Softball compiles 14-2 Ivy League record with four games left
Dartmouth softball (26-12, 14-2 Ivy) was handed its first loss in Ivy League play this past weekend in the second game of a double header against Yale University (15-28-1, 7-9 Ivy). The humbling moment halted the team’s seemingly unstoppable momentum that remains a testament to the dangerous offense and unhittable pitching the team displayed this month.
Both players and coaches handled the seemingly devastating Ivy League losses, the second coming on Sunday against Yale, with elegance and took it as a sign to work even harder as the season winds down. Despite all odds pointing to a third straight Ivy League Championship for the Big Green, head coach Shannon Doepking continues to remind her players of the importance of taking nothing for granted.
“We have a great team and we play fundamental softball,” Doepking said. “We swing at strikes, we make routine plays, and we’re a very tough team to beat, and as you saw this weekend, when we get away from doing some of those little things, we’re also a team that can get beat every single day.”
Despite dropping two losses in a row, the last of which was a shutout, Dartmouth is hitting a collective .343 in conference play. The most prolific hitter of the team has been Katie McEachern ’16 who holds an impressive .480 batting average in 50 Ivy at bats. She has hit five out of the team’s 14 League home runs helping her achieve a .880 slugging percentage and 18 RBIs.
McEachern is not too far from emulating the impressive performance that earned her the 2015 Ivy League Player of the Year, as she continues to prove that she is the most lethal offensive player the College has ever seen. After hitting only a single in five at bats in the two losses against the Bulldogs, McEachern expressed the importance of the lessons that a streak-ending loss entails.
“Our first loss [was something] we needed,” McEachern said. “It was definitely humbling and that was definitely what our coach said when it happened. We needed that kick in our butts to force us to continue to get better and push ourselves and not just be satisfied being the best in the Ivy League. We want to be the best players we can be.”
After the departure of ace Kristen Rumley ’15 from the team’s rotation, Morgan McCalmon ’16 and Breanna Ethridge ’18 masterfully transitioned as the new one-two punch for the team and have carried much of the workload. After pitching a gem in the second game of Sunday’s double header, Ethridge maintains a 1.94 ERA in 75.2 innings pitched and has an overall opponents’ batting average of a mere .211. McCalmon is just as unhittable with an overall ERA of 2.21 in 117.1 innings, striking out 102 batters and pitching 10 complete games. Both pitchers combined have a 25-8 record.
“Breanna has been huge for us,” McCalmon said. “She has really stepped up and is tough to beat. She has just been amazing, and I wouldn’t want to pitch next to anyone else. We work off each other and we’re always there for each other in the dugout and [on the mound].”
A clear disparity is revealed when the Big Green’s performance is compared to that of its opponents. The pitching staff holds a collective 2.65 ERA and 199 punch-outs while the offense has scarred opposing pitching with a 4.29 ERA and has scored 60 percent more earned runs. A clear, symbiotic relationship exists between the two workforces of the team, to which McCalmon accredits much of her success.
“Our hitters have carried me and Breanna all season and they’ve been the reason why we’ve both been so successful,” McCalmon said. “They’re there to pick me up when I’m not doing my best and we’re going to be there to pick them up [when they aren’t doing their best].”
Dartmouth will carry this momentum to Cambridge, Massachusetts to face the final and likely toughest opponent of the season, Harvard University (25-14, 13-3 Ivy), with hopes of blemishing their flawless 10-0 record at home and breaking their current six game winning streak. In preparation for the Crimson and the likely Ivy League Championship, Doepking hopes to get back to the fundamentals of softball.
“We’re just going to get back to the basics,” she said. “We have to be a lot more disciplined at the plate and we need to be aggressive on the strikes. Offensively, we are a great softball team, and we have a lot of weapons when we stick to our approach which is swinging at pitches we know we can handle.”
Doepking is looking forward to the game against Harvard.
“Harvard always has a great series with us. They’re a great team and they’ve got a lot of weapons and they’re playing great softball right now so it’s going to be important for us to start working out the kinks that we need to work out.”
The team will play the first game of the doubleheader at 2 p.m. this Saturday and will finish the season at home the following day.