Softball Goes 8-4 Over Spring Break at National Training Center Games
Issue   |   Tue, 03/24/2015 - 23:45
Amherst Athletics
Donna Leet '15 blasted three home runs over the course of the spring break trip.

Though they undoubtedly enjoyed the much warmer climate in Florida, it was hardly just a vacation week for the Amherst women’s softball team. With 12 games in only seven days, the Jeffs hit the ground at a sprint to start off their season. Thanks to strong contributions from multiple players, the team now sports an 8-4 record as they return back to the Northeast.

The Jeffs played six double-headers over the course of the week, with only a brief respite on Wednesday to catch their breath. The week provided an exciting change of venue for the team and an opportunity to showcase the work they had put in during the offseason.

“Over the course of our spring break tournament, our team improved with each game,” said Alena Marovitz ’17. “After practicing indoors for most of preseason due to our lovely New England weather, we thrived in the Florida sun and came out ready to compete on the dirt and grass.”

In their season opener on Sunday, the team fell to the 12th-ranked St. Thomas team 18-9, but they showed signs of a hitting depth that helped them throughout the week and will remain key for the rest of the season. Brianna Cook ’16 went 3-for-3 with a triple and two singles, while co-captain Donna Leet ’15 finished 1-for-2 with four RBI. The Jeffs also received contributions from their first-years corps, with Jackie Carr, Bailey Plaman and Ally Kido contributing four RBI as a group.

But Amherst came storming back in the second leg of their double-header, setting the tone early in their matchup against the Benedictine Eagles by scoring five runs in the top of the second to take a 5-0 lead. Carr played a main role in the scoring burst and the game as a whole, driving in three runs with her second-inning triple as part of a 4-for-5, 4 RBI effort. The Eagles weren’t going down without a fight though, scoring three runs in the bottom of the third and four more in the fifth to go up 7-5. Amherst responded with their bats to add three more runs, but the Eagles tied the game 8-8 in the bottom of the 6th to force extra innings. After a tense seventh inning, Amherst closed out the game in convincing fashion with four runs in the top of the eighth to grab their first win of the season 12-9.

“The first win against Benedictine was huge for us. I think it really set the tone for the rest of the week,” Annie Apffel ’17, who had a double as part of a 2-for-5 outing said of the extra-innings win. “The game was really back and forth for the first six innings and then we came up with a few clutch hits and stayed solid on our defense in order to pull out the win. The main thing we took away from it though is how special this team really is: We wanted to win and once we decided that, there was nothing that was going to stop us.”

The win over the Eagles started a six-game win streak for the Jeffs. On Monday, the Jeffs swept their second double-header with an 8-2 win against Plattsburgh State and an 8-3 victory over Framingham State. In the first game, Jackie Buechler ’17 built off her impressive first-year pitching campaign by allowing only one earned run on three hits to go along with seven strikeouts. The Jeffs again showed their hitting depth with six different Amherst players contributing a hit, led by Carr and Marovitz, who each went 2-for-3, and Leet, who had an exciting inside-the-park three-run homer in the top of the seventh.

In the second game of the double-header, the team was led by strong pitching efforts from Lauren Tuiskula ’17, who earned the win after allowing just three runs (one earned) and striking out three in five innings, and Nicolette Miranda ’17, who pitched two innings of shutout relief pitching to go with 3 hits and a scored run.

Amherst’s winning ways continued throughout the week. On Friday, the Jeffs defeated Macalester College 10-3 on the backs of consistent pitching and some power hitting. Buechler picked up the win with a six-inning effort in which she allowed only three runs on four hits, while Gina Pagan ’18 showed the first-year class isn’t lacking in pitching prowess by adding an inning of relief without yielding a hit or run. Buechler and Pagan were supported by some big hits, as Leet added a third home run to her week with another three-run shot, and Cook hit a grand slam.

Though they would lose a pitching battle against MIT 1-0, with Buechler still throwing a complete game with 6 strikeouts and only one unearned run, the Jeffs return back to campus carrying a lot of momentum into a very promising season.

Reflecting back on the week and looking ahead to the coming games, Marovitz said, “I was proud that we all contributed in our own ways, whether it was laying down a sacrifice bunt, making the routine play in the field, or coming up with a clutch hit,” Marovitz said. “We are looking forward to putting in the work over the next week so we can build off of our solid start.”

The team will look to continue their success as they open up their regular season this weekend, hosting a three game series against Hamilton.