Opening conference play with a three-game series against Wesleyan this weekend, softball (10-11, 1-2 in the NESCAC) fell below .500 with two losses to the Cardinals. On Saturday, the Ephs dropped their home opener, 12-4. Then on Sunday they rebounded with a convincing 5-1 win before falling, 2-1, in the nightcap. With the two weekend wins, Wesleyan (11-11, 5-1) currently sits atop the NESCAC West standings.
Things went south from the get-go for the Ephs in Saturday’s contest on Cole Field. Wesleyan scored three runs in each of the first three innings to build a 9-3 lead by the third. Over the course of six innings, the Cardinals knocked 13 hits for 12 runs, although the Ephs also put together nine hits of their own.
“We just got outplayed in every facet of the game,” Emily Fowler-Cornfeld ’09 said. “We all came out psyched for our first NESCAC game but just didn’t bring our ‘A’ game.”
Cardinal third baseman Marcia Whitehead went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored. Her two-run single in the second put the Ephs in a hole they never managed to climb out of.
Joey Lye ’09 went 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Morgan Simpson ’09 collected two hits in three at bats. Margaret Ryan ’08 took the loss, giving up nine runs (only four of which were earned) over 2 1/3 innings.
During the first game of Sunday’s twinbill, the Ephs looked like a different team. Simpson was the star of the show, throwing a complete game and helping her own cause with a homerun.
The game was decided by a five-run Williams second, which was highlighted by two long-balls. Simpson’s lead-off solo shot put the Ephs on the board. Then, with two out and two on, Lye singled to drive in the second run. Becky Sansone ’09 capped the inning with a three-run shot to dead center.
Simpson held on to a shutout into the seventh inning. But with two outs, she allowed an RBI single before fanning the final Cardinal batter to complete the Ephs’ 5-1 victory. She finished with five strikeouts over seven innings, allowing seven hits.
Although pitcher Mary Beth Daub ’11 kept things close throughout Game 2, the Williams bats never came to life and the women fell, 2-1. The game remained scoreless into the bottom of the fifth when Lye doubled with two outs and then scored on a Sansone single.
But Wesleyan responded with what would be a game-breaking two runs in the top of the sixth. Cardinal hurler Meaghen Dendy sparked the rally with a lead-off double. The Ephs then misplayed back-to-back grounders that allowed two runs to score, giving Wesleyan the 2-1 lead.
Dendy held on to the lead over the two remaining innings to secure the win. She allowed six hits over the course of seven innings, with one strikeout.
“In the final game of the series, we had a couple minor slip ups that Wesleyan took advantage of,” Lye said. “It was a tight game and we left too many runners on base in potential scoring position.”
Daub took the tough loss, having surrendered two unearned runs. Over seven innings of work she surrendered only three hits while fanning three batters.
Taryn Goodman (2-for-3) was the only Eph to pick up multiple hits in the game. “Taryn had a fabulous weekend at bat,” Fowler-Cornfeld said. “She was consistently crushing the ball and even her outs were hard line drives.”
The women opened their season in Orange, Calif. over spring break during which they played 18 games over 11 days. They capped the trip by trouncing Elmherst 17-0 to finish with a 9-9 record.
“Over spring break we worked hard to reach a goal we often set for ourselves of finishing at least .500,” Lye said. “There are a couple of games we would have liked to walk away from with a victory, but overall we had a pretty successful trip. We improved over the two weeks and came back excited about the progress we made as a team.”
Williams plays in a doubleheader at Smith tonight.