The 26-10 Emory softball team picked up three wins in a four-game set against conference rival Case Western Reserve University (Ohio). The Eagles now sit comfortably in second place in the University Athletic Association (UAA) with a 12-4 conference record and are just two games back of Brandeis University (Mass.) for first place.
The Eagles got off to a strong start in the first game of the series, jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning. Freshman outfielder Megan Weisenberg brought in the first run with an RBI single, and a fielder’s choice brought home the second. After each team added a run in the fifth, Emory held a narrow 3-1 lead as the Spartans went to bat needing to score in the seventh inning. The Spartans executed a double steal to score one run and then tied the game with a clutch two-out single to send the game to extra innings. In the ninth, senior shortstop Cassie Baca stepped up to the plate and delivered a go-ahead grand slam to give the Eagles a 7-3 victory in spectacular fashion.
The Eagles’ second game once again showcased the team’s flair for the dramatic. Down 7-1 entering the seventh inning, Emory wasn’t playing up to their high standards on both sides of the ball.
However, as Head Coach Adrianna Baggetta has been preaching all season, the team has a “never give up, never die mentality.”
Down to their last out in the seventh inning, the Eagles put that philosophy into action and strung together eight straight runs to take a 9-7 lead. In the bottom of the seventh, senior pitcher Madeline Maday retired the Spartans to secure the victory.
The third game of the series was another close, high-scoring affair. Each side exploded offensively in the fourth.The Eagles’ six-run inning was quickly followed by a five-run Spartan response. After six innings, Emory held a narrow 8-7 lead. The Eagles once again used their final at-bats productively and added a pair of insurance runs in the top of the seventh. The Spartans had no response this time, and the Eagles won 10-7. With a home run and three additional hits, junior outfielder and pitcher Sami Feller was the star of the game, capping off an electric 11-16 weekend at the plate. Feller, who was awarded UAA Softball Hitter of the Week, attributes her success to the support of her teammates.
“I’m feeling confident,” Feller said. “I’m feeding off my teammates’ energy, and it’s working.”
In stark contrast to the first three games, the fourth game was a pitcher’s duel between the Eagles’ sophomore Madison Schaefer and the Spartan’s Sidney Brannam. Through six innings, neither pitcher allowed more than five hits. However, the Spartans held a slight advantage after a two-run home run in the first inning. Looking for more late-game heroics, the Eagles cut the deficit to one in the seventh inning. Although Emory had runners on the corners, they were unable to tie the game. The Spartans won 3-2.
On April 26 and 27, the Eagles will finish their regular season at Brandeis University (Mass.) for a crucial four-game set that will determine the winner of the UAA. The Eagles will need to win three out the four games in order to capture the UAA title.
Even though Baggetta expects the team to prepare as they do for other games, she admits that this series has more weight to it.
“It’s as close as [we] get to a conference tournament,” Baggetta said. “It’s exciting to see what it will be like on that stage.”