After a year without league play due to Covid-19 and the subsequent suspension of NESCAC sports, Amherst’s baseball and softball teams concluded their season-opening weekends with strong performances.
Both the baseball and softball teams faced Wesleyan University in three game sets over the weekend. On Saturday, April 3, both teams played doubleheaders, as softball hosted on campus and baseball traveled to Middleton, Conn.
In the first game of baseball’s doubleheader, Tyler Marshall ’21 kickstarted the offense, hitting a double to left field. Aidan Park ’22 followed with a single to deep center to send Marshall home.
The Mammoths continued this momentum throughout the first game, with strong plays by Joseph Palmo ’21 and Daniel Qin ’22 advancing the team’s lead to 4-0. Nick Giattino ’24 struck out two of the final six Wesleyan hitters while Sachin Nambiar ’22 recorded the win, allowing only three hits and striking out four over a magnificent five shutout innings.
The Cardinals rebounded in game two, leading 7-0 after the first two innings. Anchored by a strong relief performance from Jacob Ribitzky ’24, the Mammoths bounced back and narrowed Wesleyan’s lead to 7-5, with a home run from Qin bringing the team within one run in the sixth. This effort came up short, however, as the Cardinals ended the day with a 7-6 victory.
On Sunday, Amherst baseball hosted the Cardinals at Memorial Field to take the series. The Mammoths surged ahead with a 6-4 lead heading into the seventh and — though the Cardinals briefly evened the score — only widened the gap over time. Qin secured his second home run of the weekend and a string of errors by the Cardinals only hindered their damage control efforts. The Mammoths’ 12-7 victory secured the series win against Wesleyan.
The softball team enjoyed similar success this weekend. In their first game, the Mammoths jumped out to an early lead after scoring three runs in the first inning. On the mound, Talia Bloxham ’22 was remarkable, allowing only one hit in a complete game shutout. Both Sadie Pool ’24 and Autumn Lee ’23 strung together multi-hit games, leading Amherst to an 8-0 victory.
On the back end of the doubleheader, the Mammoths were equally as dominant. First-year pitcher Maddie Procyk also threw a game shutout, allowing only two hits. Again, Pool had multiple hits, capped off by a three-run, base-clearing triple in the 5th inning. The Mammoths went on to win again, 8-0.
On Sunday, Amherst scored at least one run in five of the seven innings and led the Cardinals 8-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh. Megan Taketa ’23 was the first to score, with Amherst adding two more in the second inning and leading 5-1 in the fourth.
Approaching their final at-bats and down by seven, Wesleyan made a late game charge — only for Bloxham to shut down the attempt. The Mammoths finished the series with a total of 23 runs while yielding only the five scored in the third game.
The past year has been a difficult one for players, as sports cancellations and often ambiguous NESCAC updates have only magnified uncertainty around the spring season. Now back in play, the baseball and softball teams have proven their strength on the field and will make for exciting viewing as the season progresses.