By Nina Zimmerman
After splitting a home doubleheader 4-9 and 11-10 vs. Hiram College on Friday, April 12, the Ladies softball team split another doubleheader against Allegheny College, winning 10-6 before losing 6-7.
The team has come a long way over the past few years. “I think we’re doing a much better job this year than last year,” Olivia Lott ’15 said. “We’re playing like we sort of have a chip on our shoulder this season because we were picked to finish ninth in the conference, and we think we can win it.” The team is currently 5-3 in the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC).
The Ladies struggled at the plate in game one against Hiram, mustering only four runs despite having 10 hits in a 4-9 loss. The second game didn’t start out well either, and going into the bottom of the sixth inning the Ladies trailed the Terriers 2-7. After losing game one, the players changed their mindset, according to Lott, and channeled that determination into a five-run rally that tied the game.
“[After losing game one] I think a lot of us were a little pissed off, a little angry, but we channeled that energy really well,” Lott said.
The rally began with a three-run home run by Chelsea Delaney ’15, followed by RBI singles from Liz Paterra ’15 and Danielle Elizarraraz ’16. Hiram scored three more times in the top of the seventh, but the Ladies fought back and scored four runs in the bottom of the inning, capped off by an error by the Terriers’ centerfielder that led to the walk-off win.
After Hiram, Head Coach Erin O’Neill knew that the series against Allegheny would be just as difficult, if not more so. The Ladies hadn’t beaten the Gators since April 29, 2010, before O’Neill became head coach, and the Gators’ starting pitcher for game one, Caitlin Nealer, won the NCAC Pitcher of the Year award last year. The Ladies rose to the occasion and tagged her for 10 runs on 14 hits en route to a 10-6 victory. In game two, the Ladies and Gators were tied 5-5 going into the ninth inning. But Jamie Samuel ’13, pitching in relief of Maddy Stark ’15, gave up a one-out double followed by a walk-off home run that sealed the Gator win and the series split. Even so, the team showed that they can play with the best.
“For every punch they gave us we gave it right back,” O’Neill said. “I couldn’t have been more proud of how they played and how they fought and how far we have progressed since when we started at the beginning of the year.”
Samuel earned the NCAC Player of the Week batting .867 with one home run, four doubles and six RBIs over the weekend.
The Ladies will travel to the College of Wooster on Saturday, April 20 for another conference doubleheader. The next day they head to Cleveland to face Case Western Reserve University. O’Neill said the revamped and hungry Ladies will be ready for the matchups.
“We have proven that we can play really great against the best,” O’Neill said. “And that’s the standard that we need to set. Rather than [us] going and playing at the level of our competition, they need to rise and play their best to beat us. It’s just nice that people recognize that this is a different team and that this is a different Kenyon Ladies softball program.”
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