The Year in Sports: Spring Season
Issue   |   Thu, 05/19/2016 - 19:32
Amherst Athletics

Baseball started their season strong, winning all but one of their nine games in Florida. They went on to win all but one of their series in the NESCAC West division, dropping only their series versus Wesleyan. This performance earned them a spot in the NESCAC championship tournament, where they were seeded second in the West division. The team dropped their first two games in the double elimination NESCAC tournament, and their 24-13 record was not enough to earn them an at-large bit to the NCAA tournament. The squad looks to improve next year, returning many of their key players including Ariel Kenney ’18, who led the team with a .359 batting average, Anthony Spina ’17 — who led the NESCAC with six homeruns as well as leading the team in on-base percentage with .444 — and Yanni Thanapoulos ’17, who led the NESCAC in runs batted in with 33 on the season. On the mound, they will return starting pitcher Jackson Volle ’17 who led the NESCAC with a 1.94 ERA over 10 appearances for a 6-1 overall record.

Men’s Golf
The men’s gold team rounded out their spring season by finishing third at the NECAC championship. Amherst opened its spring slate at the Hampton Inn Invitational hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and placed eighth, before securing second place at the Little III Championship against league foes Williams and Wesleyan. They earned a sixth-place finish at the Williams Spring Opener with a score of 159 from Danny Langa ’18, and 160 from first-year Jack Burlison. The young team will graduate only two seniors and looks to come back next year to dominate the NESCAC.

Women’s Golf
Women’s golf impressed this year, concluding their season by finishing second at the Williams Spring Invitational, led by a third -place overall finish by sophomore Zoe Wong. Other notable performances include their first-place finish at the Jack Leaman Invitational, where they competed against Division I programs. Junior Jamie Gracie earned top individual honors for her five-under par-69 performance. Three golfers earned all-NESCAC laurels when first-year Katie Rosenberg was named a first team selection, while senior co-captain Devyn Gardner and fellow first-year Kate Weiss were honored with second team awards.

Men’s Lacrosse
Amherst men’s lacrosse had a successful season, posting an overall record of 14-5 on the season. The purple and white made a deep postseason run, falling only to St. Lawrence in the quarterfinals of the NCAA championship tournament after earning a coveted at-large bid to the postseason showdown.
The Amherst offense was led by a stellar group of seniors, including captain Quinn Moroney ’16, who notched 101 points on 34 goals and a team-high 67 assists (his 3.63 helpers per game leads the country). Classmate and fellow captain Kane Haffey follows with a team-best 47 goals and 13 assists for 60 points.
Ryan Cassidy ’16 anchors a tough purple and white defense with 34 caused turnovers, while Amherst has been lucky enough to have seen two fantastic goalies between the pipes this season. Senior Thomas Gilligan split time with junior Cody Tranbarger, impressing with 55.8 and 52.9 save percentages, respectively.
The squad will lose an extremely talented senior class, but is looking to rebuild and take advantage of the young talent to make another postseason run next year.

Women’s Lacrosse
The Amherst women’s lacrosse team (13-4) earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Championship for a 12th time and its first since 2014 after narrowly missing the tournament last season. They are slated to play in the quarterfinal game Saturday, May 21 versus Gettysburg College at 2:30 p.m. at Middlebury after winning their second round NCAA tournament game against York College. Senior attackers and midfielders Rachel Passarelli and Mia Haughton who have scored 35 and 26 goals, respectively, lead the team. Haughton leads the squad with 51 points overall on 25 assists, and Passarelli is right behind, with 48. Senior goalkeeper Christy Forrest has spent 991:30 in goal this season, tallying 122 saves for a 52.4 percent save percentage. The purple and white will battle Gettysburg this weekend to see if they extend their successful season to the NCAA semifinal round.

Men’s Outdoor Track and Field
The men’s outdoor track team continued their indoor season into a strong showing in the spring. They claimed top-10 finishes in several big meets, including Division III New England Championships, where they finished ninth out of a talented 31-team field, and NESCAC championships, where they finished sixth. The men are currently in the middle of ECAC championships at Westfield State University, a meet that spans over two days. At the end of the first day, the men are sitting at fifth place in a pool of 36 teams.

Standouts for the men’s team this season have included sophomore Mohamed Hussein, who recently raced to a first-place finish in the ECAC championships, cutting five full seconds off of his seeding time to claim first in a time of 14:30.04. An accomplished long distance and cross-country runner, Hussein also set a personal record at the Penn Relays in the 10,000-meter race with a time of 30:05.88. The men excelled in the distance events this season, as senior Jeff Seelaus stuck with Hussein all season, adding depth to the men’s 5,000-meter roster. Seelaus was also a strong competitor in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, setting several personal best times throughout the season and peaking at the NEICAAA championship race, where he finished with a personal best of 9:21.36 to finish third overall.

Women’s Outdoor Track and Field
Amherst opened their season with a strong third place finish at the Amherst Invitational. They continued to finish 10th at NESCAC Championships and 19th of 31 teams at Division III New England Championships.

Victoria Hensley ’16 led the purple and white with another record-breaking season. Racing in the 400 meters at Open New England Championships, Hensley set a new school record with a time of 57.39.

Amherst’s top performers for the season also included jumpers Abbey Asare-Bediako ’18 and Becki Golia ’18. Asare-Bediako jumped a personal best 11.55 meters in the triple jump at ECAC Championships, finishing the season in the top 25 nationally. In the high jump, Golia jumped a height of 1.63 meters at NESCAC championships to claim third place in the league.For her personal best jump at NESCACs, Golia was also named to the All-NESCAC team.

Amherst softball had a comeback season after narrowly missing the NESCAC tournament last year. The squad brought in six talented first-years and a rookie senior, all of whom helped strengthen the team and lead them to a third place NESCAC finish. Battling injuries all year, the team went 24-12 overall, 7-5 in conference, dropping just one NESCAC series, to Williams, and losing to Tufts twice in the NESCAC tournament. The young squad looks to come back strong and healthy next year, with three first-years garnering All-NESCAC selections. Kyra Naftel held a .416 batting average and led the NESCAC in triples; Sammy Salustri maintained a .376 average and was voted NESCAC defensive player of the year. This was the first time in history that a first-year was awarded this honor. Salustri recorded just two errors this year for a 0.983 fielding percentage. Rounding out the group, right-handed pitcher Lorena Ukanwa kept a 2.59 ERA in 105.1 innings pitched for an 8-4 record; she led the conference in strikeouts (97) and strikeouts per game with 6.45.

Men’s Tennis
The men’s tennis team, which has dominated the NESCAC with a 41-1 regular season record and three NESCAC titles in the past five years, struggled to replicate their recent success.

After going 8-2 during their spring break trip to California, the purple and white started the season strong with dominating victories over NESCAC opponents Colby and Trinity. They dropped their next matchup with Tufts, 7-2, before defeating Bates and losing to Bowdoin. Amherst then suffered three hard-fought defeats in a row, including narrow 5-4 losses to Little Three rivals Wesleyan and Williams. The team finished regular season play with a 15-9 record overall (3-5 NESCAC), entering the NESCAC tournament for the 16th consecutive season as the sixth seed.

The purple and white avenged their regular season defeat to third-seeded Williams in the first round, upsetting the Ephs to face second-seeded Bowdoin in the conference semifinals. They fell to Bowdoin, however, and did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Amherst No. 1 singles Anton Zykov ’17 and No. 1 doubles pairing Aaron Revzin ’16 and Michael Solimano ’16 earned All-NESCAC first team honors. Zykov compiled an 8-5 record (2-2 NESCAC) record playing from the first singles spot, while Revzin and Solimano went 18-11 on the year.

The team loses seven seniors this year, including key contributors Revzin, Solimano, Andrew Yaraghi and Ben Fife. However, Zykov and Zach Bessette ’19 return to lead the lineup next year, while Amherst looks to return to its recent dominance.

Women’s Tennis
Entering the season coming off of a national semifinal appearance in 2015 and ranked fourth nationally, the women’s tennis team entered its 2016 season with high expectations. Facing some of the nation’s top Division III teams on their spring break trip to California, the purple and white struggled with consistency and returned with a 3-3 record.

Amherst hit its stride upon returning, however, winning seven straight matches, including victories over NESCAC rivals Colby, Bowdoin and Trinity. The purple and white then faced some of the conference’s and nation’s best to finish its season, losing to Williams and Middlebury but defeating Wesleyan and Tufts. The squad finished the regular season with a 14-7 record (5-2 NESCAC) and entered the conference tournament as the third seed. Vickie Ip ’18 and Jackie Calla ’17E garnered All-NESCAC second team honors for their performances from No. 2 and No. 3 singles in Amherst’s lineup, respectively.

After a narrow 5-4 win over Tufts in the first round of NESCACs, Amherst fell to Middlebury 5-4 in a tight semifinal matchup. Earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the purple and white dispatched SUNY Geneseo in the second round before defeating in-conference foe Wesleyan in the third round. They face Middlebury on Monday, May 23, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, seeking their second straight national semifinal appearance.