By Chris Gionta
To end its 2021 season, the Springfield College softball team lost the NEWMAC Championship series to Babson after a 3-0 and a 4-1 loss respectively. Despite being a bitter defeat, it is something the team has used to dial in unparalleled focus for the 2022 season.
“I think that we realized in that championship game, we left so many runners on,” Springfield head coach Kate Bowen said. “We definitely had so many more opportunities than Babson had, but they capitalized in those moments. I think when you look back thinking, ‘we were a couple timely hits away.’ I think just knowing that, we came back really hungry in the fall to make sure we were really working hard from day one.”
The particularly precise focus has led them to a 25-5 record on the year, which includes them winning 17 of their last 19. This is the best start in program history in the team’s first 30 games. They are also undefeated in their 10 conference games. Their two most recent victories came against MIT, who was ranked No. 24 in the country at the time of the doubleheader sweep.
One of the many factors in the team’s success was the chemistry that was built early in the year.
“What I think was really special this year in Florida was that the entire team lived in one house,” Bowen said. “They were all in one house and I think it was a great team bonding experience for them while we play 10 games down there.”
Leading the way on the rubber is Gillian Kane, who carries a 13-2 record along with a 1.65 ERA in 89.0 innings pitched. Sophomore Emily Gell has also been exceptional with preventing runs, as she sports a 1.59 ERA in 39.2 IP.
The team’s offense has also made significant strides. After hitting .268 with a .324 on-base percentage as a team in 2021, it is hitting .345 with a .394 OBP this season. Mackenzie Doyle has been dominating the year with a .500 batting average along with 18 stolen bases.
Sam Witmer, Ava Fernandez, Callie Gendron, Kristen Acocella, and Kayla Stvan are all hitting .370 or better in 45 or more at-bats. Witmer is a graduate student who is playing in her first year with the Pride after playing for four years at Trinity College. Leading the team with 26 runs batted in, her impact is felt greatly in the lineup.
“She has been someone who has also shown as a graduate student maturity in the box,” Bowen said. “She has a calm presence and I think we all feel really confident when Sam [Witmer] is up there with runners on that she can get the job done for us.”
Despite the Pride being first in the NEWMAC, they are not overanalyzing the future.
“I think we got to take it one game at a time before we get [to the playoffs],” Bowen said. “Focusing definitely on this weekend — not even thinking about playoffs yet.”
Springfield will be playing two doubleheaders over the weekend starting with Coast Guard. However, the matinee that will be of extra motivation is against the defending NEWMAC champions, Babson, on Saturday.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics