Panthers, Lynx Scratch Yeowomen
The Yeowomen stepped up to the plate for the first time this season when they headed south to Memphis, TN, for their opening tournament this weekend. With a new coaching staff, five first-years and high expectations for their season, the Yeowomen brought home some impressive performances, if not wins.
Oberlin came out of last weekend with four losses after battling it out with Greenville College 10–5 and Rhodes College 12–4 on Saturday, then taking on Rhodes College again in a double-header on Sunday, losing 7–6 and 6–2.
Head Coach Sara Schoenhoft, a former player and assistant coach at rival Kenyon College, joined the Yeowomen for the 2016 season after the departure of former Head Coach Mimi Mahon. With help from new Assistant Coach Alicia Ashburn, Coach Schoenhoft has already proven herself fit for the task of revitalizing the Oberlin softball program.
On Saturday morning, the Yeowomen started strong in their game against the Greenville College Panthers, due in large part to a powerful RBI single driven in by first-year Kat Ladouceur. Ladouceur continued to make things difficult for the Panthers, later tying up the game 4–4 with a three-run home run blasted over the fence.
Unfortunately, this power surge couldn’t stand up to Greenville’s offense, as Oberlin would only earn one more run to the Panthers’ six. Their opponents brought two players home in the fourth inning, three in the fifth inning and another in the sixth inning to end the contest 10–5.
Although the Yeowomen didn’t manage to change their fortunes against Rhodes College, Ladouceur and sophomore third-baseman Dana Rae Goldstein still delivered solid performances in the afternoon. One memorable play came when Ladouceur drove a pitch to the left side of the infield, which led to a Lynx throwing error to bring in her two teammates, first-year pitcher Emma Downing and first-year shortstop Izzy Gonzales-Velarde, in the top of the first inning. Later, Goldstein drove in her second RBI of the tournament against the Lynx to cap off Oberlin’s scoring for the day.
On Sunday, junior pitcher and Review production editor Sami Mericle started off the morning in Oberlin’s second face-off against the Lynx and held her own for five solid innings, while the Yeowomen got an early lead with help from Ladouceur, Goldstein and Gonzales-Velarde.
Sophomore Sandra Kibble also rescued the team from a two-out, high-pressure situation with a flying two-run double to tie the game at 6–6. Goldstein said this late-game surge convinced her that the team would have a resilient season.
“Touching home and turning around to see Kibble at second base solidified to me that we’re going to be a team that doesn’t go down without a fight,” Goldstein said.
The Yeowomen, however, couldn’t hold onto the lead and finished the game with a 7–6 loss. First-year Emma Downing took the mound for the latter half of the Sunday doubleheader and threw six strong innings.
The fourth game of the weekend also featured another clutch RBI by Kibble, but the early spark wasn’t quite enough for the win, and the Lynx took the fourth game 6–2.
Goldstein said that the team’s development and progress over the weekend would prove to be more significant than the Yeowomen’s resulting record for the tournament.
“Although the scores don’t reflect it, this was a really positive weekend for our team,” Goldstein said. “This is a team that’s hungry to win, so all of the pieces will come together soon.”
The Tennessee weekend was a great way for the Yeowomen, who have spent the cold Ohio offseason practicing in small indoor facilities, to play in warm weather on full-scale outdoor fields.
“Practicing inside the field house makes it hard to simulate full-field game-like situations,” Coach Schoenhoft said. “So to get to play outdoors all weekend and see a lot of the things we worked on in practice come to life was really great for us.”
In addition to the rising temperature and upcoming competition, Schoenhoft said there’s more to be optimistic about. The Yeowomen are a young group without a single senior, which means the team’s progress will last for years.
“At one point during the game, I looked up and saw a freshman at first, a freshman at second and a sophomore at third,” Schoenhoft recalled. “We have so much room to keep getting better and reaching our own potential.”
The softball team has nearly two weeks of practice before facing its next competition on March 9 against Ursuline College in Pepper Pike, Ohio.
Soon after that, the Yeowomen will take their annual spring break trip to Florida to play 12 games over a week against teams from all across the country. Schoenhoft is looking forward to this trip, as it will broaden the Yeowomen’s frame of reference for their team’s progress.
“[It will be a] good measurement of how [we] stack up against teams across the country, not just within the NCAC,” she said.