Whether it was the sunny weather, the energy of the rookies, or just the anticipation of a new season, the softball team discovered a magic ingredient in Florida.
Coming off of a less-than-thrilling 14-28 2005 season, the Elis (14-4) found the perfect remedy in six hard-hitting and harder-pitching freshmen and outperformed expectations over break.
“The Class of ’09 has come out literally swinging,” second baseman Christina Guerland ’07 said. “They’re hitting the ball hard, playing good defense, and the pitchers are throwing great games for us. They come out fearless and they’re doing a great job.”
The Bulldogs started the season in Lake Wales, Florida with two wins against Warner Southern. Next stop was Osceola, Florida for the week-long Rebel Spring Games. The Bulldogs ended their first day of the tournament undefeated after winning, 7-6, against Valparaiso (6-4), and against Tennessee State (12-12), 6-1. Catcher Megan Enyeart ’09 had three RBI and a run scored in the win over Valparaiso.
The next day, the Elis remained undefeated and extended their winning streak to six games with close wins, a 4-3 victory against Providence (12-4) and a 5-3 win over St. Joseph’s (3-15). The Bulldogs finally lost to South Dakota State (12-11), a 7-0 defeat.
The following games of the tournament were close. The Bulldogs won 3-2 against both La Salle (7-8) and Sacred Heart (10-14) and 3-0 over Wagner (10-9) before losing to Eastern Illinois (17-9-1), 2-0, Butler (8-6), 5-3, and Cleveland State (11-3), 1-0. They ended their Florida stay on a high note with a 4-1 victory over the Colgate Red Raiders (7-6).
“I am really happy with the way we came out of Florida,” shortstop Aracelis Torres ’08 said. “We definitely saw improvement from last season. We gelled well, got some wins and some key hits down there.”
Upon their return from Florida, the Elis played two home games against Manhattan (7-7), a 4-3 loss followed by a 9-1 win. Catcher Kathleen Turner ’09, Enyeart and Guerland each homered in the eight-run blowout. The next day, the Bulldogs were unable to top St. John’s (13-8), who twice defeated them, 7-6 and then 3-2.
Despite the wins, pitcher/outfielder Deanna DiBernardi ’09 said the Elis did not perform as successfully this past weekend as they did down South.
“Over the break, we were hitting well in key situations, with runners on base,” DiBernardi said. “We didn’t do that [Saturday] or [Sunday], which was tough.”
In all four games, the Bulldogs had runners on base but were unable to hit them in, something they also struggled with last season.
“It’s all about hitting the ball and stringing hits together to score the runs, not just getting a hit here and hit there and stranding runners like we did last season,” Guerland said.
The Elis are optimistic about the rest of the season.
“We’re taking it game by game and it’s been a pretty good start so far,” Guerland said. “We’re just trying to work out the kinks in non-league games so we can be sharp both offensively and defensively in our game.”