Softball Builds on Strong Performance

By Kelsey Hoekstra

The softball team has opened its season with a strong 9-5 start. The spring break trip to Florida was a success, where the Panthers went 7-3 before finally returning to Middlebury. They did not get much time to rest before sweeping a two game NESCAC series against Wesleyan, the third game of the series being postponed due to weather. The Panthers defeated Wesleyan 4-3 in a closely contested first game. They trailed until the fifth inning, when a pair of doubles from Kat Maehr ’16 and Kelsey Martel ’15 tied the game at 1-1. In the seventh inning, Middlebury scored three runs to take the lead, which Wesleyan could not counter.

Again, the Cardinals got on the board first in the second game, but that run ended up being their only one. Middlebury plated four runners in the fifth, followed by two more in the sixth to comfortably take the game 6-1. Allison Quigley ’18 earned NESCAC and ECAC Division III New England Region Pitcher of the Week honors for her impressive rookie start. She posted a 4-1 record with four games started and six appearances, posting an ERA of just 1.77 over 27.2 innings. She earned both of the wins against Wesleyan.

After a few games had been postponed due to weather, the team finally opened its home season on Friday, April 3, in a double header against Williams. The team got an early lead in the first inning when Maehr brought Hye-Jin Kim ’17 in to score the first run. In the third they added two runs off of doubles from Maehr, Carlyn Vachow ’16 and Sarah Freyre ’17. The Ephs responded fiercely with two runs in the fourth inning and three runs in the sixth to take the lead. Middlebury scored one more run in the bottom of the sixth when Emma Hamilton ’17 capitalized on a fielding error, but that was not enough to come back and win the game as Williams held on for a 6-4 victory.

The second game started as a defensive battle, as the score remained tied at 0-0 up until the sixth inning when Williams drove in four runs. The Panthers tried to answer but were unable to complete the comeback, leaving two runners on base in the bottom of the inning. The Ephs followed up with three more unearned runs to end the game with a three-hit shutout win. Defensive errors contributed dramatically to this score, as five of Williams’ seven runs were unearned. 

Despite this loss, Martel remains optimistic.

“Overall, we’re really pleased with the way our season is going,” Martel said. “We’re lucky in the sense that we’ve got a lot of depth. A lot of girls that can contribute in a lot of different ways [are] on our roster this year. Our matchup against Williams definitely tested us, but I’m confident that our group will be able to bounce back to continue what success we’ve already had. A bump in the road only makes for a better driver, after all.”

Unfortunately, the final game of the Williams series had to be postponed due to weather. The makeup date is set for Sunday, April 12. The Panthers have a busy weekend ahead. Before they can finish the interrupted series with Williams, Middlebury will travel to Clinton, NY to play Hamilton in a three game set.

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