The softball team finally took the field for the first time in over a year this past weekend in a double-header against Amherst College after multiple game cancellations due to COVID-19 concerns. Despite some breakout performances, the Polar Bears lost both games with scores of 5-4 and 10-2, respectively.
The Polar Bears were supposed to play four games against Tufts last weekend, but those games were cancelled after an increase in positive cases of COVID-19 at Tufts. As a result, Head Coach Ryan Sullivan scheduled a matchup against Amherst, a NESCAC team that Bowdoin usually does not play in the regular season because Bowdoin and Amherst are in separate divisions.
“There were a number of schools that were facing COVID[-19] challenges during the week, and Amherst wasn’t scheduled to play anyone,” Sullivan said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “So we reached out to Amherst to see if we could set something up.”
After training all spring and being denied the opportunity to play at the last minute multiple times due to sudden cancellations, the players were thrilled to finally be playing in a game setting.
“It was awesome, especially as a senior, to be in that environment again,” Maddie Rouhana ’21 said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “Obviously we had a few hiccups … but that’s to be expected for our first games of the year, and it was just awesome to be out there as a group. Everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun.”
Although the Polar Bears were handed back-to-back losses by the Mammoths, Sullivan praised the tenacity and dedication of his team.
“We have an amazing group of young women to coach … really since March of 2020, they have shown strength in moving through the challenge of having a season cancelled, a semester changed, a semester at home and a new season that looks very different from any other,” Sullivan said. “The losses on Saturday really don’t alter our outlook at all. These were our first games in 13 months, and we’ve only had two games. Really, we were all so happy to just be on the field playing.”
Despite the final scores, the doubleheader had its share of highlights for the Polar Bears. During her first at-bat in the first game of this season, Katryna Dukehart ’23 hit a solo home run in the first inning.
“We had some really good hitting, and Ruby Siltanen [’21] did awesome pitching,” Rouhana said. “All around, it seemed like everyone contributed, which was awesome—especially for our first weekend of the year.”
However, not all of the team’s players were on the field. Both of the first years on the team are studying off campus this semester and are restricted from joining their fellow teammates for this spring season.
“It kind of sucks, because we only have two pitchers, and one of our [first years] is a pitcher,” said Dukehart in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “But they were texting us during the game and watching it on TV, which was nice to see.”
Rouhana emphasized that the team feels incomplete without the first years, but noted that even though they aren’t able to compete on the field, they are still getting involved.
“[We’re] sad that they can’t be with us, but we still have team talks with them and stuff … it’s not the same as having everyone on the field together, [though],” Rouhana said.
The team is hoping that games against Tufts and Colby that were cancelled earlier this spring will be rescheduled later this semester. But above all else, they’re thankful to be able to be out on the field again.
“[We try to] enjoy the opportunity to play,” Sullivan said. “As we have already seen this season, there are no guarantees regarding games to be played, so [we try to] take advantage of the chances we have and have fun with it.”