Despite uncertainty going into the semester, the softball team made the most of the abbreviated 2021 spring season. Although the team played only 12 games—compared to a usual 40 game season—with a small roster of 11 players, a focus on teamwork and enjoyment made it a season for all to remember.
Head Coach Ryan Sullivan noted that the COVID-19 pandemic presented the team with several challenges, including logistical difficulties surrounding testing and travel and a smaller roster due to many students studying off campus.
“It was harder than we probably anticipated just dealing with all the testing and travel and the restrictions,” Sullivan said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “We had games where we had multiple kids with a hamstring that was kind of bothering them. It’s like, well, you kinda have to play it, because we don’t really have anybody else [on the roster].”
Despite the limitations a small roster posed, Sullivan emphasized that the reduced length of the season allowed for all of the players on the roster to gain valuable experience and push their limits.
“We only had one weekend where we had to play two games on Saturday and two on Sunday, and that was really, really hard with only 11 kids,” Sullivan said. “So [because we usually didn’t have four games each weekend] I think 12 [games] ended up being about the right number considering everything we were going through.”
This reduced roster especially tested pitcher Ruby Siltanen ’21, the only pitcher on the team with a full collegiate-level season under her belt.
“I very much understood that I would be pushing myself as much as I could in terms of pitching because I had the most experience and needed to help support the sophomore pitcher, Abby,” Siltanen said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.
Though instrumental to the team’s success, Siltanen emphasized the entire roster demonstrated grit throughout the season.
“Everyone really stepped up, played into their role, and the underclassmen really stepped up considering they had never really played any college softball before,” Siltanen said.
Sullivan agreed that while the team was down on numbers, they maintained a consistent drive to win.
“We really just can go out there and play our game and play as well as we can,” Sullivan said. “We went in with that fierce mentality of wanting to win, but also with that underdog mentality because we’re down on numbers.”
The final 5-7-0 record indicates a season of ups and downs, but as Siltanen emphasizes, there is nothing like beating a rival on home field.
“One of the most exciting weekends we had was when we played Bates at home two weeks ago, and we kind of crushed them in both games,” Siltanen said. “That was really fun.”
Overall, this season reminded Siltanen and others of the reason they decided to play softball at Bowdoin in the first place, and Siltanen hopes this season will leave the team hungry for next year’s season.
“I think if this season has taught the players and the team anything is that we should be grateful for any and all opportunities we get to have to play softball,” Siltanen said. “Leaving the team with that feeling is super important for next year.”
Similarly, shortstop Lilly Armstrong ’23 is looking forward to returning to a full season.
“I think [playing softball] definitely made my semester, and I know all my teammates so much better,” Armstrong said. “I think that a lot of people don’t realize how important it is to us and our Bowdoin experience. It’s an especially special opportunity being able to play in our league, and to play for something was really exciting.”