Section: Softball

Softball struggles to close out games in conference play

The Kenyon softball team played eight games over the past week, starting on April 25, when it was swept in a home doubleheader by Wittenberg University. The Owls were then beaten on the road by Hiram College and Denison University before splitting with Earlham College on Tuesday. Kenyon’s record now stands at 15-21 (1-11 NCAC).

The opening game against Wittenberg was a close affair, as the Owls held the lead for most of the game behind a fast start at the plate. In the third inning, Maeve McLaughlin ’26 opened up the scoring to give Kenyon the early advantage and just two innings later, Brooke Avila ’27 smacked a big two-run double to put the Owls up 3-1. However, Wittenberg fought back and produced a run in both the sixth and seventh innings to send the game into extras. While Kenyon’s bats stalled out on them in the two additional frames, the Tigers were able to produce just enough offense to give them the game winning run in the top of the ninth inning, dooming the Owls to the narrow 4-3 loss. In the defeat, Kylie Hamm ’27 pitched all nine innings and had six strikeouts.

The second contest of Kenyon’s two-game tilt against Wittenberg was just as close, but this time it was the Owls fighting back from a deficit. The Tigers quickly jumped on Kenyon starter Amanda Harris ’25, and held a 3-0 lead through the top of the fourth inning. After loading the bases on two errors and a walk, Maddie Friday ’24 stepped up and hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Keala Montgomery ’27 for Kenyon’s first run. One batter later, Allison McCutchen ’26 hit a single to cut the deficit to 3-2. After the Tigers tacked on another run, things looked bleak for the Owls as they headed to the bottom of the seventh inning, but a pair of singles by Montgomery and Arianna Jalomo ’26 and a Tigers error allowed Kenyon to make it a one-run game. However, that was all the Owls could muster and they once again fell 4-3.

On Saturday against the Terriers, the Owls found themselves in a pitching duel in game one. Hamm was masterful, only giving up two earned runs in six innings of work, but the offense could not back her up. Only in the top of the fifth inning, when Avila singled, stole second and was brought home by a double from Friday, was Kenyon able to scratch any runs across. The Owls’ lack of momentum lasted until the final out of the game, as Celia Torino ’27 was picked off at first base to finalize the 2-1 defeat. 

Kenyon seemed to learn from its mistakes to start the second game, as the Owls put an early two runs on the Terriers in the top of the first inning. The runs came from a sacrifice fly from Maddie Buckwalter ’26 and a double by McLaughlin, but were not enough to halt the offensive fireworks coming their way. Hiram instantly responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the first inning to take a 3-2 lead. Kenyon fell into another offensive lull and the Owls didn’t score another run for the rest of the contest, only registering two hits over the final eight innings in the 4-2 loss. Natalya Delsante ’25, who is fourth on the team in hits, wrote in an email to the Collegian, “It is important that we work to string hits together, rather than sporadic contact. Being RBI-oriented and having quality at bats is always my goal in the lead off spot.”

Less than a day later, the Owls hit the road to take on Denison. In the first game, early runs were the headline once again, although this time it was the Big Red who jumped ahead early. Hamm, who started the game on the mound, struggled to get batters out and Denison went up 4-0 after the first inning. It was smooth sailing for the Big Red until the top of the third inning, when a wild pitch scored Friday for Kenyon’s first run of the game. Then, one inning later, an RBI double from Avila would cut the Denison lead to 5-2. The Owls couldn’t generate any more offense, however, and the Big Red would pile on three more runs by the end of the game to hand Kenyon its first loss of the day 8-2.

Things didn’t get any easier for the Owls in game two, as Denison’s pitching staff came out with a vengeance, only giving up two hits on the entire day to Kenyon batters. Once again, the Denison lineup caused problems for the Owls, tagging Kenyon pitchers Jillian Messinger ’26 and McCutchen for nine total runs. The game ended after five innings due to the run (mercy) rule with the score being 9-0 in favor of Denison.

Things turned around on Tuesday, as the Owls beat the Quakers 8-0. In the first inning, an Earlham error would allow Montgomery and McLaughlin to step up for big RBI singles to take an early two-run lead. Kenyon got back to work in the third, as Montgomery smoked an RBI triple down the right field line. An RBI single from Harris in the fourth inning padded the Owls’ lead, but the fifth was when Kenyon did the most damage. After Montgomery, McLaughlin and Buckwalter loaded the bases, Friday came through with a big RBI single. Two batters later, Harris hit another single to score two more runs. Finally, Jalomo hit an RBI single to walk the game off in run (mercy) rule fashion. Hamm pitched all five innings in the run-rule shortened game, dealing out five strikeouts and giving up zero earned runs.

The Owls were not able to continue their success in game two, as they fell 10-4. While Earlham started off the scoring in the first inning, Kenyon responded in the third inning with a RBI sacrifice bunt from Friday and then a Quakers error that scored two more to give the Owls a 3-1 lead. From there, it was all Earlham, though, as they scored nine runs over the next four innings. Jalomo hit an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, but it was once again too little, too late for the Owls.

Kenyon will be back in action again on Saturday, where they will close out the regular season with a home doubleheader against Ohio Wesleyan University. “It is very easy to get caught up in stats and failure, but reminding myself and my team that this is meant to be a fun game has worked well,” Delsante said. “Our collective goal is to play to our full potential and to back our talented pitchers up with strong defense and consistent hitting.”

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