Spring sports preview

Women’s Tennis

The women’s tennis team officially begins its Centennial Conference matches on Saturday, March 21 against McDaniel. Until then, the team has five non-conference matches to look forward to. The first of these begins the team’s season this Saturday in a home game against New York University.

Before conference play officially starts, these games are used as warm-ups to test out team chemistry and determine any weaknesses the players need to improve. Abigail Schmidt ’16 explained, “This part of the season is still for tune-ups and really coming together as a team.”

Learning to work together is especially important for the women this year as slightly more than half of the team is made up of first years. “Along with their talents, these six [first years] bring fresh energy and dedication. First years have to go through a high school-to-college athletic transition and more experience will come as the season gets underway,” Schmidt said.

The women were ranked third out of 11 teams within the Centennial Conference, reflecting their successful performance last year in making it to the Centennial Conference Tournament. “Swarthmore consistently makes it to the postseason,” Schmidt commented. “One of our goals is to make another playoff run, and we put in a lot of hard work in the off-season to realize that and finish as a top team.”

The team will play its first match this season against NYU in the Mullan Center at 9:30 a.m.

Men’s Tennis

The talented, #39 nationally ranked men’s tennis team returned to the court yesterday in its spring opener against the University of Delaware in a home game and emerged victorious 4-3. Mark Fallati ’18 and Ari Cepelewicz ’18 along with Blake Oetting ’18 and John Larkin ’17 won the first and third doubles while Larkin, Fallati and Oetting also went on to win first, second, and fourth singles respectively.

With the graduation of five seniors and the addition of seven first years, the team begins this season very young. Harrison Lands ’15 explained, “There is a lot of enthusiasm in the young team and having a lot of energy will be important throughout the season — especially when we face tough opponents.” Confident in the abilities of the new blood, Lands described the bonds between teammates as already being incredibly close. “I think we will be seeing a lot of new faces in the line-up,” Lands said.

Last year, the team annihilated Haverford College in the Centennial Conference semifinals 5-0 but went on to lose against Johns Hopkins University in the championship 1-5. Selected to place second in the preseason poll, Swarthmore hopes to defeat Johns Hopkins this year and kick the Blue Jays out of their 8-year winning streak. “It will definitely be extremely competitive,” said Lands.

Although the men don’t face Johns Hopkins until well into March, the team has #30 nationally ranked NYU to look forward to this Saturday in a home game starting at 2 p.m.

Women’s Lacrosse

The women’s lacrosse team had a difficult season last spring as it finished conference play 2-7 and lost all four games played at home. The pre-season poll reflects this difficult season as they were selected to finish ninth out of ten Centennial Conference teams. However, the team is hopeful that the addition of seven new first year as well as the experience of the upperclassmen will be enough to prove the preseason poll wrong.

“This team feels really strong,” said Elyse Tierney ’15. “We have an incredibly deep bench that we will be taking full advantage of … I expect to finish much higher than the preseason poll expectation.”

The team will have their first chance this Friday in its match against Cabrini to gauge what their strengths and weaknesses are this season. “We’re still learning how to anticipate each other’s movements and how we mesh as a team in a game setting,” Tierney explained. “We’re planning to use the Cabrini game to learn more about how we play together.”

In addition to the upperclassmen’s experience, the first years’ energy and motivation will help propel the team to perform much better than it did last year. “The freshman class gives their all in every practice and their intensity has made the start of this season an awesome experience,” Tierney said. “I can’t wait to play with them for the rest of the season.”

See the first years in their debut performance in a home game against Cabrini this Friday at 5 p.m.

Men’s Lacrosse

The men’s lacrosse team struggled last year during their spring season as they felt the consequences of multiple team injuries and concluded their season 2-6. Although the team has significantly fewer injuries this season, they have continued to struggle; this past Sunday they fell to the Eastern Eagles 8-18. Ranked in the top 20 in some college polls, the Eagles are incredibly talented and served as a difficult first match for the team. Darrel Hunter ’15 therefore remains hopeful and believes this year’s team is destined to beat last year’s performance.

“Eastern was a very good team and while the final score was nowhere near where we wanted it to be, the game was a good first test for us,” Hunter said. “We have broken down the film and are prepared to make the necessary improvements this week in practice.”

Last year saw the graduation of a sizable, talented senior class but the incoming freshmen hope to fill their shoes. Christopher Thomson ’15 explained, “This current team has a great balance of leadership from the core group of older guys, but also a ton of contributions from the underclassmen … it will be a little more of a work-in-progress than last year.”

Lacrosse was selected to finish seventh out of nine conference teams this season, but Thomson went on to explain that these polls do not accurately reflect the shape that the team is in now, as they are based on the previous year.

The team will face Widener University in their first home game this Saturday at 12 p.m.

Softball

This spring, the softball team will return from last year’s difficult season in which they concluded in-conference play 3-13 and were defeated at all away games.

Still, Emma Madarasz ’15 remains confident in the team’s ability and is looking forward to in and out of conference play this season. “I think our team this year is incredibly focused, tight-knit and very dedicated,” Madarasz said.

The team has only eleven members, making it an incredibly small team for softball. “Compared to last year, I think we have a much larger emphasis on flexibility and it is doing wonders for our team chemistry,” Madarasz described. “Because we are so small, we have to work really hard to learn new positions and fight for our teammates when they maybe can’t do it for themselves.”

Their biggest strengths this season lie in their pitching. “We have four incredible pitchers ready to go this season, all of whom have an entirely different skill set,” Madarasz said. “I can’t wait to get into games with them on the mound.”

The team’s first game is right around the corner, and the team couldn’t be more excited.

“As always with a first game, I think that we’ll most likely have to work out a few kinks!” Madarasz added. The women will be able to determine just what kinks need to be tackled as they begin their season at an at-home game against Wesley College on Tuesday, March 3 at 3 p.m.

Baseball

The baseball team only graduated four seniors last year and took in a total of 10 first years this year, hiking up the number of players to an impressive 29. Last season, the team performed well in non-conference play, but struggled in Centennial Conference action.

Because the team is so young, upperclassmen are looking toward the freshman to step up and make important contributions to the team. As Trevor Shepherd ’15 explained, “We will definitely be looking for contributions from our freshman and sophomores. We also have a lot of returning starts who will be looking to bounce back from last season.”

The team hopes to continue improving their biggest strength: pitching. “Based on last season, we will look to our pitching to keep us in games. While it’s still early and we haven’t been able to play any games yet, I think our offense will be stronger on the whole as well,” Shepherd said.

The team has been confined to indoor practices due to the inclement weather, but hopes to get back on the field as soon as possible. Although their games have already been postponed until next Wednesday because of the weather, Shepherd emphasized how ready they are to begin their season play. “It’s always exciting to get on to the field for the first time in a season so I think the whole team is ready to go. We’ve all practiced indoors more than we’d like.”

The men’s first game of the season starts with an away game against Centenary College in New Jersey on March fourth at 3 p.m.

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