Big Green softball kicks off regular season during spring break
The team had just one win during the trip as they competed against multiple out-of-conference schools.
Softball coach Jen Williams has adjusted her recruiting tactics due to the NCAA's restriction on in-person recruiting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Over spring break, Dartmouth’s softball team headed south for its season opener with a doubleheader at Georgia State University on March 17. After losing 9-0 and then 6-0 in the two games, the Big Green competed in the University of Georgia Classic on March 19 and 20. On the first day, Dartmouth fell to No. 16 Georgia 11-2 and to Mercer University 10-2. The following day, Dartmouth suffered another loss to the University of Illinois 9-1 but got revenge on Mercer, winning the second game of the weekend against the team 5-0.
The season opener at Georgia State marked the beginning of the first full season in three years for the Big Green, as the COVID-19 pandemic interrupted the past two seasons. In the first of the two games against Georgia State, utility player Kelly Beaupre ’24, outfielder Maddie Katona ’23, first baseman Kira La Scola ’22 and infielder Billie McFadyen ’22 each got a hit. In the second game, pitchers Megan Hagge ’25 and Rachel McCarroll ’25 both pitched for three innings, earning a combined three strikeouts for Dartmouth.
“The team is competing with three classes who have not yet had a full Ivy League softball season,” infielder Kate Farren ’23 said. “We can’t go into the season expecting to be perfect. However, we expect our return to playing after the two-year hiatus to be big.”
On the morning of March 19, the team started the UGA Classic with a loss against No. 16 UGA in Athens, Georgia. Outfielder Izzy Kam ’24 and McFadyen scored the two runs for the Big Green in the first and fourth inning, respectively.
In the fourth inning of the afternoon loss to Mercer, McFadyen hit a single up the middle that helped outfielder Alaana Panu ’25 score a run. In the seventh inning, the Big Green added to the scoreboard with infielder Leila Hennessy ’25 hitting a double that sent outfielder Jenna Brown ’25 home.
In the March 20 loss to Illinois, Kam had two hits and scored a run, with Farren capitalizing off a fielding error in the first inning. The Big Green held a 1-0 lead until Illinois tied up the game in the second inning. In the fifth and final inning, Illinois dominated, scoring a total of six runs.
Later that day the team won its first game of the season against Mercer, with the Big Green recording five runs, five hits and five RBIs against the Bears. Pitcher Brooke Plonka ’22 had her third career shutout, striking out 13 and walking three. In the bottom of the first inning, Panu scored the first run with a single by Farren. Dartmouth scored four runs in the fifth inning, starting with outfielder Emily Lipsett ’22 pinch-hitting for Brown, earning a walk. After La Scola was hit by a pinch loading the bases, Kam hit a two-run double. After two outs, McFadyen hit a triple, sending the two runners on base to home plate.
On March 21, the Big Green traveled farther south to Alabama to take on Jacksonville State University. After losing 11-1, the team traveled back to Georgia on March 22 to face Georgia Tech in another doubleheader, losing the first game 1-0 and the second 9-1. Over the five-day stretch of competition, the team went 1-8 in its nine-game trip.
In the game against Jacksonville State, Katona scored the Big Green’s lone run in the top of the fourth inning, despite McFadyen and Brown each managing to get a hit off. During the team’s loss to Georgia Tech, McCarroll pitched a strong game, allowing no hits in the first 6 innings. However, Georgia Tech’s Chandler Dennis managed to shut out the Big Green the entire game. Despite the loss, Panu said she thought the first game against Georgia Tech was the team’s best performance of the season opener.
“For the first time, we had all the pieces of the team working, including defense, offense and pitching,” Panu said. “We all came together and realized what we were capable of. The team’s off-field chemistry has been great and in this game we figured out our on-field chemistry.”
The team later lost the second game against Georgia Tech. Head coach Jen Williams echoed Panu’s thoughts on the Georgia Tech games, noting that regardless of the outcome, there were still a lot of good pieces from the game.
Coming off of a long absence from competition during the pandemic, the team took on tough opponents in its first few games. With three of the class years on the team having yet to play a full college softball season, Farren said that she is excited about the group’s experience so far, particularly for the ’25s on the team.
“The freshman class in general is good at having short-term memory and forgetting failures and moving on from bad plays,” Farren said. “I think we all learned a lot from them this week.”
Looking forward to the rest of the season, the team feels confident with the season opener under its belt.
“The team is really excited and optimistic about future Ivy League games,” McCarroll said. “We decided who we wanted to be as a team, and determined we are not going to back down even against the toughest opponents.”
After returning from the trip, the team played three home games against Yale University on March 26 and 27, starting Ivy League play with two losses of 8-7 and 6-2 before finishing with a 10-3 win. The Big Green then went against Holy Cross College on March 30, winning the first game 4-1 and losing the second game 5-0. The team will next compete at Princeton University on April 2 and 3.
“We scheduled a tough season-opening trip because if you want to improve, you must play the best teams,” Williams said. “I think our best complete team performance was against Georgia Tech. The team has been working all pre-season… We’re excited about the season ahead. This starting week in Georgia [and Alabama] taught us what we need to do to be successful this season. We’re going to get better every single time we play.”