Softball Gives Wesleyan its Third-Ever NESCAC Tourney Title

Wesleyan softball joins the 2005 men's soccer team and 2009 men's lacrosse team as NESCAC titlists. The Cardinals take on Kean University in the NCAA first-round game May 14. (Photo by Brian Katten)

The softball team claimed a NESCAC tournament title and automatic bid to the NCAA championship May 14. Recovering from a disappointing 5-2 loss to Bowdoin in a potential title game, the Cardinals came back to trounce Bowdoin 10-1.

Wesleyan softball, coached by Jen Lane, adjunct associate professor of physical education, joins the 2005 men’s soccer team and 2009 men’s lacrosse team as NESCAC titlists. The Cardinals will play Kean University of New Jersey in the NCAA first-round game May 14 at Rhode Island College (R.I.C.).

Needing one win on the final day (Sun., May 9) of the NESCAC Championship at Williams, Wesleyan used an eight-run outburst to break a 0-0 tie in the bottom of the third inning and went on for a 10-1 victory in five innings over Bowdoin in the deciding game. The win gave softball its first-ever NESCAC crown after a pair of runner-up finishes in 2008 and 2009.

Softball team tri-captain Taylor Zavadsky '10 had a grand slam in the title-clinching win. (Photo by Ron Bernstein P'11)

Pitchers Meaghan Dendy ’10, who also hit .692 during the tournament and was named NESCAC Player of the Week, and Dana Levy ’12 alternated innings as they did in the victory vs. Middlebury that clinched a NESCAC tournament berth, and had a combined no-hitter going through three innings of the title game. Wesleyan then put the game away with eight hits and eight runs in its half of the 3rd. Dendy, who doubled, scored the opening run on an infield error and Talia Bernstein ’11 followed with an RBI single. It quickly became 6-0 when Taylor Zavadsky ’10 unloaded a blast to left for a grand slam. Tori Redding’13 closed out the frame with a two-run single.

When Sam Epstein ’12 sent a shot over the fence just inside the foul pole in the 4th inning, it gave Wesleyan a 10-run cushion and broke a five-way tie for most homers in a season. It was her school-record sixth this year. Bowdoin did get a run in the 5th but with Dendy and Levy combining for a three-hitter, it didn’t prevent the contest from ending after five innings under the mercy rule. The nine-run differential tied the NESCAC record for largest margin of victory in a softball championship game.

Wesleyan was denied an earlier chance at the title when the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead into the 6th inning of the first game Sunday. Bowdoin scored four runs to grab a 5-2 lead and held on though the Cardinals got the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning.

Wesleyan has established numerous individual and team records thus far, upon which it will be adding in the NCAAs. As a team, the 2010 Cardinals have collected more wins (23), hits (376), runs (263), RBI (220), doubles (66) and homers (21) than any previous squad. Individually, Dendy set the mark for seasonal RBI (34) and career hits (185) and doubles (30) while she and Bernstein share the seasonal doubles mark (11) and Epstein has the home run figure (6). On the mound, Dendy has improved her career-record wins to 39.

The NCAA regional at R.I.C. features six teams – No. 1 TCNJ (a team Wesleyan defeated in Florida), No. 2 Moravian, No. 3 Kean, No. 4 Wesleyan, No. 5 Neumann and No. 6 Baruch. The winner of the regional advances to the NCAA Division III World Series at Wisconsin-Eau Claire.