By: Samantha Brenner
Playing at home this past weekend, both the Muhlenberg baseball and softball teams played a double header against Franklin and Marshall College.
The Muhlenberg baseball team went into the weekend 1-1, looking to walk away from Franklin and Marshall with an improved record. The team split the games, winning one and losing one.
Relief pitcher Jack Dollinger ‘21 highlights the difficulty of playing a double header. The length forces you to stay present throughout the entirety of the game.
“Doubleheaders are extremely challenging because you have to mentally and physically be in the game for all eighteen innings. As a relief pitcher, you have to be prepared to go in the game at any time during the day whether it is early on in the first game or the end of the second game, Dollinger said.
Losing one game, Dollinger also points out the challenges presented by playing a team like Franklin and Marshall. “F&M is an extremely well-rounded team. They are very solid defensively and don’t make many errors. Also, F&M have multiple pitchers who throw hard and locate their pitches extremely well. Lastly, their lineup is extremely difficult to face because they have a very solid lineup one through nine, and are extremely disciplined at the plate,” said Dollinger.
The Mules left the weekend with hopeful minds. “If we are able to be more consistent and play the way we are capable of playing, we have a chance to win a lot of games this year,” Dollinger said.
As for the difficulty of a COVID season, Dollinger notes the challenges and changes presented by the pandemic. “This year, we were only outside for two weeks before playing these meaningful games. I think we are all just happy to be back on the baseball field and are really giving it our all this year after we have all been through so much over the past year.”
The softball team left the weekend winless, losing both games and falling to 0-6.
Going into the weekend, the softball team knew that Franklin and Marshall would be a hard team to beat. “F&M has always been one of our strongest competitors. They have great hitters up and down their line-up and are very aggressive baserunners. F&M also has a strong pitching staff that relies on junk pitches, like rise balls and curves. We had to practice covering the field efficiently against their slap hitters and jumping on good pitches early in the count,” said Nicole Atkins ‘21.
All games the softball team plays are double headers making this weekend no different. “During my freshman year, we came up with a team motto to ‘DOM1N4TE.’ We focus on staying focused and energized in every one of the 14 innings that we play. To do this, our coaches have created ‘finishers’ that we complete at the end of some of our practices. They are challenges, yet manageable with encouragement from our teammates. Our game plan always stays the same. Always hustle, stay focused, remember the basics and keep the energy high for ourselves and our teammates. It is sort of like a recipe for success to outlast our opponent,” said Atkins.
With the pandemic still in full force, the softball team is still adjusting to new rules and protocols. “COVID has definitely thrown us a ton of curveballs this season, but we did not let it affect our morale. We had 14 freshmen come in this year, which is more than we had [returning]. Because we were not allowed to practice or play together in the fall, it was tough to come back and sort of merge two different teams together. Needless to say, I could not be more proud of how quickly and effortlessly we were able to come together and play as if nothing had changed. We had some of our teammates put into quarantine, so we are really looking forward to being back to our full squad soon,” said Atkins.
Teammate Sarah Raab ‘22 looks forward to the future of the softball team. “We hope to turn our season around from this weekend to the rest of the conference games. There were a lot of positives during Saturday including our pitchers hitting spots and getting lots of strikeouts. We had a lot of good contact, with pinch hitters doing their jobs as well as good defense all around.”
Atkins said, “We are an incredibly talented program with great potential, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish both this season and those that will follow.”