By Miguel Gonzalez
While students were on spring break, the College’s softball team brought nothing but scorching fire in this year’s Sunkissed Games at Osceola, Florida. The College won eight games and lost only two, compiling a 11-3 regular season record.
On March 10, the Lions dropped their first game against Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 5-3. The team jumped to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning before WPI made a comeback.
Senior outfielder Madison Levine scored the team’s first two runs off a single to right field. Junior catcher Jess McGuire followed up with another run when she hit a single to send sophomore infielder/outfielder Annalise Suitovsky to home plate.
WPI immediately scored a run at the bottom of the first. With senior utility player Nina Murphy-Cook on second base, freshman outfielder/utility player Marissa Gonzales smacked a single. Murphy-Cook took advantage off a throwing error by the Lions to score.
The scored remained 3-1 until WPI tied the game at three in the bottom of the fourth inning. The Lions couldn’t score another run as WPI eventually won the game, 5-3.
The loss motivated the College for redemption in their next game. In the Lions’ next game, the team shutout Wheaton College, 9-0, with the help of freshman infielder/pitcher Alanna Namit’s no-hitter. Namit silenced Wheaton’s bats as she hurled 15 strikeouts. Her impressive performance was complemented by the team’s multiple steals and runs.
Head coach Sally Miller says the pitching staff is working together to constantly improve.
“Alanna had a good week of games as did many others on our staff,” Miller said. “All the pitchers have worked hard on their strengths including Alanna. The pitching staff is working together this year and helping each other out in practice and in games. The upper class pitchers are especially helping both Alanna and Eliza Sweet as being first years playing in a very competitive atmosphere.”
The Lions were just as dominant against Utica College and Trinity College on March 11. In the first game against Utica, the team was quiet until the bottom of the fourth inning.
With McGuire up at bat, sophomore infielder Megan Mayernik took advantage of an overthrow and crossed home plate to score the team’s first run. Afterward, the Lions pounded Utica with more runs on their way to an 8-0 shutout win.
In the second game against Trinity, Namit served another no-hitter as the Lions blanked their opponent, 9-0. Namit froze Trinity’s bats with seven strikeouts. At the same time, the Lions offense cooked up nine runs from multiple hits by freshman infielder Lauren Conroy, freshman outfielder Kaitlin Kocinski and Mayernik. Kocinski also blasted a two-run home run at the top of the third inning.
The team kept rolling past the competition on March 13 with victories against Eastern Connecticut State University, 10-1, and New York University, 11-1. In both matches, the Lions were able to complete the games in five innings based on the mercy rule.
The Lions’ March 14 game proved to be a roller coaster as the team dominated Washington College in a 11-3 win before being trampled by McDaniel College, 16-8.
After smacking 12 RBIs against Washington College, the Lions encountered a back-and-forth situation against McDaniel College. With the Lions holding an 8-4 lead in the top of the sixth inning, McDaniel’s offense exploded and scored a total of 12 runs. The 16-8 decifict was too much for the Lions to overcome at the bottom of the sixth inning.
The softball team immediately resurged and dismantled Haverford College and St. Norbert College on Friday, March 16.
In the 19-3 win against Haverford, Namit held the opponents to only three runs while the Lions’ offense exploded for 19 runs, 36 hits and six steals. Mayernik and senior outfielder Madison Levine led the team’s offense with four hits.
The Lions then finished their last spring trip game with a dominant 14-1 victory against St. Norbert College. Senior pitcher Sam Platt carried the Lions on the field by striking out three batters and holding St. Norbert to only one run. At the plate, Levine, Conroy, McGuire and junior outfielder Gaby Bennett all recorded three hits.
While the team has won plenty of games, Miller prioritizes on building strength and focus while practicing.
“They have attacked our practices with great focus and paying attention to what they need to do — to be better for the team,” Miller said. “Everyone is not at the same talent level as on any team, but as long as we take everyone’s strengths and keep focusing on those, we can do well with production defensively and offensively as a team.”
After a tremendous week of softball, the Lions earned two awards. On March 14, Namit was named the Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III national pitcher of the week. She was recognized for her two no-hitter performances against Wheaton and Trinity. On Monday, March 19, McGuire was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference player of the week for her offensive performance against New York University.
Despite the successes in Florida, Miller emphasizes that the team has a lot to build on before competing against conference opponents.
“The NJAC is the toughest conference in Division III softball,” Miller said. “We need to continue to stay focused on what we are about. We need every player to be accountable to their strengths for this team and continue to increase their awareness of their personal game. We have a lot of talented players and what we all witnessed in Florida is that they won games collectively with good defense, good offense and good pitching. This is what we will stay focused on.”
The Lions will look to continue their impressive 11-3 start to the season in a doubleheader against SUNY Cortland on at 3 p.m. on Friday, March 23 at Dr. June Walker Field.