Cards Stand One Win Shy of NESCAC Title & NCAA Berth after Defeating Bowdoin, 12-6, in NESCACs

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For the second straight year, the Cardinals made short work of their opening NESCAC tournament game as Wesleyan unleashed a 15-hit attack and jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the top of the 1st en route to a 13-3 rout of Tufts in a five-inning game played at Williams Fri., May 7. Wesleyan then took on Bowdoin, an 8-1 victor over the host, in the winner's bracket game Sat., May 8, and pounded out a 12-6 triumph that put the Cardinals on the precipice of a first-ever NESCAC title and automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

With the win over Bowdoin, the team's fifth in a row against the Polar Bears, Wesleyan posted its 22nd victory of the year, a school record. Wesleyan had six players enjoy a multiple-hit game, paced by Allee Beatty '13, who went 4-for-4 while batting ninth in the lineup. Down 3-0 before they came to bat, the Cardinals grabbed the lead for good in the bottom of the 1st with a four-run rally, then erupted for six runs in the 2nd. In total, Wesleyan cracked 16 hits in the contest. Sam Epstein '12 became the third Cardinal this year to hit five homers as she had the game-winning hit in the 1st, a three-run shot to cap the inning.

The Cardinals combined six hits with two Polar Bear errors to chase home six runs in the 2nd for a 10-3 edge. Bowdoin got as close as 10-6 in the top of the 3rd, chasing starter Caitlyn Grudzinski '13 from the mound, but Dana Levy '12 came in to shut the door, allowing just two hits and no runs over the final five innings. Wesleyan added a pair in the 4th, one coming on a Taylor Zavadsky '10 (#3, photo insert upper left) solo home run.

Last year at Tufts, Wesleyan defeated Bates, 12-4 in a game that lasted just five innings. In that game, the Cardinals finished the game with a six-run flurry in the bottom of the 5th to convert a 6-4 lead into a game-ending margin. Against Tufts this year, the Cardinals opened the game by batting around in the 1st, collecting five hits for their 6-0 cushion. Alex Kral '12 (#23, photo insert lower right) capped the rally with a three-run blast for her fifth homer of the year, equaling the seasonal school record. Zavadsky and Tori Redding '13 (#14, photo insert lower left) also drove in a run in the frame. Along with Meaghan Dendy '10 (#7, photo insert upper right), who tossed a six-hit, complete-game victory, Kral, Redding and Zavadsky combined to go a collective 12-for-16 (.750) with all 10 Cardinal RBI. Dendy was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate to lead the way.

Though Tufts narrowed the gap to 6-3 in the bottom of the 1st, Wesleyan tacked on six more runs in the 3rd, this time sending 11 players to bat with three hits and four uncharacteristic errors by the Jumbos. Kral started the rally with an RBI single, followed by a Dendy RBI single and a Redding two-run hit. Two other runs scored on Tufts miscues.

After giving up four hits and three runs in the opening stanza, Dendy settled down to allow just two hits and no runs over the final four frames. She also chalked up a season-high nine strikeouts despite the short length of the contest. That tied her career best, done three times in the past.

Wesleyan's victory over Tufts ended a three-game losing streak vs. the Jumbos in NESCAC tournament play, including the title game each of the last two years. It was just the fifth Cardinal win in 18 all-time meetings.

Wesleyan, as the 2-0 squad, will take on the survivor of the Williams vs. Bowdoin rematch in the last elimination game before the championship tilt Sun., May 9. A Wesleyan win will end the tournament and give the Cardinals the crown. Should Wesleyan lose, the same two teams will play a second contest with the winner taking the crown.

(photos courtesy of Ron Bernstein P'11)