After starting the season with a 6–2 record, the softball team hit a rough patch, winning just one out of 14 games. Last weekend, the Bulldogs snapped out of their skid with a six-game sweep of Penn, Columbia and Rhode Island. Freshman pitcher Chelsey Dunham ’14 played a key role in those wins, as she was the winning pitcher in four of those six games and allowed just nine earned runs in 30 innings of work with 20 strikeouts. Dunham talked to the News about transitioning to college ball and the team’s chances of winning the Ancient Eight title.
Q The team is coming off a great weekend, winning all six of its games and sweeping Penn, Columbia and Rhode Island. Can you talk about how important it was in getting the team back on track?
A It was really important to get all those wins this weekend just to kind of validate how well we started off our season, and more so just to get the momentum back on our side. In all the games that we’ve played we’ve been hitting well or we’ve fielded really well, but we’ve never had both. This weekend finally showed that we can bring it all together.
Q The team is currently tied for second place in the North Division with Brown. How do you feel about your chances of winning the Ancient Eight crown?
A I think it’s really great, we’re all super pumped heading into this weekend against Dartmouth [and] just really excited to play, especially since our games got canceled today. Our goal is just to take it all, and we definitely believe we can do it.
Q This week you earned Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this season. How nice was that?
A It was nice. I was really surprised; I didn’t think that would happen. It’s nice, but for the play this weekend it really took the team to win and I just did my part.
Q Have you always been a pitcher?
A Yes, I’ve always been a pitcher. When I was younger, I also played a lot of infield, and as I grew older I just stuck more with pitching. In high school I was only a pitcher, and in travel I would pitch and play outfield as well.
Q What attracted you to that position?
A To be honest, I started pitching when I was 8 years old, and that was a long time ago, so I can’t really remember. I think I tried out and the team I was on was in need of pitchers, so I think I just wanted to give it a shot, and I just always stuck with it.
Q Was it hard making the transition from playing at the high school level to playing at the college level?
A Yeah, it definitely was a transition, especially throwing to batters because they’re more experienced, so just knowing which pitches to throw. But it was great, because my catcher McKynlee Westman ’11 is not only the captain, but since she’s an upperclassman she has a lot of experience behind the plate, so she’s been teaching me what I should throw in different situations, what pitches I should go to and that kind of thing.
Q In the second game against Columbia over the weekend, you came in to pitch with the game tied and the bases loaded with no outs and retired the next three batters to get out of the jam. Do you like the challenge that those types of situations present?
A Yeah, I really do like the challenge of those situations. For my team’s sake, I hope we don’t have to be in those challenges ever again, but I don’t mind throwing to them. I’ve had to come in in the past on old teams and do the same thing. As far as the pressure with it, I went into the inning thinking that there weren’t any runners on, and even though we had no outs, it wasn’t a big deal. Fortunately the team was able to field defensively and get out of that inning with no runs scored.
Q This season you’ve started games and also done relief pitching. Do you approach those two roles differently?
A Not really. I try to go in with the same mental attitude whether I start or I have to come in to relieve. I guess it’s the same.
Q This year the team only had one returning pitcher and the rest were freshman. What was it like joining a pitching staff that is so young?
A It was different that there wasn’t the upperclassman pitcher that’s been here for a while, but we do have our one upperclassman pitcher [Jackie Manzer ’13] and she’s helped out a lot, explaining different things in the Ivy League and how pitching is and everything. Even though she’s only a sophomore, she’s been very helpful.