The No. 2-ranked Emory softball team competed at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Championships, The Eagles won the championship without losing a game, raising their overall record to 32-1 and 8-0 in league play. The tournament took place in Altamonte Springs, Fla.
“I am so proud of them to be able to play 14 games in eight days,” Head Coach Penny Siqueiros said. They really buckled down having the right attitude and approach … they just persevered with total success.”
Emory led off the tournament by winning six games in a row.
The Eagles secured the championship by overcoming the University of Rochester Yellowjackets 2-1 in eight innings. In the pitcher’s duel, the Eagles scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth inning when junior Megan Light led off with a double.
Freshman Cortney Sugihara pinch ran for Light, later scoring on a fielder’s choice off the bat of senior Meaghan Schultz. The winning run came in off junior Claire Bailey’s single to center field in the eighth inning.
“The biggest thing is that we are all figuring ourselves out individually,” Siqueiros said. “The familiarity with each other is enhanced … It is like playing a game with your family. It gives us a little more fight.”
The Eagles closed out the tournament by defeating Case Western Reserve University (Ohio), 4 – 0. Freshman pitcher Sydney Carpenter had a masterful performance holding the Spartans to two hits while striking out five.
It is the second time in the past three years and the fourth time overall that Emory has finished with a perfect record in the conference championship. This year’s team joins the 2002, 2003 and 2011 squads as the only Eagles teams to have achieved this feat.
“I think the team really came together and won because of the efforts of every member on the team,” freshman Hannah Sendel said. “Everyone contributed and played hard making it possible for us to be successful.”
The Eagle’s success at the UAA championships was highlighted by the performances of pitchers Carpenter and junior Amanda Kardys.
Carpenter played a key role in Emory’s drive to the championship by going 2-0 and earning two saves. Carpenter did not allow a run in 17 innings of play and struck out 23 opponents while walking only eight.
“My mindset going into the outing was to pitch as hard as I could in order to not let the other team win,” Kardys said.
Providing support for a team ailed by injury, Kardys continued her great season by pitching consistently and effectively. She raised her overall season record to 18-1.
“The crazy part is that Amanda Kardys has carried us for about 15 games,” Siqueiros said. “We put the ball in Amanda Kardys hands over and over again. We literally handed her the ball game after game. She just has done an extraordinary job of throwing the team on the back and saying ‘I’m here for you’. She brought us back to life.”
Other notable performances came from Sendel and senior Lauren Gorodetsky. Gorodetsky enjoyed a solid UAA championship, hitting .588 with 10 hits in 17 plate appearances.
“[I] just want to play my best and give it my all in order to contribute in the best way possible to the team’s success,” Sendel said.
Sendel enjoyed an excellent run in the championship. Coming through in key moments, Sendel batted .471 and led all players with four home runs and 15 runs batted in.
“[Sendel] has some pop. It took a while for her, as a freshman, to get comfortable,” Siqueiros said. “It has been fun to see her develop … cracking home runs left and right. I am very proud of her for developing this comfort level as a freshman. She is not playing like a freshman anymore.”
After playing 14 games in eight days, the main thing the Eagles need to do is rest.
“Rest at this stage is key,” Siqueiros said. “They need time to relax, hang out and recharge; have a mini-spring break before Friday.”
The Eagles resume their season today, Friday, March 22, with a double header at Covenant College (Ga.).
– By Alexander Del Re