The Kenyon softball team kicked off the 2022 season with a successful trip to Florida, going 15-3 in the Sunshine State before dropping two games to Otterbein University.
After struggling in 2021, the Ladies were looking for a better start to the season. In their opener, Kenyon’s offense exploded against Martin Luther College (Minn.). A six-run first inning put the Ladies on top, and they never looked back. Emily Pater ’22 started the game, allowing just one earned run. At the plate, she went three for three while knocking in three runs. After five innings, the game was called with a final score of 21-4.
While their first game had been an offensive outburst, the Ladies’ game against Albion College (Mich.) was a pitchers’ duel. After walking the game’s first batter, Nicole Bishay ’22 was stellar, pitching a seven-inning shutout and relying largely on groundouts and fly-outs to dispatch the Britons. She credited her performance to her growth as a player over her four seasons at Kenyon. “I think because I gained confidence, I was able to perform well and allow the fielders behind me to do their jobs and get the outs we needed on the field to come back in and get some hits,” Bishay wrote in an email to the Collegian. She also drove in the game’s only run with a fourth-inning double.
The next day, Pater helped to keep the Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.) at bay to secure a 1-0 win, with Sara Campagna ’22 driving in the game-winning run. The Ladies had to rally for a come-from-behind win against the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford (Pa.). After falling behind 3-0 by the third inning, the Ladies pounced on a series of errors and wild pitches to take the lead, winning 7-4.
Kenyon’s first loss of the season came in extra innings against Rockford University (Ill.). Despite the Ladies taking a 6-0 lead into the seventh inning, the Regents were able to capitalize with their runners on the basepaths and take an 8-6 lead. Though the Ladies tied the game in the bottom of the seventh inning, Rockford plated four runs in the eighth and took the game 12-9. Kenyon got back to winning ways with a dominating 8-0 win over New Jersey City University (N.J.). Bishay pitched another shutout, while the Ladies were able to put up consistent performances at the plate. Grace Finn ’22, who went two-for-two against the Gothic Knights, attributed the team’s ability to bounce back to their focus on details instead of wins. “Rather than focusing on wins, we’re just trying to improve as much as possible while also playing the best softball we can,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian.
After an off day on March 9, the Ladies got back into action with a doubleheader sweep of Drew University (N.J.) and Immaculata University (Pa.), their first of four consecutive doubleheader sweeps. Bishay and Kenyon were the first to beat Drew this season (5-1), while Emily Buckwalter’s ’22 seven RBIs helped the Ladies cruise to a 15-1 win over Immaculata.
The Ladies beat Western Connecticut State University (Conn.) 7-1 on the strength of a complete game from Bishay. In the latter half of the doubleheader, Kenyon’s offense was dominant against the State University of New York (SUNY), Delhi (N.Y.). Nicole Archambeau ’23 drove in four runs, and Pater, Tori Rogers ’22 and Amanda Harris ’25 combined for a five-inning shutout (16-0). The next day, the Ladies beat Albion for a second time (6-3) before taking the second game of the day from SUNY Brockport (8-3).
A day off on March 13 left Kenyon refreshed and ready to take on Skidmore College (N.Y.) and Wilmington College. The Ladies beat Skidmore 11-3 thanks to a leadoff home run from Finn and three-hit games from Maddie Friday ’24 and Buckwalter. Though the Ladies had just two runs in five innings, they were able to grab momentum in the sixth from a passed ball by Wilmington. Thanks to the offensive outburst and stellar pitching from Bishay, who had earlier that day been named NCAC Pitcher of the Week, the Ladies earned a 10-1 win in six innings. Earning Pitcher of the Week had been a goal of Bishay’s this season. “The competition in our conference is pretty tough this year, so it was really rewarding to see that the hard work we had put in during the off season really paid off in terms of how we performed in Florida,” she said.
Though the Ladies’ 13-1 run to start the season was the best in program history, they faltered in the penultimate Floridian doubleheader. Mustering only two combined runs on the day, Kenyon fell 3-2 to SUNY Oneonta and 9-0 to Central College (Iowa), with the latter being called after five innings. The Ladies left Florida on a high note as they collected their 14th and 15th victories of the season by defeating the University of Maine at Presque Isle 14-5 and Alfred State College (N.Y.) 11-0.
In their first games back from spring break, the Ladies dropped both halves of their doubleheader against Otterbein, falling 12-11 in the first game and 4-2 in the second.
The Ladies’ record stands at 15-5 for the season. Kenyon will next play a doubleheader at Denison University on Saturday, their first conference games of the season. Finn believes that the team will be able to take lessons from their losses to Otterbein and come out on top. “Against Denison, we just need to play solid defense and have timely hitting,” she said. Bishay noted that the team will have to build on their own energy to continue their strong play against Denison and in the future. “We all know how to play softball, but making sure that we keep the momentum in our favor could really be the deciding factor in whether we win or lose,” she said.