Softball gets off to surprising start

The departure of former head coach David Caputi and the graduation of 7 seniors, including two All-Americans, left the Williams Softball program with only 5 returning players and some big cleats to fill. Though this season is no doubt one of transition for the team, it also promises to be successful, thanks to the arrival of a talented class of 2003 and experienced coaches, George Galli and Joe Milan.

On the spring trip to Orange, California, perrenial national powerhouses from the west coast and mid-west offered the first challenge to a small and inexperienced roster of 11 players in 15 games over 10 days. Despite the loss of a lot of skin, some blood, and even part of a tooth, the team never lost heart on the field, and physical and mental resilience enabled the Ephs to return home with a record of 9-6, very good scars, and even better stories.

The Softball team continued their regular season, beginning NESCAC play with recent contests against Union, RPI, and Wesleyan. Even though the week’s losses (3) outnumber the wins (2), the Ephwomen continue to show promise and improvement. Solid pitching by first-years Katherine Baldwin and Kaitlyn DeLuca and strong defensive play, particularly on the left side of the diamond fielded by Kricket Massimiano ’03, Jess Hartley ’02, and Caitlin Carr ’01, limited Union to 11 hits and 5 runs in 14 innings of play. The Eph offense, however, was less consistent and failed to capitalize on 13 hits, including 4 from Karen McCloskey ’02 and 3 from Courtney Hunter ’03. Unable to knock in 15 runners left on base, Williams came up a few runs short in 2-1 and 3-2 doubleheader losses. The troubles at the plate continued the next day as the Ephs suffered a 1-0 extra-inning loss to RPI. Despite outstanding pitching by Katherine Baldwin, who allowed only 4 hits in the 8-inning contest, and errorless defensive play at all positions, Williams batters struggled against the RPI pitcher.

More than half of the Eph batting order consists of hitters who bunt or slap-hit from the left side of the plate and use speed on the basepaths to manufacture runs. The bunters and slappers contributed 5 of the 6 Williams hits, with 2 by Jen Garabedian ’01, and they managed to reach base safely to lead off the bottom half of four innings. A very effective rise-ball thrown by RPI made it tough, however, for the other Eph batters to put the ball in play on the ground consistently, limiting the effectiveness of the speed game and resulting in another one run decision against Williams.

The Ephs’ solid defense and dominant pitching persisted, and finally was complemented by a relentless offense in the doubleheader sweep of Little Three rival Wesleyan last Saturday, 6-4 and 17-0. Errorless performances in the field held the Cardinals to just 4 runs in the first game and shut them out in the second. DeLuca and Baldwin pitched the Ephs to victory, allowing just 4 and 2 hits, respectively. DeLuca retired the side in order four times, and Baldwin fanned six Wesleyan batters.

Everyone in the line-up reached base safely at least once in the 27-hit, 23-run Eph assault in the two games against Wesleyan. Gisele Pinck ’02 and McCloskey led the way, each with four hits. The First-year players also had superstar performances at the plate, as Courtney Hunter, Tracy Henderson, Katherine Baldwin, and Kricket Massimiano contributed extra-base hits, and Kaitlyn DeLuca and Lisa Haney had several hits apiece.

Williams Softball next takes the field on Wednesday for a 4:30 game against cross-town rival MCLA, with whom the team will then host Middlebury, Colby, Tufts, and Wesleyan for a weekend tournament. The Ephs will welcome all of their families, who will come from as far as Switzerland and as nearby as Pittsfield, to Cole field for the 5-game series.