On Feb. 23, the Mules kicked off their season with a strong performance in a doubleheader against the Kean University Cougars.
After losing their first game, the Mules immediately found their rhythm during the first inning of the second game. After quickly loading the bases, Maddy Svenningsen ‘26 drove Sophia Cicchetti ‘24 home with a ground ball to third. Ava Calabrese ‘25 then took a walk after only five pitches to force Samantha Winegard ‘24 home, scoring the Mule’s second run of the inning. Following the runs from her teammates, Justine Bergara ‘25 secured the win by pitching zero walks and allowing only one run. Raya Kunes ‘24 and Bergara helped the Mules stay competitive through game one and eventually win game two.
Coming off of their strong performance against Kean, the Mules look to the Spring Classic in Myrtle Beach to set the tone for the rest of the season. “We started off strong but there are always things to work on. No matter how well we do this season, we need to tip our hats to what we did well but we understand the importance of identifying what we can work on,” said Calabrese.
Echoing Calabrese, Gillian Zack ‘24, an outfielder for the Mules, said, “For the most part we’re keeping everything the same and we’re just building off of the skills from last year.”
Samantha Winegard ‘24 added, “We’re not going in thinking we win automatically but we have confidence and we will continue to try to win.”
A few talented players graduated last year that were integral parts of that 2022 playoff run. This year one senior holds together the team, Sara Fallon ‘23 describes her hopes for the season saying, “It’s been a tough four seasons with COVID, and then last year I was injured and severely sick all the time, so it feels like my first real season but it’s actually my last real season, so I just want to play and have fun and work hard!” Along with Fallon the team is focused on the future. Calabrese, one of the catchers for the Mules said, “We lost a lot of big personalities but what stuck with us the most that has prepared us for this season is that they taught us ‘Berg Softball’ so now we can use that and teach the new generation of players.” Gill added “We have a lot of returning players who saw the field during those big games and now we have great additions. Their talents are going to help us this season.”
In addition to the seniors who have graduated, the softball team has lost a few key players to injury. Jane Banahan ‘24, Kaitlyn Buurman ‘25, and Dani Roban ‘25 all suffered major injuries before the season that kept them from playing in the season opener. Coaching decisions to fill those roles have affected the team but have not dampened the competitive atmosphere. Banahan stressed the importance of “being mentally ready” as well as being physically ready. She said, “we’re doing things with purpose.”
The team’s mental fortitude will prove helpful over the next week of competition. The Mules will face Randolph-Macon in a doubleheader in Ashland, Virginia on Saturday to kick off their trip. Later, they will head to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to start their Spring Classic. Despite the challenges they will face this season, the team is confident in their ability to overcome adversity and succeed.
Fallon says, “I can’t wait to hit the dirt.”