The Wheaton College women’s softball team has dominated their opponents throughout the season, rising into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Top 25 Poll. A 26-4 record entering Saturday’s doubleheader against MIT accurately depicts how successful the team has been to this point, which included a 17-game winning streak in March.
Pitcher Allison Baker ’14 accredits the success of the team to a three-pronged set of skills: pitching, hitting, and defense.
“I think we’re a triple threat, we’ve hit so much better than ever, our pitching staff is doing really well, and we have some freshmen that came in that are helping close games, and our fielding has been pretty solid. I think those are the three components that make a successful softball team.”
The support Baker ’14 mentions comes from freshmen pitchers Galen Kerr ’17 and Daniele Cimino ’17. Combined the two have relieved pressure on Baker ’14, Emily Berardi ’15, and Noelle Christmas ’15 by throwing about 20 innings. Kerr also picked up an impressive win in relief of Baker in a 7-6 victory over Clark University on April 5.
On both sides of the ball, Berardi ’15 has played like an MVP candidate for the Lyons. She was recently honored for her efforts by being named the NEWMAC Softball Pitcher of the Week, and continues to grow in her junior year as one of the best all-around players on the team. Berardi ’15 sports an ERA just under 2.00 this year while also leading all regulars in hitting.
Caroline Fairbanks ‘17 and Jenna Rocha ‘14 have generated most of the power in the lineup. Heading into this past weekend, Fairbanks led the Lyons with six home runs and 30 RBI this season, while Rocha has belted nine doubles. The collective offense has been most stunning, as nine different Lyons have driven in and scored at least ten runs. Baker ’14 notes how the extra offense helps the pitching staff stay in control.
“It’s a lot less stress on us if we give up a few early runs, I’m completely confident that we’re going to come back and make those up, and it’s basically like a tie game again starting 0-0.”
The team started the year off strong by winning nine of ten games in Florida as a part of the Rebel Spring Games. Their first home games of the season came against Lesley University on March 21, when they took both games of a doubleheader by final scores of 7-2 and 15-0.
Many challenges remain for the Lyons as they enter the final stretch of their regular season schedule with road games at Smith and Springfield on April 18 and 19. Off the field, Baker ’14 is tasked with an entirely different challenge: teaching English at Norton High School down the street.
As student teacher and student athlete, Baker ’14 is tasked with balancing a full workday while fulfilling the demanding requirements of a student athlete.
“I get up at 6:15am every day, Monday through Friday, and I’m usually at Norton High School at 7:15 every day, and I’m there until about a quarter to three” she says about her daily schedule this semester. “I teach two ninth grade English classes, level one and Honors, and then I teach a senior/junior journalism elective on sports reading and writing.”
With practices and games following directly after school, Baker ’14 generally finds her first break in the action late in the night—which is when she gets the opportunity to lesson plan for upcoming class periods and catch up on grading.
“I’m really happy that I have the opportunity to student teach and still play softball, but it definitely is a balancing act for sure.”
As Baker ’14 and the Lyons head for the NEWMAC upcoming NEWMAC tournament, they can expect the competition to become fierce as they attempt to defend their impressive Top 25 ranking.