By Greg Dudek
The Bridgewater State University softball team knew it would take time to click this season with 12 freshmen overhauling the roster. The only thing they did not know is how long it would take.
The Lady Bears have found their answer though, as just a little more than halfway through the season, they have won 10 of their last 12 games to improve to 17-9 and 4-0 within the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC).
“I knew it would just take some more game experience for everyone to come together and play as a unit,” said senior starting pitcher and captain Amber White. “The girls are getting used to each other and now know their teammates’ ranges and abilities.”
Bridgewater State had a dramatic weekend in their doubleheader against Westfield State University on Saturday.
In game two on the day, the Bears and the Owls battled into extra innings where it set the stage for some freshmen heroics.
Freshman third baseman Tara McCann got things going in the top of eighth with a double with the game tied 1-1. Freshman designated hitter Jennifer Galavotti then hit a two-run homerun to give the Lady Bears a 3-1 lead and the win.
“We were all fouling off a lot of pitches so I was trying to focus on staying back and driving the ball hard,” Galavotti said. “I just wanted to put the ball in play to drive the runner in from second.”
White secured wins in both games against Westfield State, as in game one, White threw a complete game while only allowing two hits.
White has been dominant all season on the mound, as she is 13-2 with a 0.58 earned run average and was just named MASCAC Softball Pitcher of the Week and Eastern College Athletic Conference Div. III New England Softball Co-Pitcher of the Week .
“I go into every game determined to shut the other teams down,” White said. “I hate giving up any runs, especially in conference games. I know if I go out there and keep the other teams down, we have a much greater chance of winning. I want this team to win the MASCAC so badly, and I know if I go out on the mound and keep other teams from scoring we can do that.”
White was at it again Tuesday, as she lead the Lady Bears to a 7-0 win over Clark College in game one of a doubleheader. But Bridgewater State struggled without White on the mound in game two, as they lost 5-4.
On Wednesday, the Bears continued their strong play with a doubleheader sweep of Babson College.
It hasn’t just been White carrying the team though. While she has performed lights out on the mound, the Bears have received quality play from many of their freshmen.
McCann has turned it on in recent weeks as she is third on the team in batting with a .326 average, to go along with one homerun and 15 runs batted in (RBI).
On Monday, McCann earned MASCAC Softball Rookie of the Week honors for the second straight week.
“I never expected coming into tryouts in the fall that I would be starting at third base or even doing this well,” McCann said. “It does surprise me that I am doing this well in my first season, but this is what I have worked for. I’m glad I was given the chance to do this well, because as a freshman that’s not common.”
Just a few weeks ago, it seemed unlikely the Bears would be in this position due to all their inexperience. But now that they are atop the MASCAC, Bridgewater State is looking to remain there.
“We need to keep up what we have been doing and play as a team, play for each other and pick people up when they’re down,” McCann said. “We need to keep working hard every day in practice and never lose sight of our team goals.”
Bridgewater State will host Salem State University in a MASCAC doubleheader on Saturday. First pitch for game one is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Greg Dudek is The Comment’s Editor-In-Chief. Follow him on Twitter at gdudek10 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.