Section: Sports

Softball finishes strong after tumultuous start to the season

Softball finishes strong after tumultuous start to the season

Bella Albrecht '22 | COURTESY OF KENYON ATHLETICS

Despite extending their losing streak to six games in back-to-back doubleheaders versus Hiram College, the Kenyon softball team started to show progress in their final game of the weekend, falling to the Terriers 3-2 in a hard-fought seven innings. 

It’s no mystery why the Ladies’ season is off to a rocky start. With first-year students off campus this spring and a number of their older teammates deferring, including star hitter Grace Finn ’21, the team went from having 21 players last spring to now only 11 — a particularly small roster for any team.

On top of this, the Ladies entered Saturday morning’s home game following two weeks of no intercollegiate competition, due to the most recent quiet period. Kenyon’s lack of momentum was readily apparent in game one. After giving up three runs in the first inning, pitcher Emily Pater ’22 seemed to settle in; she retired two batters with ease in the bottom of the second. However, Pater then took a line drive to the kneecap, allowing another to score. 

After taking a moment to collect herself, Pater was ready to continue. One pitch later, she gave up a two-run blast to Hiram corner infielder Mariah Sheffield, the ball sailing over the left-center field wall. The team went on to lose the game 10-0 in just five innings. The second game continued in a similar fashion, with Kenyon losing 3-13. 

The Ladies travelled to Hiram on Sunday looking for redemption. While they fell to the Terriers 4-0 in the first game, pitcher Tori Rogers ’22 tossed a complete game, striking out a pair of batters. Outfielder Clare McMahon ’22, who currently leads the team with a .471 batting average, continued her hot hitting with a leadoff double to start the game, but ultimately was the first of seven runners left on base.

When it came time for the fourth game of the weekend, the Ladies stepped on the gas, with what was likely their strongest showing of the season thus far. After allowing one run in the first, the team quickly bounced back. With two outs, Kathryn Riggs ’21 worked a walk and proceeded to steal second when Rogers showed bunt on the next pitch. Rogers then hit a single up the middle, plating Riggs for the tying run. 

From there, Pater pitched three scoreless innings, including six consecutive outs, giving her team the opportunity to take their first lead of the season in the fifth inning. After having two missed opportunities to score in the previous two frames, Albrecht put her team in position to score with a double up the left field line, sending McMahon to third. Hiram pitcher Bailey Scheck then loaded the bases for lefty Madde Hyland ’22, who proceeded to hit an opposite-field single over the shortstop’s head, sending McMahon home. 

Despite allowing two unearned runs in the bottom half of the frame, the Ladies did not give in just yet. With two outs, McMahon hit a bloop single to left field, bringing Albrecht to the plate. Once again, Albrecht clobbered a double up the left field line, and with two outs, Head Coach Erin O’Neill gave McMahon the green light as she rounded third. In what was the textbook definition of a bang-bang play, McMahon was tagged out at home after Hiram center fielder Melissa Galindo made an on-the-money throw to the plate. 

However, O’Neill — who had a clear line of sight from her post along the third base line — contested the play, arguing that Hiram catcher Giselle Bahena had obstructed the plate, making it impossible for McMahon to score. The umpire entertained the discussion, but did not overturn the decision. Had McMahon scored, the game would have been tied at 3, making Albrecht — who had advanced to third on the throw home — the go-ahead run. Although the Ladies did not allow the Terriers to score in the bottom half of the inning, they couldn’t string together a rally in the seventh, and Hiram held on to win 3-2. 

When the Ladies returned to Gambier Sunday night, still without a win under their belts, they could still hold their heads high after a well-played, nail-biting fourth game. We have been getting better every game,”Albrecht wrote in a message to the Collegian. “On Sunday everyone played with a lot of intensity and if we can keep that up going into our games against Wooster I think we can be successful.”

Hopefully, this momentum will carry the Ladies to a victory in their upcoming games against the College of Wooster this weekend. They will play two doubleheaders against Wooster, the first of which is at home on Saturday starting at 1 p.m.

 

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