but ultimately came up short. Nonetheless, the squad did a remarkable job keeping up with the heavily favored Ephs.
The matchup versus Williams did highlight a few nice performances by individual players on the Cards. McDonald impressively pitched a complete game for the Cardinals, allowing the five runs (four earned), in addition to walking one and striking out one. On the offensive side of the field, she also led the team with two hits. Linzer and Olivia Gorman ’19 also registered hits for the Cards. Lexi Curt from Williams led all batters with three hits. Rebecca Duncan of Williams went five innings in the circle and struck out seven. Mackenzie Murphy came in to pitch two innings of perfect relief.
Although the home season finale did not turn out to be in the Cardinals’ favor, the squad did enjoy a successful season. Team captain Linzer shared her thoughts about how the season went.
“This has certainly been a growing season, as we have a large freshman class and graduated several starting seniors last year,” said Linzer. “It’s been exciting to see the team come together. For example, during our games against Amherst, our defense was extremely strong and showed all the work we’ve put in this year. It’s been great to see our defense come together and support our pitchers, Julie McDonald and Rachel Kantor [’19], who have done an incredible job all season.”
The softball squad finished the season at a 12-20 record, but during each game they fought with a lot of toughness against strong opponents. It is, of course, always very easy to look purely at a team’s record and associate a poor record with poor form. However, such an analysis crudely removes the nuance from the softball. Throughout the season, the Dirty Birds fought tooth and nail, and it was not a sign of failure that they landed on the lower half of the NESCAC standings.
With the senior trio of Jamie Hom, Linzer, and Zaccardi departing from their collegiate softball careers at Wesleyan, the team is going to have a few gaps to fill in next year’s lineup. However, with the work ethic that the team has shown in seasons past, it is reasonable to expect success, both in record and in effort, from the Cardinals next season.
Additional reporting done by Kevin Le, Contributing Writer.