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Softball Looks for Improvement

By Damian Vega

TEAM COACH

A basketball court and a weight room -- hardly the necessary surroundings for softball practice. However, that was the environment in which the MIT Softball team began its season in mid-January.

Even though the much-improved Engineers remain winless, they have stayed competitive and are hoping to reverse the misfortunes of seasons past. The Engineers have not won a New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) title since 1986 and finished 2-24 last year. MIT softball has suffered through many coaching changes and losing seasons. This is an unfortunate trend that a first-year coaching staff and some talented players are hoping to change.

“They have the talent, the knowledge, the skills, and the team chemistry to win,” said first-year head coach Lisa Naas. “But with their history of rough seasons still on their minds, winning has become a mental challenge more so than a physical one.”

MIT falls to Fredonia State

Despite going 0-6 on a preseason trip to Florida, the Engineers put a scare into Fredonia State before falling 5-3 in eight innings. Trailing 3-0 entering the bottom of the seventh, MIT erupted for three runs to tie the game at three.

Senior captain Kristine L. Goldrick smashed a single up the middle, which was followed up by Erin C. Shea ’05, who had a single of her own. Both runners scored on errors by the second baseman, and Christine P. Thai ’03 was plated by Megan C. Daugherty ’03 to force the game into extra innings.

“To come back from that deficit in the last inning showed a lot of heart,” Naas said. “It was a great game for us and a big confidence builder.”

Engineers drop next six games

That confidence stayed with the Engineers despite dropping their next four games down South. Upon returning to the Northeast, MIT opened the conference season with a road doubleheader against the Coast Guard Academy.

Engineers’ starter Darcy K. Kelly ’03 shut down USCGA for the first two innings, and Rebecca L. Maglathlin ’04 gave MIT a 1-0 lead by plating Daugherty with a groundout to second. A strong hitting Coast Guard team, however, pounded out four runs in the third and five in the fourth to claim a 9-1 win.

In the second game, freshman Carly Saylor led off the game with a double to left center, stole third and came around to score on a groundout by senior Amy C. Lin. The 1-0 lead would be short-lived, however, as USCGA exploded for 14 runs in the first inning to take a commanding lead. Still, the Engineers showed fight, as sophomore Erin L. Hult (2-2, stolen base, RBI) and freshman Brittany S. Adamson (2-3, run, RBI) provided some offensive highlights.

“We’ve had a shaky start, but we’ll pull out of this strong and able,” Naas said. “Our defensive game has been sharp and clean; our pitching improves daily, but our offensive game needs work.” However, Naas said that the team still needs more confidence to capitalize on its abilities and get its first win of the season.