Softball wins one, loses two on season-opening road trip

by Taylor Malmsheimer | 3/5/12 11:00pm

by Maggie Rowland and Maggie Rowland / The Dartmouth

Led by the superb pitching of Hillary Barker '12, the Big Green (1-2) secured a resounding win in its first game of the season over Saint Peter's (0-6). Barker pitched a complete game, giving up only four hits and one run to the Peahens.

"She pitched really well," head coach Rachel Hanson said. "She went the full seven innings, which is an improvement from last year. Our pitchers have really worked on their conditioning and are a lot better. It's great to have a senior step up from the start like that."

From the outset, the game seemed to be a defensive duel, but Dartmouth found its offense in the top of the second inning. Morgan Wharton '13 singled to center field and stole second. Kara Curosh '14 followed with a sharp single, and Wharton sprinted for home before being gunned down by the Saint Peter's leftfielder for the out.

Not to be deterred, the Big Green continued their offensive pressure in the third inning and scored three runs on two hits. Noelle Ramirez '13 doubled to bring Meghan Everett '12 home for the first run of the season. Barker then singled up the middle and Ramirez and Hillary Hubert '13 scored on an error by the Saint Peter's centerfielder.

Saint Peter's scored its sole run in the bottom of the third inning, but Dartmouth could not be contained and exploded for three more runs in the fifth. The Big Green had a solid day offensively, led by Curosh, who went 3-for-3 at the plate. Ramirez and Hubert were both 2-for-3 and scored two runs each.

Even though the team has been unable to practice outside, players said they felt prepared after many weeks in Leverone Field House. Their long hours of hard work paid off in their first game on the dirt.

"I don't think it was that much of an adjustment," Barker said. "In Leverone, it's pretty realistic. We were just so excited to be outside."

In its second game of the day, Dartmouth proved that it would not go down without a fight, falling just short in a late-game comeback against host Coastal Carolina (12-4). The Chanticleers used a big three-run first inning to take control of the game early on their way to a 4-2 win.

After surrendering three runs in the first, Dartmouth settled down, and neither team scored again until the fifth inning. Coastal Carolina added a run to make the score 4-0 in the top of the frame before the Big Green responded with a run of its own at the bottom of the inning. Wharton led off with a single and stole second base. She advanced to third on a single by Curosh and scored on an RBI single by Everett.

Down by three in the bottom of the seventh, the Big Green remained positive and showed their determination in late game situations. Kat Hicks '12 and Katie Adams '13 started off the inning with walks, and pinch-runner Jonele Conceicao '14 scored on an error by Coastal Carolina's shortstop. Captain Molly Khalil '12 kept the Big Green's hopes alive with a single, but Dartmouth ran out of steam and ended the game on a ground out.

"We never got down on ourselves," Barker said. "We always had the idea we could come back. What was neat about it is that it wasn't like we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. It was more like, Hey, we can do this.' It was cool to be able to come back at the end."

In her first game of the season, Big Green pitcher Kristen Rumley '15 pitched all seven innings for a complete game. She gave up eight hits and four runs but struck out nine Coastal Carolina batters in a promising debut.

On Saturday, Dartmouth was slated to take on Coastal Carolina for a rematch in the morning before playing the University of Nebraska-Omaha (4-6) that afternoon. Due to inclement whether, however, the games were rained out. The Big Green played its final game on Sunday morning against the University of Nebraska-Omaha, losing 5-0 to the Mavericks.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the second, when the Mavericks loaded the bases on a hit batter and two walks. It looked as though the Big Green would escape unscathed, getting two outs with a strikeout and throw out at home by third baseman Ramirez. Nebraska senior Katelyn Hinton, however, came up big, smashing a three-RBI double to put Nebraska up, 3-0.

In the fourth inning, the Mavericks added two more runs on a series of walks, stolen bases and passed balls to push the score to 5-0. Barker and Rumley each pitched in the game, as did Rachel Hein '15 in her first appearance of the season.

Dartmouth is off this weekend before travelling to Clearwater, Fla. to compete in the University of South Florida Invitational on March 16. The Big Green is at a slight disadvantage travelling south early in the season, as it has not had as many opportunities to play outside compared to southern teams. In its first games of the season, however, Dartmouth showed promise and determination.

"[Teams from the south] have seen more live game experience," Hanson said. "But we were able to practice all the fundamentals, and I think we did well overall."

Barker said the team would continue to practice indoors in Hanover before heading back south.

"In general, it was a good weekend," Barker said. "We're much further than we were at this point last season, but we also have little small things to work on. Now we're going to have a good week of practice before Florida."

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