Softball Moves into First Place in NESCAC West
By Elaine Teng '12, Editor-in-Chief
In a weekend where they hardly paused to breathe, the Jeffs delivered crushing blows to rivals Wesleyan and Hamilton to surge to first place in the NESCAC West. The team shares the top berth with Middlebury, who they face in two weeks time in what is sure to be a tripleheader filled with action, tension and passion.

While the Jeffs initially fell to the Cardinals in their first encounter on Friday, losing 3-0 in a game featuring an intense pitcher’s duel in the first four and a half innings, they came back with a vengeance the next afternoon, trouncing Wesleyan 11-6 in the first game and edging them out 4-3 in the nightcap.

Despite the impressive Lord Jeff score, the statistics seemed to favor the Cardinals, who scored in six of the seven innings. However, the Jeffs pulled together a blockbuster third inning to blow Wesleyan out of the water, scoring seven runs in just one inning to clinch the game. The game was really a batter exhibition, with both teams pulling out all of the offensive stops and combining for 17 runs on 21 hits. Reilly Horan ’13, Carolyn Miller ’14 and Kaitlin Silkowitz ’14 each had two hits and two RBIs, while fellow underclassman Arielle Doering ’14 earned the win by pitching 4-2 in the first six innings for the Jeffs.

The Jeffs carried this momentum into the second game, seizing the lead with a first inning RBI-double from Theresa Kelley ’13. The Cardinals would not go down easy, however, and the game went back and forth until the seventh inning, when Silkowitz stepped up to the plate. The first-year, whose hard hitting had already helped the Jeffs to victory earlier that day, led off with an infield single, stole second and progressed to third on a flyout to center before Annemarie Iker ’12 brought her home in her second game-winning hit in as many weeks, sending the ball flying into the gap in left center to clinch the doubleheader for the Jeffs.

With the pair of victories under their belts, the team went into their Sunday match-up against Hamilton brimming with confidence. The Jeffs had already defeated the Continentals twice the week before, and repeated the scoring bonanza by crushing Hamilton 8-0. The icing on the cake for the team was that they had 11 hits and did not commit a single error on the field. Kelley held the visitors to just one hit in five innings.

The game came off to a slow start, however, with Hamilton holding its own through two and a half scoreless innings. In a season where underclassmen have dominated the headlines, senior tri-captain Katie Kervick seized the initiative by belting out the first home run of her collegiate career, igniting an Amherst offensive frenzy. The Jeffs would add another four runs in the inning, with two more in the fourth and one in the fifth to activate the mercy rule.

For Kervick, the home run was a long time coming, and she hopes that it will be the first of many. “The home run feels great!” she said. “I’ve been waiting almost four years for it, and it means even more now because I think it has given me the confidence I need to break out of the hitting slump I’ve been in for most of the season.”

Kervick was not the only senior standout in the game, with tri-captain Jillian Masi ’11 going 3-3 and driving home the winning run. Pitcher Kelley continued to shine, striking out three batters and walking none in just one inning. The team will now play Smith on Wednesday in a pair of non-conference games in preparation for Keene State and Middlebury, with whom they are tied for first in the NESCAC West.

“We play Middlebury next weekend and Williams the following weekend,” explained Kervick. “They will both be tough series, but as long as we keep playing as well as we have been and keep our confidence up (or as we like to say, ‘have swag’), I know we’ll be able to continue our success in the conference. Specifically, we’ll need to keep our bats hot for the Middlebury series, and maintain defensive excellence and mental toughness against Williams.” The senior tri-captain attributes this season’s success to the close bonds the players have forged and to the new arrivals in the coaching staff.

“Along with stellar offensive and defensive performance, the team chemistry this year is the best it has been since I’ve been here and that has allowed us to capitalize on the ups and overcome the downs that we’ve been through together this season,” she said. “Also, we have two great new additions to the coaching staff that all of us have really bought into over the last few months.”

Issue 22, Submitted 2011-04-13 20:02:16