March is always a hectic month for Bates. The softball team, however, knows how to begin this crazy month right as they traveled south to Clermont, Florida for a week of intense competition. Instead of trucking through mounds of snow, the Bobcats took advantage of the warm Florida sun and won nine out of the twelve games that they played during the week. This is the best start the women’s softball team has seen since 1994.
“The Florida trip is an essential part of our season and travel experiences are important to the team because not only are we playing a lot of games down here, but we’re also together 24/7 for a week,” says Kirsten Pelletier ’20. “We’re cooking, cleaning, packing coolers, doing school work, and everything else in between which really allows us to develop an amazing team dynamic.”
Before the team started the week, they visited a second grade classroom at Clermont Elementary. While they were helping out, the teacher and her students used a “ten-finger woot-woot!” cheer whenever a hard question was answered correctly. The team took this saying under their wing during the rest of their time in Florida.
“When someone on the team gets a good hit, or makes a great play, we award them with a “ten-finger woot-woot!” Pelletier explains.
Tuesday, March 6 marked the first day of the week-long series and the Bobcats immediately started with a “ten-finger woot-woot!” During their first game against North Central University, Pelletier threw the team’s first no-hitter since 2013 to drive Bates to win 6-0. She struck out a career-high eleven batters. The Bobcats also tallied seven hits during this game with the first-years making impressive strides. Caroline Bass ’21 went 2-2 with a run scored, walk, and stolen base and Mary Colette ’21 went 2-3 at the plate.
“The no-hitter I threw was an awesome experience,” says Pelletier. “I have worked hard all offseason, and to see results in the first game was an amazing feeling.”
On the same day the Bobcats fell 7-2 to Dominican University. Julia Panepinto ’20 and Andrea Russo ’19 each recorded a pair of hits and RBI to put Bates on the board.
The Bobcats won all of the games that they played on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Wednesday they won 1-0 against Penn State Brandywine and 5-4 against New England College. During the win against Penn State Brandywine, Pelletier allowed just two hits and struck out eight batters. On the same day, the Bobcats defeated Mitchell 9-1. Payton Buxton ’21 pitched a complete game and did not allow a single run after the first inning. The Bobcats scored five times in the third inning with Buxton scoring twice and driving in two runs.
Pelletier continued her dominance on Thursday, March 8 when she threw a complete game three-hitter and struck out seven batters. Mimi Crowley ’19 and Buxton both had two hits and Russo scored two runs. All of these impressive feats helped the Bobcats defeat Bridgewater State 3-1. Moreover, Buxton hit her first career home-run to help the Bobcats win a game against New England College with a score 5-4 that same day. Over the course of both games, runs were scored by Russo and Buxton.
Friday consisted of a tight win against Northwestern (Minn.) and a complete blowout against Wheelock. When the Bobcats played Northwestern, Pelletier threw another complete game with nine strikeouts and no walks. Russo, Panepinto, and Buxton each recorded two hits to help the Bobcats rise 4-3. Later that same day, Bates defeated Wheelock 15-1 as the Bobcats scored 10 runs in the sixth inning. Jevan Sandhu ’21 allowed just one run during the game and struck out two batters.
To end the week, on Saturday March 10, the Bobcats defeated Gordon College 12-6 and lost to UMass Dartmouth 2-0. During the win against Gordon, every Bates batter tallied at least one hit. Buxton threw four shutout innings, striking out five batters and allowing only one hit. Pelletier pitched the entire game against UMass Dartmouth, allowing eight hits and striking out two batters. Finally, on Sunday the Bobcats defeated Ripton 7-1 and lost to Minnesota-Morris 6-4.
Given their impressive week in the Florida, the Bobcats are eager to have this level of intensity be consistent through the rest of the season. “In general, we want to give it our all in every moment of every game. As a young team, our main focus is to compete and develop the program,” explains Russo.