c/o Emily Frazer-Abel

c/o Emily Frazer-Abel

Following a difficult season in 2021, the Wesleyan softball team has bounced back with a vigor. The team’s record now stands at 7–7, and their confidence is only growing. After being able to practice through the fall, the Cardinals went to Florida for spring training with a chip on their shoulders. They were able to play a number of competitive games in a short amount of time, and in doing so, developed a tangible team culture. 

These results come after a disappointing 2021 season, when the team was dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19, a plethora of injuries, and a glaring absence of seniors on the roster. The starting date of the season was a mystery for most of March 2021, with some signs pointing towards the cancellation of games altogether due to the pandemic. There was a lack of time to prepare, which was needed for the senior-less squad. At one point during the season, the team could only field eight players, one of whom was literally hobbling around the outfield. However, Head Coach Jennifer Lane always stayed proud of her players, despite the disappointing end to the season with a 1–14 record.  

“One thing that shone through was the cohesiveness of the team, a really tight-knit group of people,” Lane said. “We had moments where we competed…we played Tufts really tight.”

Thinking about the positive turn the team has taken this season, Lane spoke highly of the way her players support and respect each other, noting especially the way the seniors have been able to mentor the first years and help foster the team’s culture.

“Things came together with a solid group of first years, so we went in as a strong group, and came out even stronger,” Lane said.

The Cardinals’ pitching staff is the exact microcosm of what the team has been able to create this year. Revi Brown 23 and Brooklin Williams 23, the only pitchers from last year’s team, were joined this year by standout first-year pitcher Isabella Secaira-Cotto 25. Secaira-Cotto has dominated opponents so far this season, with a stellar 2.60 ERA (earned-run-average) and raves from Lane, who believes that her energy, skill, and work ethic have helped raise the bar for the team.

The most important part of Secaira-Cotto’s game, though, is the way she complements the other pitchers. All three pitchers need to be at the top of their game to win, and Secaira-Cotto has embraced this group mentality. She spoke to how the seniors have supported the first-year and helped create this winning culture and mentality. 

“The senior class, including our captains, were amazing at helping us adjust not only to the physical demands of being a collegiate athlete, but the academic adjustments,” Lane said. “They gave us great resources and took us in and welcomed us with open arms.”

In addition to being great leaders, the team’s seniors have played a huge role in the Cardinals’ increased run production this year, along with the skyrocketing team batting average. Sophia Sciarappa 22 and Courtney Collins-Pisano 22 have commanded the plate this year, with batting averages of .606 and .413, respectively. Last season, the team batted .226 overall, while the squad’s batting average this season sits at an intimidating .349.

Tough competition is on the horizon, though. After a rain postponement of a divisional battle against Hamilton College last weekend, Wesleyan faces a strong opponent in Eastern Connecticut State in a doubleheader on Friday, April 8. Then, on Sunday, April 10, they have a makeup game against Hamilton. Lane expects both teams to have stronger pitchers than Curry and Coast Guard, but has high expectations for her team. 

“In spring training, our hitters were able to see more live pitching, and younger players being able to have more experience under their belts has helped a lot [this season],” Coach Lane said. “The pitching [this weekend] is going to be a lot stronger than Curry, but we’re just going to look for our pitches to hit and play our game.”

It is clear that the Cardinals’ confidence is rising this season in pitching, hitting, and overall play, from the coach to the seniors, and all the way down to the first years. Taking motivation from the difficulties of last season and confidence from a heightened team chemistry and ability, the Cardinals have earned their competitive place this season. Secaira-Cotto embraces these values which make the team so exciting and creates a sense of collective belief going forward. 

“I know what my job is, to focus on every pitch with my catcher and be the best version of me that I can be on that game day,” Secaira-Cotto said. “As long as I stick to my game plan, I know nobody can beat me.”

This attitude is definitely one that can be echoed by every other member of the Wesleyan Softball team, and one that Lane is relying on as the team moves through the rest of the season. The future is bright for the Cardinals.

Lewis Woloch can be reached at lwoloch@wesleyan.edu.

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