Building off a successful week, the softball team continued their hot start to the season, opening NESCAC play with a two-games-to-one series win against Middlebury on Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2. They then played local rival Smith on Tuesday, April 5, but unfortunately lost 5-2 to the Pioneers.
Last week, the Mammoths picked up two wins against WPI in dramatic fashion, winning on back-to-back walk offs. Their flair for the dramatics was present once again in their first game against Middlebury.
The Mammoths jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third inning, but the Panthers tied the score with a three-run homer in the sixth inning and pulled ahead in the seventh with an RBI double. Down to their final three outs, the Mammoths evened the score after Autumn Lee ’23 singled home Megan Taketa ’23, who led the inning off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Rachel Lovejoy ’23. With the score knotted at four apiece, the teams entered extra innings.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Panthers managed to get runners on the corners with two outs in a prime chance to take the lead, but Audrey Orlowski ’23, who came on in relief in the seventh inning, got the final out via a lineout to left field. It was then the Mammoths’ turn to mirror the Panthers by putting runners on first and third with two outs in the frame, but with the speedy Taketa at the plate, the Mammoths produced a much different result. Taketa drove a ball to shortstop and beat the throw by half a step, scoring the runner from third and securing the Mammoths’ sixth consecutive victory.
America Rangel ’25 got the start and was dominant from the circle for most of the contest. She tallied eight strikeouts through six innings pitched and did not allow a hit until the sixth inning. Orlowski, who pitched the final two innings in relief, recorded her third win of the season.
Game two was a back-and-forth affair that saw numerous Mammoth comebacks and once again went into extra innings, but the Mammoths fell 8-7 in the ninth inning. After going down four runs in the first inning, they tied the score 5-5 in the fifth inning. The Panthers seemed to have the game in hand after scoring two runs in the eighth inning, but solo home runs from Lovejoy and Dani Torres Werra ’25 evened the score once again. However, the Panthers added another run in the ninth and the Mammoths stranded the tying run at third in their half of the inning. Talia Bloxham ’22, who came on in relief and pitched 5.1 innings, was pegged with the loss, bringing her record to 3-2.
The final game of the series was a dominant showing from the Mammoths, needing only five innings to defeat the Panthers 8-0 due to the eight-run mercy rule. The Mammoths went up 3-0 in the first inning, added two more runs in the second, and brought their total to eight in the third by adding three more. Werra got the start for the Mammoths and controlled the Panthers all game, pitching the full five innings and allowing just two hits and picking up three strikeouts on the way. The win brings her early season record to an impressive 4-0.
Their game against Smith on Tuesday, April 5, by contrast, was a defensive battle, with the Pioneers holding a 1-0 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth. This is where the Mammoths made their breakthrough, with Taketa singling in the leadoff position before stealing second. A sacrifice bunt by Lovejoy got Taketa to third, and Lee brought her home with an RBI single to tie the game at one-apiece. Neither team scored in the final frame, and the game moved to extra innings; but this time, the Mammoths could not finish the job. They gave up four runs in the top of the eighth inning to a Pioneers squad that found its groove late in the contest, and only managed one of their own in their response to make the final score 5-2 in favor of Smith.
Taketa was awarded NESCAC player of the week honors for her remarkable performance in the Middlebury series. She went six-for-nine in the series with a .769 on-base percentage, scoring seven runs and adding two RBIs, including a walk-off single, and made some sensational plays in the outfield, including a diving catch to save a crucial run in game one. On the season, Taketa boasts a .389 batting average and has been a perfect seven-for-seven on stolen base attempts.
With a record of 10-4 on the year, the Mammoths will travel to Clinton, New York, to play a three-game series against Hamilton, with the first game occurring on Friday, April 8, and a doubleheader to follow on Saturday, April 9.