By Miguel Gonzalez
The College’s softball team commenced its season with a road trip to Salisbury, Md. On Saturday, March 5, the Lions defeated the Clarkson University Golden Knights, 9-3, in extra innings. The following day, Sunday, March 6, the Lions earned another victory from the Golden Knights in a dominant 9-1 win before falling to the Salisbury University Seagulls in an 8-0 loss on the same day.
After posting a 20-12 record before falling to the Kean University Cougars in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament last year, coach Sally Miller and the Lions are striving to continue their winning momentum from the last regular season.
“We have been working hard since we came back from winter break and we were eager to start the season off,” senior infielder Deanna Utter said.
Initially, both the Lions’s and the Golden Knights’s offenses were locked down for three scoreless innings. In the fourth inning, the Lions played small ball to score their first run, with senior catcher Jamie Purcell reaching first base off a single towards the left outfield. Sophomore infielder Cathy Drury pinch ran for Purcell and was able to reach third base on a sacrifice bunt by Utter. With one out remaining, sophomore outfielder Madison Levine slammed the ball toward center field for a double, sending Drury to home plate for the lead, 1-0.
“We found ourselves being overly aggressive in the box and not swinging at the best pitches,” Utter said. “Once we made the adjustments offensively and settled in our routine, we were able to lay off the bad pitches and drive the good ones.”
In the sixth inning, the Lions’s extended their lead to three runs after Levine hit another double and allowed sophomore infielder Jess Stevenson and Utter to score.
The Golden Knights countered in the bottom of the sixth off a sacrifice fly to left field brought in a run. With the momentum, Knights’s sophomores utility player Erika Jensen and outfielder Bridget Woolley batted one runs batted in (RBI) each and equalized the score.
After another scoreless inning, the Lions sparked a captivating six-run inning through sophomore pitcher Sam Platt’s RBI double and freshman infielder Jess McGuire’s triple home run. Platt closed out the game after forcing Golden Knight Caggaino to line out towards the center infield, giving the team the victory.
The following day, the Lions smashed their hot bats to a 9-1 victory in a rematch against the Golden Knights.
Senior pitcher Austin Helmer threw a complete game while regulating the Golden Knights to only three hits and one run. In contrast to their previous game, the Lions immediately marked the scoreboard in the first inning when Purcell batted in a sacrifice bunt to allow freshman infielder Jess Santelli to score from third base.
From the first run, the Lions continued to score in almost every inning. In the fourth inning, the Golden Knights countered when sophomore infielder Chelsea Elliott singled and drove sophomore infielder Raeanna Dunn to home plate. It was the Golden Knights’s only run of the game.
After a brief, scoreless fifth inning, the Lions added another run and secured their second victory. Platt singled and capitalized on a throwing error to reach second base. Freshman infielder Daniella Marino pinch ran and reached home off an RBI single from freshman outfielder Gabby Bennett.
Later on in the afternoon, the Lions encountered a more difficult opponent and endured an 8-0 shutout loss from the Seagulls (6-3). The Lions’s offense was limited to two hits by Seagulls’s freshman pitcher Brooke Mizelle. Meanwhile, the Seagulls scored with home runs from senior catcher Paige Knussman and senior infielder Kim Dorsey.
With a 2-1 start to the season, the Lions will travel south to Clermont, Fla., for a 10-game series during the College’s spring break. The Lions’s next opponent will be the Calvin College Knights on Saturday, March 12.