Softball Captures Little Three Title With Sweep of Cardinals
The softball team closed their regular season on a high note this past weekend, against Little Three rival Wesleyan. They clinched the Little Three Title in emphatic fashion, sweeping the Cardinals to clinch the top seed in the NESCAC West Division.
The Mammoths continued their dominance this weekend, bringing out the brooms to clinch both the Little Three title and the top seed in the NESCAC West Division for next weekend’s conference tournament. They did so in style — they won the series’ first game on a walkoff on Friday, April 29, and convincingly took the next two games with relatively little drama the following day.
After their double-header against Keene State College that was originally scheduled for Wednesday, April 27, was canceled, the team returned to the diamond against Wesleyan on Friday with the No. 1 seed in the West Division for the NESCAC playoffs on the line. But despite the high stakes, the Mammoths’ bats went cold — they recorded no hits through the first five innings of the contest. However, stellar pitching from Dani Torres Werra ’25, who recorded eight strikeouts in a complete-game effort, and great team defense prevented the Cardinals from getting on the board until the fifth inning, when they plated two runs to take a 2-0 lead.
With the way that both team’s pitchers were dealing, that lead looked insurmountable. But the Mammoths persevered. Staring down defeat in the bottom of the seventh with Wesleyan’s two-run lead still intact, Amherst’s bats finally came alive. Jess Butler ’23 reached base on a fielding error by the Cardinals’ second baseman and then advanced to second on a single from Werra. After Sadie Pool ’24 hit into a fielder’s choice, Butler was put out at third. With runners on first and second, up stepped sophomore slugger Randi Finklestein ’24. Undaunted by the moment, she launched the second pitch she saw over the fence for a walk-off three-run homer, sending the Mammoths home with a crucial 3-2 comeback victory in game one. The victory was their fifth walk-off win of the year.
But the Mammoths didn’t stop there — even though it took a while for their bats to heat up on Friday, they kept them warm for Saturday’s first contest. Finklestein picked up right where she left off, giving the Mammoths a 1-0 lead in the top of the first with a two-out RBI single that scored Werra from second. They then added two more runs in the second inning on just a single hit — from Audrey Orlowski ’23, who started game two in the circle for the Mammoths — and two Cardinals errors.
It was here when the Mammoths began to pile on. Finklestein scored on a Virginia Ryan ’22 grounder to widen the margin to 4-0 in the third before a RBI double from Werra plated both Butler and America Rangel ’25 to stretch the lead even further. Wesleyan got one back before Pool made it 6-1 with an RBI of her own. The Cardinals plated three more runs shortly after, but the Mammoths sealed the game in the last two frames, plating four more to run the score up to the 10-4 final. Orlwoski earned the win in the circle, moving to 5-2 on the season, and Werra earned her second save of the year.
With the series, the Little Three title, and the West’s top seed now clinched, the Mammoths added insult to injury in game three. With the flair of the other two games behind them, this game was relatively uneventful by comparison. The Mammoths completed the sweep with a 2-0 win. Werra put together another A-plus pitching performance, tossing seven shutout innings with a strikeout and no walks to earn the win. She was backed by a stout Mammoth defense that recorded no errors in the contest, and runs off an Orlowski single in the second and a Wesleyan error that Finkelstein scored on following a triple in the final frame sealed the victory.
Finklestein had the hot hand all weekend, going five for eight from the plate with six RBIs and four extra base hits; she ended game two just a home run away from the cycle. On Monday, Finklestein was named NESCAC Player of the Week for her performance.
The Mammoths, now 21-7 overall and 9-3 in-conference, will begin NESCAC tournament play this weekend. The single-elimination tournament will be held over three days, from Friday, May 6, to Sunday, May 8, at Tufts, the East Division’s top seed. As the top seed in the West, the Mammoths first will face the East’s No. 4 seed, Bowdoin, in a single-elimination game on Friday, May 6. If they down the Polar Bears, they will move on to face the winner of the game between Williams and Trinity on Saturday to compete for a spot in Sunday’s NESCAC Championship. Friday’s quarterfinal game will begin at 5 p.m.