Softball

The 2018-19 school year has introduced new faces to the Emory Athletics coaching staff, adding Head Diving Coach Michael “Mike” Haun and Head Softball Coach Adrianna Baggetta to the roster.

Head Diving Coach Michael “Mike” Haun

After the departure  of former Head Diving Coach Alexandre Kossenkov over the summer, Haun brings his collegiate diving experience and enthusiasm for the sport to his new role.

A former diver at North Carolina State University, Haun currently works as a safety coordinator at the Atlanta Community Food Bank and has coached at Henry W. Grady High School and North Atlanta High School for the past two years. He received his MBA at Georgia College and State University and his bachelor’s degree in business management at North Carolina State.

Courtesy of Michael Haun

“Mike really stood out just because he’s so enthusiastic and really committed to the student athletes we have here and the community we’ve built,” Swimming and Diving Head Coach Jon Howell said. “He really is excited to dive in and to see what he can do with the program.”

Although the season will not officially start until late September, Haun has already set high goals with this year’s diving squad.

The past two seasons saw top marks from individual divers. Junior Trevor Burke earned third and second place in the three-meter and one-meter competitions, respectively, at the 2017 UAA Swimming and Diving Championships. Sophomore Katie Kushner earned second place at the 2018 UAA Championships for the one-meter diving competition and finished eighth in the three-meter.

“We want to continue the high performance in the conference championships and the NCAAs and have the success that we’ve enjoyed in previous years,” Haun said. “We want to continue that championship tradition.”

Howell expressed his desire to see the diving team succeed nationally alongside the swimming team and affirmed his belief in Haun’s abilities to reach that goal.

“[Our goal is] to get [the diving program] to a national stage that’s on par with the swimming program,” Howell said. “We’ve had divers as individuals who’ve done that, but I think with Mike’s leadership and his enthusiasm, we can really help that program really take a step forward, and I think it’ll benefit the swimming and diving team as a whole.”

Head Softball Coach Adrianna Baggetta

Courtesy of Emory Athletics

Formerly the associate head coach of the University of Iowa softball team, Baggetta touts Division I national recruiting experience and a solid understanding of the Emory student athlete in her new role as Emory’s head softball coach, replacing former Head Coach Penny Siqueiros.

Baggetta spent the past 16 years as a Division I coach, split equally between the University of Iowa and the University of South Carolina where she was also a team member from 1999 to 2002.

“[We were looking for] somebody who … can help people grow and who also understands the importance of academics,” Clyde Partin Senior Director of Athletics Michael Vienna said. “We want success certainly in terms of wins and losses, but first and foremost, [someone who] understands that the athletics program is part and parcel of a larger Emory education.”

Coming from Division I and Division III schools, Baggetta noted that both environments had a similar emphasis on academics.

“It’s still the same mindset,” Baggetta said. “We’re still here to be champions in the classroom and on the field.”

Last year, the Eagles clinched their 11th UAA Championship title after a 7-1, 6-3 doubleheader victory against New York University on April 27. Their season ended during the NCAA DIII tournament, eliminated only after a 5-2 loss to Maryville College (Tenn.) on May 12.

Baggetta hopes to build off the momentum from the team’s success.

“I appreciate and put a lot of value on what has already been built as a softball program,” Baggetta said. “I’m looking forward to moving this program to where it’s a national contender year in and year out.”

Editor’s Note: Editorial Page Editor Madeline Lutwyche (20C) is a member of the Emory Swimming and Diving team. She was not involved in the composition or editing of this article.

Left: Sophomore Greta Wilker throws shot put at the UAA Championships at Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) Feb. 24-25. Wilker broke Emory’s record, achieving top throw with a distance of 12.32 meters. Courtesy of Greta Wilker

Right: Wilker prepares for the pitch during a doubleheader against Berry College (Ga.) Feb. 18. The Eagles shutout the Vikings 2-0, 1-0 in both match-ups. Courtesy of Greta Wilker

In one weekend, sophomore Greta Wilker may catch a softball doubleheader and board a flight to compete in a shot put event the next day. The two-sport Emory athlete boasts seven RBIs, a home run in seven games played and the title of top finisher in the shot put event in the University Athletic Association (UAA) Indoor Championships.

Wilker committed to Emory’s softball team as a catcher, and she found herself a star athlete on both the softball and track and field teams her sophomore year.

Juggling multiple sports is familiar to Wilker, who competed as a four-sport varsity athlete in high school. In her home town of Belding, Mich., Wilker was a member of her high school softball, track and field, volleyball and basketball teams.

“During my recruiting process, I was looking for a good academic school, a pre-med program and I wanted to go out of the state of Michigan,” Wilker said. “I got in touch with [softball Head] Coach Penny Siqueiros, and, after visiting campus a couple of times, I decided to commit to Emory.”

Wilker spent her freshman year at Emory as a single-sport athlete, making her collegiate debut on the softball team.

She kicked off her softball career with a bang, knocking a solo homerun over the fences in her first at-bat as an Eagle. During Wilker’s first year, she started in nine of the 18 games she played and amassed three hits and four runs in 21 at-bats.

With the softball and track and field seasons on the horizon for the Spring 2018 semester, Wilker had intended to only compete on the softball team again her sophomore year.

But after a conversation between Siqueiros and track and field Assistant Coach and throwers coach Luke Johnson, Wilker realized she could feasibly compete in both sports. After Johnson evaluated her shot put throws, he added Wilker to the team.

Johnson said he looked into bringing Wilker onto the team after Siqueiros approached him this semester and suggested that Wilker could effectively compete in both sports.

“I looked up [Wilker’s] high school statistics and was surprised to see she was much better than I anticipated,” Johnson said. “I set up a meeting with [Siqueiros] and I was willing to do whatever it took to get [Wilker] on the team due to her ability.”

Eager to compete in multiple sports as she did in high school, Wilker agreed to compete for both squads.

Johnson noted Wilker’s desire to keep a busy schedule by playing multiple sports.

“She was very busy in high school playing many sports, so she was active all the time,” Johnson said. “She was happy to get back in the swing of things and be a part of both softball and track and field.”

Wilker, who is majoring in anthropology and human biology, emphasized having a well-planned schedule to keep up with the two varsity teams. Although she attends both practices, she prioritizes softball.

“I have to be diligent with my schedule and knowing when I have to do certain tasks,” Wilker said. “Ultimately, it’s not too much of an added stresser switching from one sport to two from a time perspective. The biggest factor is having to keep up with the schedule for two different teams.”

In her first shot put competition the morning of Feb. 9, Wilker finished the event as the top NCAA Division III shot putter and No. 12 overall in the Dunamis Super Meet in Emerson, Ga. Her best throw traveled 11.74 meters.

That same day, Wilker returned to campus to face off against Birmingham Southern College (Ala.) in a softball doubleheader.

While the Eagles dropped the first game of the doubleheader 5-2, Emory bounced back to claim a 5-0 victory in the second. Unfazed by a long day of competing, Wilker launched a solo home run in the bottom of the third.

Later that month, Wilker flew to Cleveland for a meet on the night of Feb. 24, just hours after catching two games in a doubleheader against Covenant College (Ga.). The Eagles won both games of the back-to-back, 5-1 and 2-0.

Perhaps in her best athletic performance yet this season, Wilker broke a school record and achieved the top throw in the UAA Indoor Championships at Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) Feb. 25, with a distance of 12.32 meters.

“Winning UAAs has definitely been the highlight thus far of my collegiate shot putting experience,” Wilker said. “That weekend I started with two games that Saturday, and I flew to Cleveland that night to compete Sunday morning.”

Johnson said that Wilker’s natural talent allowed her to have immediate success on the collegiate shot put circuit.

“She was born with talent that a lot of people are not born with,” Johnson said. “It isn’t very often you can have an athlete go out there with limited practice and break the school record in her second collegiate meet.”

With an already busy start to her spring semester, Wilker is primed to have an equally busy few months to follow. The conference portion of the softball schedule lies just around the corner, as does the brunt of the outdoor track and field season. But for a former four-sport athlete, two sports should be a stroll through the ballpark. Or through the track field, in Wilker’s case.

Sophomore infielder Jessy McLean assumes her hitting stance in an Eagle home shutout against Berry College (Ga.), boosting the team’s record to 4-2. Ayushi Agarwhal/Staff

The Emory softball team split a pair of doubleheaders against Averett University (Va.) Feb. 15 and swept Berry College (Ga.) Feb. 18. Against Averett, the Eagles edged out a 1-0 win but then suffered a 5-3 loss.

In the opening game, sophomore second baseman Sarah Katz hit a single, prompting a point by freshman pinch runner Drew Bullock from second base. Altogether, Emory grabbed five hits during the game.

Sophomore pitcher Sami Feller started the game, allowing only one hit and striking out six. Freshman Jacqueline Spizizen came in as relief to throw four shutout innings and allowed only one hit. Spizizen maximized her time on the mound, striking out seven players while also picking up the win.

In the second game, Averett returned for revenge. Averett scored first in the second inning, and doubled their advantage in the fourth off sophomore third baseman Andrea Grant’s homer. The Cougars collected two more runs in the top of the fifth frame. Grant and freshman pitcher Kaitlyn Aherron both gathered RBI doubles.

Spizizen said that the difference in the two games against Averett was timely hitting.

“[Our problem] was just timely hitting,” Spizizen said. “We didn’t get our hits together. However, we worked [hard] and we continued to fight and [come back].”

Emory responded with three unanswered runs in the bottom of the sixth. Katz advanced on a two-run single, allowing junior outfielders Sam Vincent and Sarah Flanders to score. Sophomore infielder Jessy McLean hit a sacrifice fly to help the Eagles to another run by junior shortstop Cassie Baca.

Averett closed out the doubleheader after an insurance run in the seventh inning off an Aherron triple sealed their victory.

Emory followed the split with two shutouts against Berry (2-0, 1-0). Spizizen led the way with some stellar pitching in both wins.

In the opener, Spizizen tossed six strikeouts and allowed three hits. She retired 13 straight batters in the first four frames before loading the bases in the fifth inning. But she escaped the problematic scenario thanks to a pop-up during a two-out situation.

Berry freshman pitcher Meredith Holland played a strong game in the first four frames, holding onto the shutout before the Eagles grabbed a pair of runs in the fifth inning. Bullock hit an RBI double to bring juniors outfielder Jenna Wilson and Flanders to plate.

In the evening game, Spizizen continued her hot run of form. She gave up nine hits but dodged any scoring threats.

Flanders notched the lone score of the game. She started off with a single, and eventually ended up at third base after stealing off an error. After Katz attempted to steal second, Flanders scored.

Spizizen praised the Eagles’ defense, but noted that the offense needed work.

“Our defense is really gelling,” Spizizen said. “Our team is really coming together [on that side]. [On offense], we just need more time to prepare on our timely hitting. The power is there and it should come together.”

After a successful weekend, the Eagles have boosted their record to 4-2. They return to action Feb. 24 to host Covenant College (Ga.) in another doubleheader.

Tennis Falls to Local Rivals

The No. 2 Emory women’s tennis team lost their first two matches of the season this past weekend. The Eagles suffered a 6-3 loss at home to Georgia State University Feb. 10 and a 6-1 loss to Coastal Carolina University (S.C.) Feb. 11.

Senior Bridget Harding and freshman Ysabel Gonzalez-Rico won their doubles match 8-3 against Coastal Carolina, moving Harding to tie for fifth place all-time with 93 career victories. But Coastal Carolina won second and third doubles to claim the point. Gonzalez-Rico was the only Eagle to snag a singles win, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5).

Against Georgia State, Harding and Gonzalez-Rico won first doubles, while senior Anna Fuhr and freshman Stephanie Taylor claimed second doubles, both matches by a score of 8-5. Sophomore Emma Perelman won sixth singles for Emory in straight sets, 6-3, 6-1.

The team is set to play at home again Feb. 18 against Columbus State University (Ga.) at 1 p.m.

Georgia Gwinnett College swept the Emory men’s tennis team at home, 9-0, Feb. 11 in the Eagles’ first match of the season. Senior Scott Rubinstein and junior James Spaulding played to a close 8-6 loss in first doubles, matching the result of junior Jonathan Jemison and senior Max Renke in third doubles. The Eagles will face at home Feb. 17 Bluefield State College (W.Va.) at 10 a.m. and Xavier University of Louisiana at 3 p.m. — Alisha Compton

Softball Redeems in Rematch

The Emory softball team began their season by splitting a double-header against the Birmingham-Southern College (Ala.) Panthers Feb. 9. The Eagles came up short in the first game, losing 5-2, but came back to shut out the Panthers while putting up five runs of their own.

Both teams were tied at one run a piece heading into the top of the fifth of game one. It was then that the Panthers hit their stride and added four runs, enough to win the game 5-2.

In game two, junior pitcher Toko Miller stymied the Panthers, throwing a complete game shutout. Miller allowed only three hits, a walk and struck out five batters in seven innings of work. Sophomore catcher Greta Wilker put an exclamation point on the 5-0 victory with a solo homerun in the bottom of the third.

Emory will host Berry College (Ga.) in a double-header Feb. 17. — Stephen Mattes

Avant, Men’s Basketball Beat Buzzer

The Emory men’s basketball team tallied two crucial University Athletic Association (UAA) road wins this weekend, topping Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) 82-80 Feb. 9 and Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) 75-72 Feb. 11. The wins improve Emory’s season record to 18-4 with a 9-2 UAA record. With three conference games remaining, the Eagles sit solidly at No. 2 in the UAA standings, just behind No. 1 Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) (20-2, 11-0).

Emory held the last-place Carnegie Mellon Tartans at arms length for most of the contest, but the Tartans crept closer as the game progressed, tying the score at 80 after three clutch free throws from senior guard Ryan Maha with 13 seconds remaining. On the game’s final possession, senior center Christopher Avant put in the winning bucket with one second left on the clock, giving Emory the 82-80 victory. Senior forward Adam Gigax led the scoring with 27 points and junior guard Gebereal Baitey added 16 points, seven rebounds and three assists.

Sunday’s contest at Case Western was a nail-biter, fraught with lead changes. Two free throws from Emory freshman guard Romin Williams with 15 seconds remaining gave Emory a three-point advantage that held till the final buzzer. Williams finished with 20 points while senior guard Whitt Rapp nearly dropped a double-double, adding 10 points along with nine assists.

The team will face New York University Feb. 16 at home at 3 p.m.

Kevin Kilgour

Senior pitcher Brittany File winds up for a pitch in the Eagles' home series against Brandeis University (Mass.). After dropping the first half of the series, the Eagles bounced back for two consecutive victories. Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff
Senior pitcher Brittany File winds up for a pitch in the Eagles’ home series against Brandeis University (Mass.). After dropping the first half of the series, the Eagles bounced back for two consecutive victories. Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff

The Emory women’s softball seniors played their final regular season home games April 7-8. Settling for a 2-2 draw in a four-game series against Brandeis University (Mass.), Emory suffered two losses April 7, 4-1 and 5-4, but returned April 8 to take the series’ final two games 3-0 and 8-0.

The draw is identical to the result of last week’s contest against Washington University in St. Louis.

 The first inning of game one began with senior pitcher Brittany File hitting a Brandeis player with a pitch, an error that eventually cost Emory a run after two single Brandeis hits. The Eagles did not execute a run until the bottom of the fourth inning when Michael hit a single to right center and sophomore outfielder Sam Vincent followed with a single that brought Michael home.

The score remained 1-1 until the top of the eighth inning when Brandeis pulled ahead with three additional runs for a final score of 4-1. Freshman pitcher Sami Feller let two on base before being pulled for sophomore pitcher Toko Miller. However, Miller could not strand the runners, allowing Brandeis a home run that brought in the game’s final three runs.

As for the second loss, the game was closer with a final score of 5-4. The score remained 4-4 until the eighth inning when Brandeis loaded the bases and junior pitcher Audrey Weller walked a Brandeis player to result in an RBI. Emory was unable to answer in their final at bats.

“We were disappointed on Friday, but we came together in the locker room; we refocused and had a better game plan going into Saturday,” freshman utility player Jessie Michael said.

Michael said that the team was motivated by the fact that this was one of their last times to play for their departing seniors.

“We decided it was a lot about playing with a lot of heart, not being afraid, not overthinking things and playing every game like it’s our last,” Michael said.

Emory’s performance improved immensely against the same opponent for two sweeping wins April 8.

File pitched the entirety of both games Saturday. In the first game, she pitched nine strikeouts and let up only one hit in the first inning as a Brandeis player singled to right center. In the bottom of the third inning, Michael, junior infielder Janelle Turnquest and freshman first baseman Kinsey Glasgow each earned an RBI, tacking three more runs onto Emory’s scoreboard.

The infield celebrates around senior pitcher Brittany File (center). Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff.
The infield celebrates around senior pitcher Brittany File (center). Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff.

In Saturday’s second game, File achieved eight strikeouts. Brandeis hit more in that game than Saturday’s first but failed to execute any runs. Three of Emory’s eight runs came in the bottom of the first inning, with singles from Michael and Turnquest and a double from Glasglow.

Another great inning for the Eagles came in the bottom of the third, when Emory earned three additional runs. Glasglow hit a single, followed by another from Vincent. Freshman infielder Jessy McLean hit a fly to right field and Glasglow made it home. The big moment of the inning came when senior outfielder Taylor Forte tripled to right center to bring Vincent home. Baca followed with a double to left field and Forte scored the last of three runs for the inning.

The Eagles would finish off the last game in the bottom of the fifth with one additional run from a single by sophomore outfielder Sarah Flanders, who was brought home by a single from Forte.

The team made consistent contact with the ball Saturday as a result of a more focused mentality at the plate.

“We took out the emotional side of the game and we focused on being aggressive and taking risks,” Michael said. “We wanted to make that diving catch, make that throw to home, just get to relax and play how we know how to play.”

The Eagles will enjoy a week off before taking to the road for their final four regular season games against New York University April 21 at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. and April 22 at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Senior outfielder Taylor Forte swings for the fences in the Eagles' home series against Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.). Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff
Senior outfielder Taylor Forte swings for the fences in the Eagles’ home series against Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.). Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff

In an extended weekend of play for Emory softball, the Eagles came away with a positive 4-2 record over six games. The team won both games March 30 against the DePauw University (Ind.) Tigers 9-1 and 7-6. In their two-day series against Washington University in St. Louis (Mo.) Bears, the Eagles shutout their opponent 5-0 and 7-0 in the series’ first two games March 31. The momentum shifted during the second half of the series April 1, with the Bears avenging Friday’s defeats with two wins of their own, winning 8-0 and 10-8 against Emory.

Emory Softball Player of the Week and freshman pitcher Sami Feller attributed the wins to the Eagles’ hitting expertise. She recognized junior infielder Janelle Turnquest and sophomore shortstop Cassie Baca as instrumental to their four wins; they each contributed two RBIs in the first and second games against Depauw.

In the first DePauw game, the Eagles managed to collect eight more runs than the Tigers because of their consistent talent at the plate. In the bottom of the third, freshman utility player Jessie Michael hit a single to bring Baca home and advance senior outfielder and captain Taylor Forte to second. After senior second baseman Amy Wray was walked, the bases were loaded. Turnquest then hit a double to left-center field that resulted in an additional three runs that brought the inning total to four runs, contributing to Emory’s 9-1 win.

Excellent pitching also played a significant role in the Eagles’ four-game win streak. In the second WashU game, senior captain and pitcher Brittany File assisted sophomore starting pitcher Toko Miller during the top of the third inning. Miller provided Emory with five strikeouts, holding the Bears’ run total to zero.

Things were looking up for the Eagles after the third game, but the team gave way in the final two WashU games, losing the third game of the series 8-0 before falling 10-8 in the series’ conclusion.  

The Eagle’s longest win streak this season came at the end of February with five consecutive wins against Wesleyan College (Ga.), Messiah College (Pa.), N.C. Wesleyan, Piedmont College (Ga.) and Averett University (Va.).

The team huddles around sophomore catcher Lana Herrmann for a quick conference. Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff.
The team huddles around sophomore catcher Lana Herrmann. Gemy Sethaputra/Senior Staff.

Securing consistent wins has been a challenge for the Eagles thus far, but with a 10-4 record over the course of the past 14 games, things are looking up as the end of the season approaches.

Turnquest said that the team’s energy was a big factor in these games.

“On Friday we came out really strong, with the mindset that they’re in our house,” Turnquest said. “On Saturday I think we started out strong … but our energy started to drop.”

Sophomore pitcher Klamath Henry agreed with Turnquest, stating that Saturday didn’t go in the Eagles’ favor.

“Our coach [Penny Siqueiros] went in to call a timeout [in the third WashU game],” Henry said. “She had already called a timeout in the inning, [so] technically you have to switch around a player, so [Siqueiros] had to switch out a pitcher.”

Siqueiros then decided to put in junior pitcher Audrey Weller to finish the game. Needing the timeouts to make adjustments, the pitcher switch was an unfortunate consequence that took the Eagles’ out of rhythm.

“[Weller] pitched really well the rest of the game, but this little thing was a mind block for us, and really threw off our energy … There was no excuse, but we learned from it,” Henry said.

Turnquest also remarked on her team’s final month of regular season play and the goals they have for a successful finish.

“Our biggest goal is to give it our all for our seniors,” Turnquest said. “Whether we’re stepping on the field for a practice or a game, it’s really all for them in this last month.”

The Eagles will continue the regular season with four home games next weekend against Brandeis University (Mass.). The two UAA teams will face off April 7 at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., and April 8 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Emory women’s softball traveled to Cleveland to play four games against the Case Western Reserve University (Ohio) Spartans and ended the weekend 2-2. They lost March 24 in a close game, which ended in a score of 9-8 but returned strong in the second game for a 7-0 win. The Eagles prevailed once again March 25, exploding for 15 runs in the day’s first game, while limiting the Spartans to only three. The series concluded with a Case Western rally to defeat Emory 5-4.

The team continued to reach a season total of seventeen wins and nine losses. Now just a few games past the halfway point in their regular season, the Eagles have already lost five more games than the entirety of their 2016 campaign.

Results have not lived up to expectations, but among the struggles thus far, a number of bright spots for this Eagle team lies ahead.

“We’ve seen lots of development in areas we didn’t have at the start,” junior first and third baseman Ashley Powers said. “Our hitting has really come through and our pitching has been great.”

Expectations were as high as ever coming into the season, but with a 17-9 record, the Eagles must adjust as they prepare for the final stretch of the season.

According to Powers, the team has struggled to execute properly.

“The struggle has really been focused on getting to combine all of these things to be turned on every single game,” Powers said.

With experience in the Division III Softball Championship last season, captain and senior second baseman Amy Wray has seen a lot in her time at Emory. But now, with only a few months left of play this season, the clock is ticking for Wray and her team if they wish to turn things around.

One of her favorite Emory moments — playing in the World Series —  is an experience Wray and her teammates would like to repeat this year.

The team still clings to World Series dreams, but given the struggle to secure consistent victories, adjustments were necessary.

“Our goals have changed,” Wray said. “Based [on] our successful season last year, we had our sights set on winning a national championship. We need to take each game and each play as it is, find success in the little things and [build] up towards the larger goals.”

The talent is there — the Eagles’ returned with a number of key performers from last year’s World Series run. Now it’s up to the players to put the pieces together to reach that winning formula.

“This is the best season I’ve seen [Wray] have,” Powers said. “She’s been hitting very well, as has [captain senior outfielder] Taylor [Forte], with a hitting power I’ve never seen from her before.”

Wray remained optimistic when talking about the series with Case Western, focusing on what the team did well instead of dwelling on the losses.

“For the games that we won, we were able to string a ton of hits together and rally as a team,” Wray said. “And we were able to execute defensively.”

Wray has taken on a new outlook on the team’s play as she sees the end of her final season near.

“We’re living in the moment and taking each challenge as it comes,” Wray said. “Post-season is still where we want to be, but for right now we’re enjoying the present, taking each challenge as it comes and seeing where that leads us.”

The Eagles have four more games for the month of March, facing off against DePauw University (Ind.) March 30 at Emory at 2 and 4 p.m. On March 31, the Eagles will play Washington University in St. Louis at 2:30 and 4:30 p.m.

In an exciting weekend, the Emory women’s softball team swept four teams at the William Peace Triangle Classic in Cary, N.C. The Eagles won 2-1 against Messiah College (Pa.), 4-0 against North Carolina Wesleyan College, 8-1 against Piedmont College (Ga.) and 7-5 against Averett College (Va.).

“I think this weekend was one of the first few moments where we felt like we were playing the Emory softball we know we can play,” captain and senior second baseman Amy Wray said. “We fought hard and came out with four wins.”

The highlight of the weekend came in the fourth and final game for the Eagles when the team was neck and neck with Averett for the entire game, each making big gains until the final inning when the Eagles pulled through with a tight victory.

The Eagles previously played Averett twice this season, losing the first time 7-4 but prevailing the second 7-0.

Head Coach Penny Siqueiros noted the strengths of her pitching squad this weekend.

“[Senior pitcher] Brittney File and sophomore pitcher Madeline Maday on the pitcher’s mound had a fantastic weekend, with [freshman pitcher] Sami Feller who did really well [too],” Siquerios said.

In the game, File and Maday had six and four strikeouts, respectively.

In addition to the superb pitching, Siquerios added: “[Sophomore shortstop] Cassie Baca did a phenomenal job this weekend and I’m really happy for her. She produced very consistent play throughout the four games on defense and offense.”

Baca indeed had a notable weekend.

“Baca hit a home run during the Piedmont game,” Wray said. “We scored five runs in that inning, so we almost ended up mercy-ing them thanks to Cassie.”

Wray said the start of the season was tough within such a large percentage of underclassmen on the team.

“I think our team is unique because we are so underclassmen-heavy, but we have an awesome, really talented freshman class,” Wray said. “We’re utilizing this raw talent and these girls are going to someday become leaders on the team.”

According to Maday, this weekend meant a lot for the Eagles, especially following some tough losses.

“As individuals, we’re all so talented, so it was just a matter of putting that talent together to form a cohesive Emory softball team,” Maday said. “With everyone being so passionate about what we’re doing, we all have the same goals in mind — a national championship — so we just are now making sure that our talent is all on the same page.”

Last season, the Eagles suffered a total of four losses; this year, the team is already at three.

While Wray says this is a bit worrisome, Maday looked on the bright side.

“Those initial losses really inspired us, and made us feel the rest of the season should go up from this point,” Maday said.

The Eagles return home next weekend to play Christopher Newport University (Va.) in four games over Emory’s spring break, scheduled for March 4 at 1 and 3 pm. and March 5 at 12 and 2 p.m.  

During Emory’s softball team’s opening weekend, the Eagles took on Rhodes College (Tenn.) and Averett College (Va.). Despite losing 7-4 to Averett Saturday afternoon, the team managed two wins against Rhodes, winning 6-3 Saturday and sweeping them 2-0 Sunday. The Eagles avenged the loss against Averett Sunday, winning 7-0.

“We came together to a common mentality: this program wins. We decided we’re going to prove to be a part of that tradition for Emory softball,” said sophomore shortstop Cassie Baca. “We decided we would fight with our coach to make it all the way to Oklahoma.”

Despite the one loss, the Eagles otherwise began their season with true excellence. Throughout each game, the team maintained their best play by moving quickly and keeping a solid mental game.

“Our women ended up bouncing back resiliently after a tough loss [Saturday]” said Head Coach Penny Siqueiros. “I’m really proud of how they carried themselves into today, where they had an outstanding performance.”

Although the team was able to make adjustments after their Saturday loss, it was still a shock to the team to lose so early in the season.

“[While the team] made good adjustments from Saturday to Sunday, I don’t think anybody is happy starting so soon with a loss,” said captain and senior pitcher Brittany File. “It’s not what we anticipated.”

In regards to making adjustments, sophomore catcher Lana Herrmann was responsible for multiple heads up defensive plays.

In the top of the second, fourth and sixth innings, Herrmann quickly got the ball where it needed to go when Rhodes attempted a steal, resulting in an additional out during each inning.

According to Siqueiros, freshmen utility player Jessy McLean and utility player Jessie Michael represented the Eagles well this weekend in their regular-season debut.

In Saturday’s Averett game, McLean went 2-4 with a double, home run and RBI. Michael also dominated the Eagles’ batting for the weekend, with a double in Saturday’s Rhodes game and an RBI in the Sunday Rhodes game.

“It was nice to see them immediately go out there and play as a part of our team,” Baca said.

In addition to these new players, File had an impactful day, according to Siqueiros the captain managed to maintain a no-hitter in Sunday’s game against Averett. With the assistance of fellow pitcher Toko Miller, the Eagles’ pitching provided them with a leg up against the competition.

“I saw this weekend how much potential we have as a team,” File said. “This is one of the most talented teams I’ve ever been on.”

The Eagles will travel to Berry College (Ga.) Feb. 18 to face the Vikings at 1 and 3 p.m.. The team will return home Feb. 19 to play against Wesleyan College (Ga.) at 12 and 2 p.m.