CARY, N.C./EMORY, Va. – The Emory & Henry College Softball Team picked up where it left off last spring going a perfect 3-0 in its competition day for the fall. The team carried its momentum from this spring's historic 2017 season during which it broke the school record in wins (35) and advanced to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
On Saturday, September 30, the Wasps quickly disposed of their three opponents in the "Avenging Angels Fall Classic" hosted by Meredith College at the Thomas Brooks Sports complex in Cary, North Carolina. E&H took game one over the University of Mount Olive (Division II, Conference Carolinas) 4-0. In the second game, Emory & Henry dominated Greensboro College (Division III, USA South) 9-0 in a game shortened to four and a half innings by the Eight-Run Advantage rule. In the nightcap, the Wasps rolled to a 9-3 victory over Barton College (Division II, Conference Carolinas).
Game One – Emory & Henry 4, Mount Olive 0
Emory & Henry jumped on the Trojans of Mount Olive with four runs in the first inning and held on for the victory. With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the first, junior right fielder Madison McClanahan rilled a single to left field that was misplayed by the Trojan defense. All three runs scored and McClanahan ended up at third base. Freshman second baseman Kyndall Hiatt followed McClanahan's hit with an RBI groundout and that was all of the offense the Wasps needed.
Sophomore Tiffany Cole was masterful in the circle, pitching the complete game shut-out while scattering three hits and two walks on her birthday. The Trojans' best opportunity to score came in the third inning when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Cole nailed down one of her two strike outs to escape the jam. Following the third inning threat, only one more Mount Olive player was able to reach base but she was erased on a double play (shortstop Leah Elswick to second baseman Kyndall Hiatt to first baseman Caley Hodge) to end the game. McClanahan led the way offensively with two hits and two RBI. Sophomore third baseman Lyndsay Boyd added a double while six other Wasps had singles and E&H stole five bases.
Game Two – Emory & Henry 9, Greensboro 0 (five innings)
Freshman Alex Braun provided the highlight of day by pitching a no-hitter against the Pride. Greensboro reached on an error to start the game, and then walked with one out. After a wild pitch, the Pride had two runners in scoring position and appeared to be threatening. However, Braun struck out the next two batters to end the inning and went on to retire the final 14 batters she faced in a row, recording the no-hitter while allowing just one walk and striking out nine.
Offensively, the Wasps racked up 11 hits on their way to scoring four runs in the second inning and five in the fourth inning for the 9-0 win. Freshman left fielder Kendall Varner paced the way on offense going two-for-two with a double, RBI, walk, and two runs scored. Junior first baseman Vangie Borchert added a single, a double and an RBI while sophomore catcher Alex Thomas also had two hits and a RBI. Freshman second baseman Allyson Steadman added a single, a walk, and 2 RBI.
Game Three – Emory & Henry 9, Barton 3
In final game of the evening, Emory & Henry jumped on Barton for five runs in the first inning and never looked back, cruising to a 9-3 victory. Senior shortstop Leah Elswick, junior centerfielder Erin Anderson, and junior catcher Amanda Whitlow each had two hits for the Wasps. Sophomore utility player Caitlyn Yates added a double and two RBI while Varner struck again with a triple and an RBI. Freshman Cameron Derr took care of business in the circle for the Wasps. The freshman flame-thrower racked up 12 strike outs while allowing no earned runs on just three hits and one walk. For the day, the Wasps' pitchers allowed no earned runs and struck out 23 opposing hitters.
Other highlights from the fall season included the annual fall retreat and Emory & Henry World Series as well as the Fifth Annual Alumnae Softball Game. The team enjoyed being honored for their 2017 season at halftime of a Wasps' football game and competed in the "Emory & Henry Softball Olympics" that allowed the team's student-athletes to participate in Ultimate Frisbee, aquatics competitions, kickball, and an Emory & Henry Softball version of the "Amazing Race."
"It's exciting to consider just how good this team can be. I feel like we took the momentum from last season, interchanged a few players, and got back to building an even stronger program," said Head Coach Tommy Forrester, reflecting on the fall. "From the players on the roster to the coaches to the families involved to the alumnae to our donors to our strength & conditioning coaches to our athletic trainers to our administration … everyone involved in our program is committed to excellence and committed to building the best culture and best team that we can have. It's such an honor to be a Wasp and be around such awesome people every day."
-Head Coach Tommy Forrester contributed to this article