Softball splits doubleheader vs. UMass Amherst
In the team’s first games since shutdown, Dartmouth softball defeated the University of Massachusetts Amherst 6-2 in Game 1 before falling 15-13 in Game 2.
As part of the Big Green’s first weekend of sports since the COVID-19 shutdown, the softball team returned to play on Saturday, facing the University of Massachusetts Amherst in a doubleheader. In the first game, behind an excellent performance from pitcher Madie Augusto ’22, the Big Green started its season with a 6-2 win. In Game 2, despite holding an 8-0 lead after four innings, Dartmouth went on to lose in a 15-13 thriller.
Head coach Jen Williams emphasized how great it was for the team to get back to competing after a tough year.
“It was fantastic to be back out on the field,” Williams said. “To finally have that happen for us in the spring after such an abrupt ending over a year ago was really rewarding, and I was really so happy for the team that they were able to get back out there and get some competition in.”
Team captain Abby Shipley ’21 said she was just happy to be able to compete for Dartmouth again.
“Everybody just had so much fun putting on the uniform and representing Dartmouth for the first time in a while,” she said.
With COVID-19 protocols, the team has only been able to practice in a very limited fashion. Shipley said that the team was allowed to ramp up their practices starting on April 14, giving the team just 10 days to prepare for live competition.
Despite the lack of practice time, Shipley said that the prospect of returning to competition motivated the team throughout the past year to stay ready — and their hard work paid off on Saturday.
“What really got the whole team through was just remembering that there was going to be a light at the end of the tunnel,” Shipley said. “Just wanting to be prepared to the best of our ability so that when we got the chance to go out and compete, we were ready no matter what.”
Both Williams and Shipley pointed to the team’s risks taken on the basepaths and frequent swings on first pitches as examples of the team’s aggressiveness during the doubleheader. Williams said this mindset was both the result of the team taking advantage of limited competitive opportunities and of a new approach that assistant coach Tim Homan is emphasizing, which focuses on “hunting” for one’s pitch.
This new offensive game plan paid off as the team notched 13 hits in their first game, adding another 17 hits and 13 runs in the second game. The freshmen were particularly essential for the Big Green’s offense: Kelly Boupre ’24, Mary Beth Cahalan ’24 and Izzy Kam ’24 combined for 15 of the team’s 30 hits.
Cahalan said the team did a great job executing their aggressive gameplan, taking advantage of early pitches to hit.
“Every single one of us came in with that [aggressive] mentality this game knowing that the UMass pitchers were going to give us something really good to hit early in the count,” Cahalan said. “We came in knowing what we wanted to do and how we wanted to attack offensively, and everyone really executed that well.”
While the Big Green had a strong offensive showing, Dartmouth’s pitching also had its moments. In the first game, Augusto threw six scoreless innings before giving up two runs in the seventh, while notching a career-high 10 strikeouts. In the second, Brooke Plonka ’22 followed Augusto’s stellar performance with four scoreless innings before UMass rallied late in the game.
Williams said that the games were really important for the team to see that their hard work is paying off. She added that the layoff gave them the opportunity to develop the team’s culture. Williams feels that their bond will allow them to compete with anyone.
“Every day that we work, we’re going to focus on our process [and] our character,” Williams said. “Then we were able to go out and see how that stacked up yesterday, and I think it was really important for the team to see that when we do that — when we focus on our game, our character, our process — we can go out and bring it with anybody.”
Shipley added that she was really happy to see how the team has faced adversity this past year, and believes it bodes well for the future of the program.
“I’m just extra grateful for how well the team has continued to fight through this terrible last year, and … take it as an opportunity to better the team and challenge each other,” Shipley said. “I’m really excited to see where [Dartmouth softball] goes in the next couple of years.”