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Softball plays perfect weekend at home

April 19, 2024

Courtesy of Brian Beard
HOME SWEET HOME: The softball team swept Amherst College and Hamilton College over the weekend, inaugurating the new softball fields in the recently-renovated Pickard Field complex with Assistant Coach Jen Burton throwing the first pitch.

Last weekend, the softball team (17–7; 4–4 NESCAC) earned decisive victories in its first home games of the season. Saturday’s sweep of Amherst College (6–17; 3–7 NESCAC) was followed by an intense matchup with Hamilton College (14-14; 7-7 NESCAC) on Sunday. Coming off a tough streak of conference losses, the four straight wins made for a comeback that recalled the team’s preseason performance (11–3) in the Florida heat.

The second game of the Hamilton doubleheader came on the heels of Saturday’s crucial wins against Amherst (4–2 and 6–1). After the Polar Bears’ took an early 4–1 lead in an eventful second inning, a scoring surge by Hamilton late in the game forced the teams into two extra innings.

In the top of the ninth inning, Hamilton raised the stakes with a run, but JK Bradley ’25 stepped up under pressure, batting in two runs for a final 6–5 score. Penelope Fong-Picariello ’27, whose batting consistently delivered over the games, recalled the energy of the moment vividly.

“I’ve never experienced anything like that. It was tied, and we went into the ninth inning with two outs, bases loaded,” she said. “And [Bradley] … she was so clutch. She drove in two runs and I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited in my entire life. I was jumping up and down coming out of the dugout.”

Bradley saw the second game as a testament to the team’s strengths.

“Those extra innings and being able to push through that … showed good stamina from our team,” Bradley said. “Especially coming off of an easy win, sometimes it’s easy to get complacent. We showed a lot of grit there, playing through that.”

She elaborated that the team’s cooperative style also contributed to its success.

“We all are really good at playing for each other this year,” Bradley said. “I think it’s really shown in how we approach the game and even stats-wise. Coming out of Florida, we had just so many runs and RBIs because our goal isn’t to hit a home run every time but … to do something better with the team.”

Fong-Picariello, a first-year addition this year, highlighted the dynamics being cultivated by the team.

“It’s a really young team, so I think we’re just trying to get used to each other, but we’ve blended really well and it’s really fluid on and off the field,” she said.

Making these games all the more significant was the inauguration of the new Pickard softball field following recent construction on the College’s athletic complex. Assistant Coach Jen Burton threw the first pitch and spoke highly of the new facility’s technical, all-weather advantages and the team’s fortuitous start on the new field.

“I thought it was great to be able to play the first game, to be able to get the first win, hit the first home run. All of these things that are first for this new facility and to be able to do it all together was great,” she said.

Outfielder Anika Ewert ’26 noted that the strong fan presence helped the mental side of the game.

“Being in our home environment just makes the game; it makes us have more confidence, builds up our energy. With that in mind, we’re just excited to be able to be at home and again playing in front of our friends, especially because a lot of them haven’t been able to see us play,” Ewert said. “It’s really a great support system for us.”

Looking toward the rest of the season, the team expressed excitement for its upcoming rivalry games with Bates College (6–15; 3–7 NESCAC) on Sunday and Colby College (11–11; 3–3 NESCAC) the following Tuesday, though Fong-Picariello emphasized the importance of staying present.

“I think I was looking way too far ahead in the beginning of the season, and so taking every game one game at a time, even just one ‘at bat’ at a time, one pitch at a time … it helps me just focus in and lock in,” she said. “In the end, it just helps the team and the game.”

Burton expressed that she is looking forward to NESCAC tournament play, but her principal goal is being the best team it could be and showing up fully each game.

“I just want us to play to the best of our abilities and not leave anything on the field. I want us to do the best we can and if we come up short, we come up short, but we know we gave it our all,” Burton said. “And that’s really my goal, is for us to be the best version of ourselves. And I think we’re definitely on the road to finding that.”


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