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Softball Team Has .500 Record in Florida Pre-Season

By Showna Chang
and Lynn Albers

Team Tri-Captains

The women of the varsity softball team tied their best-ever spring-break record two weeks ago at the Rebel Spring Games in Orlando, Fla. They finished the week 4-4 and made history by defeating two teams under the seven-run slaughter rule.

The Engineers started off their week with a 3-0 shutout against Carthage College led by pitcher Lynn Albers '92, who struck out the first four batters. MIT displayed astonishing outfield communication as center fielder Jen McMurray '93 and left fielder Dionne Chapman '94 collided, tumbled, and still came up with the out. C. J. Doane '95 bashed the season's first triple in the fifth inning to bring home Coleen Kaiser '94, who had previously singled.

In the second game, the Engineers were unable to contain the heavy hitters of the University of Illinois at Chicago, losing 11-6. Debuting at first base, Nanette Palmer '94 played solid defense in her debut at first base, and pulled her weight on offense, driving in three runs. The Illini out-nerded all the other teams by not only understanding our "e-to-the-u" cheer, but also singing a version of their own, which began: "x-squared, y-squared, H-2-S-O-4 . . ."

The next morning, MIT beat Mott College 9-2 to finish the game at the bottom of the fifth. Senior tri-captain Denise Nemchev '92 scored three runs after getting on base by doubling, singling, and getting beaned by the ball. The top of the batting order kept their bats warm as Nemchev, tri-captain Showna Chang '92, Kaiser, and Doane had two, three, four, and two hits, respectively. Kaiser and Doane also had three RBIs a piece. Newcomer Stephanie Gellor '94 singled her first time at bat to add to the already hot Engineer offense.

In the fourth game, MIT played solidly but couldn't generate the hits necessary to help pitcher Kaiser, and they lost to Henry Ford 5-2. Newcomer Christina Gibb '94 was successful in hitting singles on each of her two at-bats.

On Thursday, the morning after a downpour, the Engineers found themselves playing on a field attached to a left-field lake. With the burning afternoon sun, Doane and Carrie Miller '95 couldn't resist taking a dip in the muddy water after the game. Unfortunately, MIT lost to Manchester College, 8-4, but was able to come back in the second game to beat Moravian College 8-2. Chang made her third unassisted double play in three days to lead the MIT defense, as Colleen Johnson '93 had two singles and two RBIs to rally the offense.

Friday morning, MIT slaughtered Monroe College 8-1 to finish the game early. Albers heated up the mound with five strikeouts for the game, while Kaiser tallied three RBIs, and Nemchev and McMurray each had three stolen bases. That afternoon, MIT played probably its toughest Florida competition, losing to Plymouth State College 10-0. Chapman led the team with two hits.

The experience gained in Florida helped prepare the team for its New England opponents and provided an opportunity for the players to work together in their new positions. On the whole, the team batted about .330, and the top of the order batted over .400.

Upon their return to MIT, the Engineers proceeded to roll over their opponents, winning all their games last week to start off the season with a bang. Since none of the games in Florida count toward the NCAA record, the team's record now stands at 4-0, with a NEW 8 Conference record of 2-0. Monday afternoon, MIT sent Mount Holyoke packing during their first NEW 8 Conference contest, winning 11-1 at the end of the fifth under the ten-run slaughter rule. Albers captured the win, and struck out nine batters.

Wednesday, MIT faced a tough-hitting Clark University, but the team played solid defense and emerged victorious, 7-1. Kaiser debuted as catcher and proceeded to throw out two runners attempting to steal second. The game was close until the Engineers opened it up in the sixth inning. With two runners on base from walks, Chang and Kaiser hit singles and had RBI's, and Doane brought in another run with a sacrifice fly.

On Saturday, the team played its second NEW 8 Conference game against Smith, who they had been looking forward to playing all week long. In the doubleheader, only the first game counted toward the conference record, and the Engineers worked hard to continue their winning streak. The game was scoreless until the top of the fourth inning, when Doane singled, moved to third on errors, then scored on a passed ball. The Engineers added a second run in the seventh inning and held Smith to win 2-0. The second run was scored by Chapman, who beat out a bunt and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Palmer. Chapman then exhibited her superb base-running skills by getting out of a run-down to score. Key defensive plays were made by the Engineers to keep Smith from scoring. McMurray picked up a grounder in center field and made a bull's eye throw to get the runner out at home.

MIT finished up its week by defeating Smith again in the second game, 6-2. Smith led 1-0 until the top of the fifth, when Nemachev reached first after being hit by a pitch. Kaiser then beat out a bunt, and Doane drove them both in with a blazing triple over the center fielder's head. Janeen Ault '95 made three important running catches in left field as the Engineers held on to give Kaiser her first pitching victory of the season.

The team plays all its weekday games at home this season. The next game is against WPI on Tuesday at 4 p.m.