Softball Starts the Season Strong in Florida

Though many had predicted a tough opening day for the Jeffs, the team breezed through both of their games, including the first one against a Salem State team that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last year, on the back of a pair of outstanding sophomore performances.

Theresa Kelley ’13 stepped up to the plate and was on track for a no-hitter until the seventh inning, when she gave up a leadoff double that would eventually lead to a Viking score. The sophomore would not be fazed though, maintaining her composure to strike out the final two batters of the game, clinching the 2-1 victory for the Jeffs.

A few hours later, it was Kelley’s classmate Christina Anderson ’13’s time to shine, hitting a crucial two-run double in the bottom of the sixth to put the Jeffs on top 4-3. Solid defense and a sparkling pitching debut from Arielle Doering ’14, who struck out nine and allowed only one run on four hits in five innings, carried the Jeffs through to victory.

The Jeffs continued their winning streak the next morning, cranking out a 9-3 victory over Stevens Institute of Technology thanks to steady pitching by Kelley, who struck out six and allowed only four hits over five innings. First-year Carolyn Miller ’14 led the scoring bonanza, going two for four with a solo home run and three RBIs, while Annemarie Iker ’12 put three more on the board. Doering turned her pitching prowess into offensive gold, going two for three with an RBI.

The team suffered its first loss later that day, however, falling 6-2 to The College of Wooster, and were unable to bounce back the next morning against Delaware Valley College, who claimed a 4-1 victory. Kelley held a 1-0 lead up to the sixth inning, when Delaware Valley tied the game with a double, a sacrifice bunt and a single, before pulling away with three unearned runs.

When the Jeffs returned to winning ways, however, they did it with great gusto, defeating Lassell 11-2, with standout performances from Kelley, Anderson and Jillian Masi ’11. The next day, they again split their doubleheader, earning a 3-1 win against Worcester State before falling to North Park, 9-0. Kelley again starred in the win, as the Jeffs managed only three hits the entire game, relying on her stellar pitching to carry them through. She allowed only one run on three hits, striking out 11 batters and walking one.

Despite six hits, the Jeffs could not get their momentum going against North Park, and could not turn the game around after surrendering a three-run homer in the first. Another three runs in the second only made matters worse, and North Park cruised to a win in just five innings.

The doubleheader win-loss streak continued on the last day of action, with a 3-1 Jeff victory over Edgewood College followed by a 8-4 defeat at the hands of St. Joseph’s. Doering started the game, allowing only two hits in the final six innings and finishing with seven strikeouts. Offensively, Miller hit a single that put both Kelley and Masi through to home base, while Doering added the team’s third run on a hit by Anderson. The Jeffs went home on the back of a loss, however, after a defensive breakdown let St. Joseph’s score five unearned runs in the third inning.

One of the highlights of the Jeffs’ tournament was seeing the underclassmen shine. The team graduated three important players last year, but before the tournament, senior tri-captain Samantha Presnal hoped that the other players would “step up and contribute on the field,” a prediction that came true. Iker echoed her sentiments, and saw the tournament as a good start and a sign of better things to come.

“We were happy to go six and four — not a bad outing for our first time playing together as a team, not to mention our first time on dirt since the fall,” she said.

“We had good outcomes against our Northeast competition, which looks promising for our upcoming games. When we struggled, it had to do with situations we need to practice outside on the field, and first-games-of-the-season jitters. We’re all feeling confident and looking forward to this week’s competition!” The Jeffs will travel to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Western New England College and Trinity for games in the upcoming week.