After losing two of three games to Tufts (18-12, 6-4 NESCAC) last weekend, the Bowdoin softball team (24-8, 6-3 NESCAC) dropped to No. 2 in the NESCAC East. The Polar Bears must now win all three games against Bates (10-13, 1-6 NESCAC) this weekend in order to clinch a spot in the NESCAC playoffs.
According to Head Coach Ryan Sullivan, the team had a hard time recovering from rough innings in both games on Sunday. During the fifth inning of the first game, Tufts managed to get seven runs on Bowdoin, rendering the Polar Bears unable to make a comeback.
“It was kind of a tale of two days. I thought on Saturday, particularly considering the weather conditions, we played pretty well,” he said. “On Sunday, we had one bad inning in each of the two games that we played in the double header, which really let us down. This is uncharacteristic for us this year, so it’s a little surprising that that took place.”
Captain Lauren Nguyen ’17 believes that the prospect of facing Tufts, which has won three national titles in the past four years, intimidated the team and contributed to Bowdoin’s defeat.
“It’s not that we didn’t want it or anything like that,” Nguyen said. “We were too much in our heads about it, and that affected how we played—both our physical game and our mental game. I think it was the name on the jersey that kind of got us in our heads, and it affected how we played the games.”
Captain Marisa O’Toole ’17 agreed with Nguyen and thinks that this mindset allowed Tufts to control the game.
“We didn’t make the adjustments,” O’Toole said. “I think a lot of times we were pushing to get that big hit when our strength all season has been stringing together singles or doubles and not getting those big hits. If we had just relied on our own game and tried to play our game, our tempo, our pace, we would’ve been better off.”
Though upset at losing the 13-game win streak, O’Toole is confident that the team can move past these losses as it focuses on this weekend.
“We’re definitely disappointed with how it went but pretty determined to not let that derail us and push on and approach these games tomorrow and our games against Bates with as healthy a mindset as possible,” she said.
Despite Bates’ six conference losses and its spot on the bottom of NESCAC East, Sullivan is expecting a close game.
“NESCAC weekends are going to be competitive games no matter what the records are,” he said. “You play three times within 36 hours, so you tend to have some close games because it’s really hard to beat somebody three times, especially within that short time frame.”
Bates’ strengths lie in its pitching, which has given the Bobcats 33 conference strikeouts compared to Bowdoin’s 24. Furthermore, Bates has many young players that Bowdoin has not yet faced.
“They have a very good first-year pitcher, so we haven’t seen her, so that’ll be new and different. That obviously can take the game in a lot of different scenarios,” said Sullivan. “They’re a very young team, which is both good and bad. They’ll have nothing to lose.”
Ivies and end-of-the-semester classwork this weekend also pose additional challenges for the Polar Bears.
“Ivies does present some challenges just because the campus can be very loud,” Sullivan said. “And then as we work to the back end of the semester, there tends to be more papers and projects that students have to focus on. Unavoidably, there are guarantees that my players are going to have late nights.”
However, the team is staying focused and gearing up for a competitive weekend, as the Polar Bears face the Bobcats at 4 p.m. today at Bates and at noon and 2 p.m. tomorrow at home.