After a busy break competing under a sweltering Florida sun, the softball team returned to campus Sunday and began preparations for Saturday’s first North Coast Athletic Conference game.
The Florida tournament got off to a rocky start as the Yeowomen fought through consecutive losses, including a few dramatic nail-biters. On March 20, Oberlin suffered a close 7–6 loss to St. Lawrence University in its first match of the tournament. The team came up short again later in the day, finishing 9–1 against the University of Southern Maine.
First-year Emma Downing threw six straight innings, keeping St. Lawrence within a one-run margin after the team closed the Yeowomen’s strong three-run lead in the first inning to move into the second 4–3. First-year Izzy Gonzalez-Velarde scored three of the Yeowomen’s runs, while sophomore Sandra Kibble provided critical offensive support to advance her teammates each of her two hits.
Kibble said the Yeowomen’s opening day demonstrated that the squad will not go down without a fight.
“We really proved that we can compete,” Kibble said. “We continued to battle, even when we were down.”
Monday saw two more losses for the Yeowomen, first to the Greenville College Panthers and later to the Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers. Oberlin suffered through a rough morning with a 13–2 loss to the Panthers.
Sophomore Dana Rae Goldstein said the Yeowomen didn’t lack offensive success, just an inability to capitalize on their leads.
“We had some hot bats and solid innings of defense but had trouble coming up with timely hits and hold onto our leads,” Goldstein said.
Day three of the tournament was a dramatic one for Oberlin, as the Yeowomen almost took home their first win of the season. The team’s heartbreaking 12–10 loss to Hamilton College consisted of powerful and sharp play and great hits from the bats of juniors Ariana Enzerink, Grace Evans and Tori Poplaski.
First-year Kat Ladouceur started on the mound for Oberlin and the Yeowomen rotated through two more pitchers during the match. However, this offensive strategy did not help them hold onto its strong early lead.
Head Coach Sara Schoenhoft was pleased with her team’s performance against Hamilton despite the final score.
“Our game against Hamilton was a great team effort,” Schoenhoft said. “Even though we lost, we performed well offensively and on the base paths.”
By Friday, Oberlin still struggled to find its first win of the season, racking up another loss against the University of Scranton Royals 13–6.
Oberlin’s second matchups with St. Lawrence and Southern Maine, netting scores of 7–6 and 8–6 respectively, proved to be much closer contests. A remarkable three-run homerun by junior Grace Evans in the seventh inning against Southern Maine was the highlight of the entire tournament, according to Schoenhoft.
On Saturday morning, Oberlin finally found what it was looking for all week. A combination of solid pitching from first-year Hannah Rasmussen and cohesiveness at bat by first-year Kat Ladouceur and junior and Review production editor Sami Mericle, with the winning run eventually bashed in by Goldstein, all totaled up to win the tight game 4–3.
At the halfway mark of the softball season, Schoenhoft acknowledged that the team stands to face hurdles — including numerous injuries plaguing the small roster — and anticipates more successes as a payoff to the players’ hard work thus far.
“[We’re aiming for] getting to a place as a team where we can play a complete seven innings,” Schoenhoft said.
First-year Izzy Gonzalez-Velarde is confident that the Yeowomen have yet to reach their full potential this season.
“Expect some OCSB wins,” Gonzalez-Velarde said. “We’re playing good softball. We just need to put the pieces together.”
Oberlin softball is back in action tomorrow when it takes on rival Kenyon College in the first NCAC matchup of the season.