Swarthmore’s Softball Team kicked their season off in full gear during their spring break trip to Fort Myers, Florida. The team started the trip on March 5 with an early double-header. Stellar pitching from Emily Bowman ’18 led the team to a dominating 8-0 victory over Albion College. Bowman had nine strikeouts in the outing and was backed with strong showings at the plate by Marisa Mancini ’20 and Kennedy Kings ’20.
After an early momentum boost, the team picked up right where it left off in the afternoon against Rockport University. Swarthmore once again put on a hitting display. Hannah Thompson ’19 went 4-for-5 at the plate while McKenzie Ward ’19 had a strong showing on the mound to help lead the team to an 8-2 win.
Day two started off strong for the team as well. They barely defeated the University of Pittsburgh Bradford by a score of 6-5. The team fell into a 1-5 hole early in the game, but continued to fight until the end. Late in the seventh inning, the young team showed its true colors. Kings, Mancini, Anna Jensen ’17, and Elizabeth Curcio ’19 all contributed and pushed Swat into the winner’s circle.
After this dramatic comeback, Thompson and Curcio were very optimistic about the team’s performance.
“We came back in the seventh inning of one of our games to score five runs and win! I think that shows that our team has a lot of maturity,” Thompson said.
Curcio believed that the team’s youth played a major role in their success over break and will continue to moving forward.
“Having such a young team made the offseason really important. Our freshmen are all very good and most of them have learned to play new positions this year. Winning a game like that is just so much fun and showed all of us how good we can be,” Curcio said.
Swarthmore suffered a tough loss in the afternoon of day two, losing to Geneva by a score of 1-4.
Frankie Ponziani ’18 had a strong performance on the mound, striking out three opponents and only allowing one earned run. However, Geneva offense came on strong late in the game which propelled them to the victory.
Time spent off the field has helped add to the team’s camaraderie and companionship. In Florida, the team had a balance between games and free time. After a couple of long days of competition, the team had a break day to go to the beach and relax. Thompson said this added time together away from Swarthmore built even more team chemistry.
“We spent most of our time off together as a team. We went mini golfing, watched spring training games, and played countless hours of catchphrase and cards against humanity,” Curcio said. “On our full day off most of us went to the beach and then caught the end of Swarthmore’s baseball game that night. Just spending that much time together both on and off the field has created close friendships and these relationships help build good team chemistry.”
After some much needed time off the diamond, the team was ready to return to the field and play.
On day three, Bowman once again dominated the mound and led Swarthmore to a 3-1 victory over Eastern Nazarene College. Bowman struck out seven batters in a row and held her opponents to just three hits. Emilie Morse ’20 and Sara Planthaber ’17 had strong showings at the plate as well. The team continued their strong play in their second game of the day, played that afternoon. They defeated Clark University 4-1. Ward recorded her second win of the trip. Ward pitched seven innings in the outing and allowing no earned runs. Gabriella Natoli ’20 and Planthaber both shined at the plate, leading Swarthmore’s offensive attack.
Going into their final day of spring break competition, the team looked to end the trip on a high. In their first game of the day, Swarthmore defeated Bridgewater State by a score of 8-4. The win was highlighted by a five-run fourth inning and a three-run sixth. Morse, Kings, Mancini, and Curcio all contributed with strong at-bats in this impressive offensive stretch. On the mound, upperclassmen Ponziani and Bowman worked together to push the Garnet to the victory. In game two, Swarthmore recorded eleven hits, but ultimately came up short in a 1-2 loss to Rivier University. Mary Olesnavich ’18 kept the Garnet in the game with her strong pitching, recording a no-hitter through her first five innings. A tough stretch in the fifth inning was enough for Rivier to record two runs and slide past Swarthmore.
Overall, the players believe a strong offseason regimen has led to the team’s success thus far.
“We worked a lot with Chris and Erika at lifts and agilities. This helped our power at the plate a ton,” Thompson said.
With consistently strong performances at the plate game-in and game-out accompanying stellar pitching, the team looks to bring this high caliber play into conference games this spring.
“I feel like spring break was a really strong building block for us,” Ponziani said. “The freshmen in the lineup stepped up and got a lot of clutch hits, returners picked up where they left off, we have a completely healthy pitching staff this year that should do some great things, and everyone seems to be focused on winning. Going forward, I’m expecting a lot of positive things from this team, and I’m really excited.”
All signs point to a successful season for the Garnet this spring.