When Punxsutawney Phil arose from his burrow on February 2 he saw his shadow, indicating that we would see six more weeks of winter, but it seems that the Ursinus Softball team didn’t get the memo. The team got the season started with two big wins against Stevens, kicking off their season in a major way.
The team played its first two games of the year in a double-header which saw them sweep the two-time defending MAC Freedom champions. Their bats were alive for the first game, which they won in a 13-8 shootout, while their pitching came up big in the latter game, helping them edge out the Ducks in 5-4 battle.
The wins marked the first wins of new head coach Taylor Gardner’s career and started the Bears season off on the right note as they try to improve from a 17-18 record last season. Senior pitcher Alexis Miller, who earned a save in the first game and the win in the second, said, “We were fired up especially since rankings came out like the day before and we were ranked 8th in conference. We wanted to prove people wrong, and we did that on Sunday.”
In the first game the Bears got the day started off early when, after going scoreless in the first two frames, they pushed six runs across the plate in the bottom of the third inning. The Bears had five hits in the inning but the biggest one came off the bat of senior Amanda Panati. With the bases loaded and no outs Panati stepped up to plate and smacked a bases-clearing double into right field. This was followed up one batter later by first-year catcher Kayla Carr, who blasted a two-run shot into left field for her first collegiate home run. The Bears would tack on an insurance run at the end of the inning along with two more in the bottom of the fourth. The Ducks would fight back and threaten the lead, scoring seven in the top of the fifth, but the Bears were able to stop the bleeding and add a few more runs on their way to the 13-8 victory.
The second game was a much different contest, as pitching and fielding took the spotlight away from the offenses. The Bears again jumped out to an early lead as they took the advantage 4-0 in the bottom of the first inning when, despite it not quite being spring yet, junior Maddie Solow brought the rain anyways when she hit a towering three-run shot into left field. The Ducks would start to fight back in the top of the fourth, when a double with two runners on made it a 4-1 ballgame. A single in the next at-bat made it a 4-2 game, but a great relay throw by sophomore Samantha Mallen to junior catcher Madison Wilson prevented another run from scoring on the play. Wilson would flip the ball to Miller who tagged the base runner down the third baseline after a good old-fashioned pickle. Mallen would again come through for the Bears when she led off the bottom of the fourth with a double and scored on a single from Panati. The Ducks would score again in the fifth, but it meant little as the Bears won 5-4.
The two wins were ideal for the Bears as they were able to execute in all aspects of the game. Wilson, who went 3 for 6 with 2 RBIs on the day, said of the games, “From top to bottom no matter who was on the field or off, us 21 girls got the job done. Getting two wins before we go down on our spring break trip is a huge morale booster and it gets the ball rolling.”
Brian Tague: firstname.lastname@example.org