The Wellesley College softball team opened its 2018 season with an appearance at the PFX Spring Games conference in Clermont, Florida, the world’s largest college softball event, on March 23. The Blue lost its opening game against the University of Chicago 7-6 and then went on to win three out of the remaining eight games in the conference. The team is currently 3-9 in the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) and 6-17 overall.
Despite these early setbacks, the team has high hopes for this season.
“Every year we hope to reach our full potential and play every game to the best of our abilities regardless of the result,” said Head Coach Keri O’Meara. “If we can reach that goal we can typically get into the NEWMAC top 6, which is what the program has accomplished for the last 14 years. This season has been tough for us with injuries and a younger team, but we are still hoping and working hard to earn a top 6 spot.”
Six games remain in the conference before playoffs.
“I think we can all agree that we’d like our record to reflect a little differently,” added Amanda Manning ’18, one of the team’s three captains along with Madeline Bianchi ’18 and Julia Warner ’18. “However, we’ve been able to experience some great strengths in many areas of our game. As we enter into the last week of regular season, it’s all just a matter of trusting ourselves and putting it all together.”
In addition, team members also have individual goals for the season. “My goals revolve around appreciating all the moments I have left in the my sport, and hanging up my cleats with no regrets,” said Manning. “Goals that I have for my team, are for us to learn just as much from our failures as we do from our successes, and to never stop believing in the amazing things that we can accomplish when we work together.”
Several members of Wellesley softball have received honors from the NEWMAC in recent years. Warner was a member of the NEWMAC Academic All-Conference team in 2016 and 2017, and Manning was a member of the All-Conference team in 2017.
O’Meara was particularly enthusiastic about the leadership initiatives of the team captains. “We couldn’t ask for a more committed group of leaders. They lead by example on and off of the field and are passionate about their team, the softball program and Wellesley athletics!” she said.
The team has a lot of new talent this year, with seven members from the class of 2021. Most of the first-years on the team, including Alyssa Hana ’21, Gen Brittigham ’21 and Julianne Griffin ’21, are infielders. The team also has a new rookie pitcher, Thyme Morton ’21, who has pitched 12 innings so far this season.
Adjusting from high school level to collegiate level play can be difficult, but Wellesley softball is excited about its new talent.
“Although inexperienced at the collegiate level, several of these players have been huge additions to the team and become game changers with their powerful bats and sensational play making,” said Bianchi. “As they continue to grow as people and players, they are sure to give any NEWMAC team a run for their money.”
The Blue had a tough run this past Saturday, April 14, against the United States Coast Guard Academy, losing 1-4 and 6-13. However, spirits still remained high. Griffin achieved her first career home run in the second game, scoring two runs. Support for fellow team members was also rampant this weekend, with loud cheers and chants ringing from the bench almost every time a Wellesley batter stepped up to the plate.
The effect of this enthusiasm is not lost on players.
“My favorite part about playing softball at Wellesley is the automatic family you gain the moment you step onto campus,” Bianchi said. “Throughout my years here, I have gained and lost friends just like everyone else, but the softball team has always been there, and those girls are some of my best friends that I will have for the rest of my life. Being a part of a team is something that is very special to me and many other athletes.”
“The Wellesley Softball family extends to more than just our roster,” added Manning. “We couldn’t compete without the help of our amazing coaches, trainers, faculty, staff, family and friends that support us every step of the way!”
Six home games remain in the season. Wellesley softball’s last conference home game is its Senior Day game on April 21 against Clark University. The Senior Day game will celebrate all four seniors on the team and the commitment they have made to Wellesley softball over the years. The team hopes to see a strong turnout at the game, so show up to support the team and its seniors!