Cards Clinch NESCAC West Crown for 2nd Year in a Row, Also Share Little Three Title
After putting themselves one win shy of locking up a NESCAC playoff spot for the third consecutive season by taking a 2-0 decision at Hamilton in the first game of a three-game NESCAC West series, the Cardinals left no doubt who was top dog by locking up the title with a 10-1, 8-4 sweep of a double-header at Hamilton Sat., April 25.
With the wins, Wesleyan improved to 9-3 in conference play and when Williams took a pair from Amherst Saturday, the Cardinals had the divisional title as Williams finished 8-4 and Amherst 7-5 in the division. All three teams went 3-3 in Little Three play to produce a three-way tie. Each team defeated the other at least once this season.
At Hamilton Saturday, Talia Bernstein '11 (#9, main photo) was virtually unstoppable as she went 7-for-8 at the plate and drove in at least one run with six of her seven hits to total nine RBI on the day. She upped her team-leading batting average to .454 with the effort. As a result, Bernstein was honored by the NESCAC as its Player of the Week and by the New England Intercollegiate Softball Coaches Association (NEISCA) as its Co-Player of the Week.
On the mound, Chelsea Swete '11 (#6, photo insert upper right) tossed a six-hitter in the opening game as Wesleyan led 10-0 heading into the bottom of the 5th. Though Hamilton broke up Swete's shutout bid, the Cardinals closed out the victory in five innings. Bernstein had RBIs in the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th innings. Meaghan Dendy '10 (#7, photo insert lower left) had a pair of hits and scored three runs from her leadoff spot.
In the nightcap, Wesleyan trailed 2-0 early but took the lead for good in the 3rd on Chrissy Bello's '12 two-run single. The Cardinals tacked on two more in the 4th for a 5-2 lead as Bernstein did the honors with a two-run single. After the Continentals cut the gap to 5-3 in the 5th, Wesleyan again put up a pair in the 6th for a 7-3 margin, again courtesy of Bernstein. Dendy picked up her second pitching victory of the series, yielding nine hits and four earned runs. She also went 4-for-5 at the plate with three runs and an RBI. Molly O'Connell '09 enjoyed a three-hit game and scored three times as well.
As the top seed in the NESCAC West, Wesleyan will play NESCAC East runner-up Bates in a first-round contest Fri., May 1 while tournament host Tufts plays Williams. The double-elimination tournament continues on Sat., May 2 and Sun., May 3.
Before that, however, Wesleyan played at home vs. Trinity Mon., April 27 and came away a 4-1 victor as Dendy threw a one-hitter while the one Trinity run was unearned. Three of Wesleyan four runs were unearned as well, two of those scored by Dendy herself. Wesleyan's earned run came on a double by Sam Epstein '12 to score Bello, who had singled, in the 2nd inning. Bernstein also had a hit in the game and her pinch-runner, Lily Thalheimer '11, scored on a Trinity mistake.
Wesleyan's final regular-season game was at Coast Guard Tues., April 28. and the 35-4-1 Bears held Wesleyan to two hits for a 9-1, 6-inning win. Dendy scored the lone Cardinal run, knocked in by Bernstein in the 1st.
Now it's off to Tufts for the NESCACs. All of the games during the tournament will be webcast by the JumboCast network. There is a link located on the Wesleyan athletics home page under "Webcasts."
(all photos by Ron Bernstein P'11)