Wesleyan ended a five-game losing streak vs. its NESCAC West/Little Three rival Amherst with a 5-2 softball victory Fri., April 19 in the first game of a three-game conference series between the squads. Wesleyan and Amherst completed their series with a double-header in Amherst, Mass. Sat., April 20. The Lord Jeffs won the opener, 7-5, before Wesleyan rolled to an 8-0, five-inning triumph in the nightcap. Winning two of three, combined with their two wins over Williams, the Cardinals secured the Little Three title, their second ever and first since 2008. Wesleyan also tied the school record for wins in a season with 24 and kept pace with Middlebury for the NESCAC West title, both with 7-2 records. Wesleyan ended the regular season with a three-game home series against the Panthers starting Fri., April 26. In the opener between Wesleyan and Middlebury, the Cardinals recovered from a 4-0 deficit to seize a 7-4 lead in the bottom of the 5th, but a four-run Panther outburst in the 6th gave Middlebury an 8-7 win. The teams finished the series in a double-header Saturday. Middlebury swept by scores of 10-2 in five innings and 1-0 in 11 innings. Despite the setbacks, Wesleyan earned the second seed in the NESCAC West and will compete in the upcoming NESCAC tournament to be hosted by Tufts Fri.-Sun., May 3-5.
Though Amherst jumped ahead 1-0 in the top of the 1st of the tilt April 19, Wesleyan responded with three runs in the bottom of the 1st to take the lead for good. Jill Gately '15 hit an hard double to left-center to bring in two runs as she tied the program mark for RBI in a season with 40. It was her 13th double of the year. Gately later scored on a throwing error to make it 3-1.
Single runs by Wesleyan in the 2nd and 3rd upped the margin to 5-1. A single up the middle by Allee Beatty '13, who had two hits in the game, brought in the fourth Cardinal run and a triple by Amanda Roosa '16 to right field and RBI grounder by Amy Lindland '14 supplied Wesleyan with its final run.
Amherst got its only earned run of the game off Wesleyan pitcher Su Pardo '16, who allowed just five hits and had eight strikeouts, in the 5th inning. Pardo then outdid herself in the second game of the double-header Saturday by holding the Lord Jeffs to a lone single, that coming in the 3rd inning. Otherwise, she retired 15 of the 17 batters she faced with five strikeouts. She now has 125 Ks in 88 innings of work this year with a 12-0 record and 1.91 ERA. Gately hit her sixth homer of the year, a two-run shot in the 1st to begin the scoring. She added an RBI double in the 3rd and was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the 4th for an RBI, bringing her season figure to a school record 44. Gately, Beatty, Tori Redding '13 and Lindland all scored twice in the contest with Beatty and Lindland joining Gately with two hits.
In the first game of the twin-bill, Wesleyan fell behind, 5-0, in the 2nd inning and never got closer than two runs to the end. Gately again had two hits and two runs while Redding had a pair of RBI. Beatty, with a run scored, now has 49 on the season, two shy of the school record.
Against Middlebury Friday, Beatty was one of three Cardinals to get a run and an RBI during the seven-run 5th inning as the Cardinals combined four hits with three Panthers errors to take the lead after Middlebury broke the ice in the 4th for a 1-0 lead and tacked on three more in the 5th. Redding and Ashley McLaren '13 also scored and had RBIs in the 5th. The deciding blow in the game was a three-run Panther homer in the 6th and Wesleyan failed to get a runner on base in the final two innings. Pardo allowed 10 hits and only two earned runs with six strikeouts as was perfect through three innings. She did suffer her first loss of the season.
In the Middlebury double-header, Wesleyan got an RBI double from Redding and an run-scoring triple from Alex Sarkowsky '14 to make up a 2-0 difference, but Middlebruy erupted for eight runs in the top of the 5th to invoked the mercy rule when Wesleyan failed to score in the bottom of the frame. The nightcap was a scoreless draw through 10 innings as Pardo held the Panthers to six hits. But an infield error and a walk put runenrs at first and second for the Panthers in the top of the 11th, and a single down the third-base line brough home the game's lone unearned run.
Wesleyan will face Tufts in a first-round NESCAC playoff game Fri., May 3 while Middlebury and Bowdoin play in the other opening-day contest. Losers and winners meet on Saturday with the first-game loser eliminated. A third game on Saturday will be another elimination game. The championship will be decided on Sunday.