Eliot Barrengos, Sports Editor
The College of Wooster softball team was on the brink of losing four consecutive games in a row. After splitting the opening two games of conference competition against Ohio Wesleyan University and sweeping away the lowly Kenyon Owls, the Scots looked primed to fight for an NCAC softball championship throughout the spring. But last Saturday, April 15, 2023, DePauw University knocked the Scots on their back, sweeping away the Friday afternoon doubleheader by two fairly wide margins. Wooster dropped both games by five or more runs.
Saturday proved to be a second chance. With Wittenberg University visiting Galpin Park, the Scots had a crucial chance to reassert themselves on the NCAC circuit. Pitcher Lynsey Deilo ’26, who has been superb this season, had a rare poor performance, faltering to the tune of one and 2/3 innings pitched, surrendered three runs on four hits and two walks. She was relieved by standout Addie Tagg ’23, who did her best to hold back the dominant Wittenberg offense. The Tigers were relentless, ambushing Wooster, for a total of 10 runs on 11 hits; the Scots never had the chance to get the bats going and fell by a final of 10-2.
Wooster needed to find their mojo in game two, as another loss at the hands of a NCAC opponent would cast serious doubt on any chance of competing within the conference. With a building pressure to escape the day with a win, they turned to one of their best, in the form of Rachael Dudziak ’24. Shortstop Stephanie Griffin-Sanchez ’24 commented on the team’s approach going into game two saying “We needed to have a good, balanced mindset knowing we had to win but also playing loose and not putting too much pressure on ourselves… I think we did that perfectly and made the adjustments necessary.”
In need of a stopper, Dudziak stepped up, tossing a gem of a game, going the full seven innings to claim the complete game, and yielding just one run on five hits. The start was reminiscent of the five-inning no hitter Dudziak tossed in early February in non-conference play.
“When I’m pitching well, I’m usually very focussed on the present pitch…It sort of seems like tunnel vision in the moment.. I try to take a breath between each pitch to ground myself, and it is really a mentality of winning every pitch one at a time.”
In the bottom of the third with her teammate mowing down the Wittenberg lineup, Griffin-Sanchez broke the scoreless tie and gave the Scots their first lead of the day by crushing a home run to left center field. The solo shot completely changed the momentum of the afternoon. Sanchez elaborated on her approach saying “I went in with the mindset that I was looking for an inside pitch. Honestly my goal was to just put the ball in play and swing hard. First pitch I took was low for ball one. Second pitch I heard my head coach yell ‘turn on it’ as the pitcher was in her motion so I knew it was going to be inside. Just swung hard and it ended up going out.”
Wooster clung to a 1-0 advantage until the sixth inning when Emma Hetkey ’26 scored on a fielding error and Ella Wolff ’26 singled in another two runs to give the Scots some much needed breathing room. Infielder Julia Jennings ’26 who went 4-4 in game one, and has swung a hot bat as of late, commented on what the team needs to adjust going forward in conference competition: “Especially in conference play, it is important to take it one game at a time.We changed our mindset and started stringing together hits and scoring runs. We are hoping to carry that same mindset through the rest of conference play.”
Aftering salvaging what could have been a truly disastrous weekend late on Saturday afternoon, Wooster will host Denison this upcoming weekend in another heated battle of conference rivals.