MIT softball looks to continue strong play of last season despite dropping opener
The MIT softball team is still riding the wave of a successful 2016 season. Assisted by a strong senior class, the Engineers finished fifth overall in the nation. Last season stands as the most successful in program history with a final record of 34–14, 15–3 in the NEWMAC conference.
This season’s team is showing signs of a repeat performance. Their strengths lie in diverse pitching staff and talented base runners, including Jasmin Joseph ’18 and Devon Goetz ’20. MIT entered the season ranked second behind rival WPI in the NEWMAC coaches’ poll and 19th in the country. The Engineers started their season with a trip to Florida, where they played eight games against six teams, taking home a win in every match. The trip marked their first opportunity to see some of the competition in their conference this season.
On Monday, MIT hosted their NEWMAC opener, a double header against Babson College. MIT dropped both games to Babson’s strong offense. The pitching staff limited the number of scoring opportunities, but Babson’s ability to read the ball and predict the pitches earned them two wins. Babson’s record is now 11–7 overall and 3–3 in conference play. MIT, with fewer games played, is 8–2 and 0–2.
Ravenne Nasser ’19 started the first game tossing four shutout innings. In the fifth inning, Babson got a read for her pitching style and drove in four runs (two earned). Nasser closed out the inning and was replaced by Amber VanHemel ’19. VanHemel’s rise ball threw off Babson, who had become accustomed to Nasser’s low pitching style. Babson only got two hits off VanHemel and struck out twice.
MIT brought a strong energy to the plate to counter Babson’s offensive capability. The Engineers struck first, scoring once in the first inning and again in the fourth. Six players put up a total of six hits, keeping a win within sight the whole game. The Engineers held the lead through the fourth and remained optimistic they could take home the win despite falling behind 4–2.
In game two, MIT scored early, putting two runs on the board in the first inning to match Babson’s two. Unlike the first game, the energy in the dugout was lacking and Babson outlasted the Engineers at the plate. MIT scored their third run in the fourth inning, while Babson scored at least one run in every inning except the sixth, steadily increasing the margin of victory for a final score of 8–3.
VanHemel was tagged to start the second game to continue her clean execution from the first. Babson learned to read her rise ball quickly, attacking it as it hung as a high fastball in the air. With two runners on base, Deanna Delgado ’18 came in as relief. Delgado, a drop and screwball pitcher, recorded 24 strikes for 34 pitches. She tossed two and a third innings, allowing five hits and three runs, two of which were earned. Nasser returned to close out the game, allowing three earned runs and striking out two.
MIT’s pitching staff recorded six strikeouts over the two games. Babson had only had two strikeouts recorded against them in the four previous conference games.
MIT travels to face NEWMAC rivals Emerson College and Springfield College Friday and Saturday, respectively. Their next home games are Tuesday against NEWMAC team Clark University at 3 and 5 pm.
Hannah Gaudet is a member of the class of 2019.