After over a year without play as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wesleyan women’s softball team was eager to get back into the swing of things. Moving through a tight schedule due to a shortened slate, the team opened its season with a three-game series against Amherst on Apr. 3 and 4 before playing a doubleheader against Hamilton this past weekend.
While the pandemic has complicated college athletics, Softball Head Coach Jen Lane pointed out some unexpected benefits of the unique circumstances of this past year.
“Training has been both easier and more difficult this year,” Lane wrote in an email to The Argus. “[The coaches] got to practice in the Fall with the team, which has never been allowed by the NESCAC before. We were able to do a lot of skill and tactical work so it put us further ahead when we started Spring practices [more so] than prior years. But it was challenging to work on tactical situations since we couldn’t have baserunners. And when our student-athletes went home in November, they were limited in options for places to practice because of COVID restrictions.”
Indeed, some of Lane’s fears played out this past weekend as the Cards ran into a couple outs on the basepath.
Student-athletes on the team also appreciated having the extra time in the Fall to prepare.
“The biggest difference between preparing for this season and previous seasons was our ability to practice with our coaches in the Fall,” Courtney Collins-Pisano ’22 said. “Usually we only have captains’ practices in the off season, so it was nice to have extra time with our coaches. We were able to really focus on and improve important aspects of our game in ways that would have been much more difficult if we had been organizing and running all of the practices on our own.”
Despite the season looking different from previous years, Lexie Campbell ’22 noted how great it was to finally be able to return to playing games.
“The best moment of the season so far was the day we finally got to step on the field to compete again,” Campbell said. “It was a long 387 days in the making. We take so much pride in representing Wesleyan and it is something that is so special we get to share as teammates.”
The Cardinals dropped both games in their doubleheader against Hamilton, falling 5–13 in the first game and 1–10 in the second, falling to 0–5 on the season. Although the Cards fell short, there were certainly some exciting moments throughout the games, including an inside-the-park home run from Collins-Pisano in the first inning of Wesleyan’s second contest against Hamilton.
While this recent stretch of games has been difficult for the Cardinals, the team is focused on continued improvement and maintaining a positive outlook.
“I think everyone is working really hard,” Collins-Pisano said. “We have faced some challenges as a young team with a small roster, but we are all so happy to have the opportunity to play and are enjoying our time together. We have a great team dynamic and are excited to continue to compete together.”
Continuing to improve is item number one on the team’s agenda.
“I think our team has a lot of potential which hasn’t been reached yet,” Lane wrote. “I thought we made progress each game against Amherst, but did not have our best two games against Hamilton. However, we’ve regrouped and had a couple of great practices so far this week heading into the weekend against Middlebury. This is a hard working group who gets along really well. It’s also the future of Wes Softball as everyone will be back next year, too.”
With such a young team, the future is only going to bring brighter days for the Red and Black. The team knows that this season is crucial not only in striving for victories, but also working on the fundamentals and practicing hard every day.
“Something I personally want to see the team accomplish this season is seeing an improvement with every day and every game,” Campbell said. “Wins and championships are always welcomed, but results cannot be the sole definition of success.”
Next weekend, softball will play a three-game series against Middlebury at home. These games will be crucial to the Cards as they try and build momentum in this COVID-19 shortened season.
If you have any questions about whether the Red and Black are up to the task, just ask Campbell.
“We are small, mighty, and excited to attack the rest of the season!” Campbell said.