The rookies of the Springfield College softball team were unstoppable at the plate as they led the Pride to another pair of wins on April 11 against cross-town rival Western New England. This advanced Springfield’s already impressive record to 21-3 with 8-2 in conference play, as well as a No. 19 ranking in the NFCA.
Freshman standouts Allie Wheeler and Alexyss Conley played an instrumental role in the Pride’s opening victory against the Golden Bears. After facing a 2-0 deficit in the bottom of the 5th inning, the Pride knew it was time to wake up. Conley got things started by drawing a walk and then immediately stealing second to put herself in scoring position. An error and a pair of singles later, she was crossing home plate along with juniors Rachel Ball and Talia Loda to give Springfield the go-ahead with 3-2.
The Pride gave themselves a bit more room in the following inning when Conley led off the inning with a double to right field, but her stay at second base was short lived after Meghan Sastram picked up a two-bagger of her own, scoring Conley.
However, the Golden Bears were not asleep just yet. They started a rally of their own in the top of the 7th and capitalized on two untimely errors at the hands of the Springfield defenders. WNEU picked up 3 runs of their own in the process, forcing the Pride to play catch-up in their final at-bats with a score of 5-4.
True to form, they did just that. Allie Wheeler let off the bottom of the 7th with a double to left, scoring Carianna Gasdia and tying things up. Wheeler was pushed to 3rd by a pair of back-to-back walks, before Conley stepped up to the plate and propelled the Pride to victory, sending a shot into left field and scoring Wheeler to make the final score 6-5 Springfield.
Ace in the circle Loda threw an impressive 6.1 innings, giving up only one earned run in the process before junior Nicole Cring came in to finish things off.
Coach Kate Bowen was pleased with the team’s ability to bare down and pull out a win in walk-off fashion.
“We have asked the girls to play hard until the last out and that’s exactly what we did,” said Bowen. “This team has a tremendous amount of heart and fight.”
That same all-out approach is what led the Pride to their second W of the day. WNEU started things off once again with a 2-run shot by Aimee Kistner, to which the Pride answered back in the bottom of the second.
The bases were loaded for the already-electric Conley, who sent a ball through the left side to tie things up. Loda kept things moving with a shot of her own which plated two more, giving the Pride a 4-2 lead. The inning continued on as Kirsten Drobiak sent one off the fence in right-center, scoring Loda. Even then the hit parade kept moving, as Wheeler widened the lead with her third homerun of the season, giving Springfield a 7-2 advantage.
The Pride poured more salt in the wound in the fourth inning, as Loda and Kayla Padroff torched a pair of triples and Gasdia picked up a single of her own. The Golden Bears attempted to fight back in the top of the fifth, narrowing the deficit to seven runs, but the mercy rule was put into effect after Gasdia hit a sacrifice fly and scored Conley. The final score was 12-4.
With a relentless spirit and a group of freshmen that Coach Bowen describes as “fearless”, Springfield College just might be able to climb the NFCA ladder all the way to No. 1.