Windshields in the parking lot behind the left field fence of the Randolph-Macon softball field were under full assault Saturday as the Yellow Jackets used the long ball seven times, including three times in one inning, to gain a sweep of ODAC rival Emory & Henry by scores of 10-2 and 4-1. The victories extended Randolph-Macon’s winning streak to 15 games, leaving them 4-0 in the ODAC, 19-2 overall.
“I don’t know if you ever sit around as a coach and think, ‘Hey, we can run off the next 15 games,” joked head coach Kevin Proffitt. “I was just telling them, we’re never going to play perfect, we’re always trying to revisit things.”
Their follow-up work is working, and Proffitt believes it begins in the pitcher’s circle, where the Jackets go four deep, but senior starters Heather Lewis (11-1) and Kirsten Dize (6-1) lead the way.
“We’ve gotten consistently, all year long, really good pitching,” Proffitt said. “Lewis and Dize get the majority of the pitches, but the others when they’ve come in have given us quality innings,” referring to sophomore Carly Alford and Jenna Best, a member of the impressive freshman class.
Sophomore shortstop Sharese Jarvis would lead the offensive assault, opening game one with a solo shot in the first. The Jackets plated seven runs in the second, chasing Wasps starter Katie Grimm. Highlights included a three-run triple by Christa Simon, another solo homer by Jarvis, and a single from Best that scored Madison Gilman.
Gilman would wrap up the scoring in the first game, launching a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth for the 10-2 final.
Game two began as a mirror image of game one. This time Amanda Sopko provided the power spark, hitting a first-inning home run to give the Jackets the early 1-0 lead. Randolph-Macon left the bases loaded in the second, but successfully built on the lead in the third when Jarvis hit her third homer of the day, followed by solo shots from Gilman and fellow Patrick Henry graduate Katie Woody. Four batters into the third inning, Emory & Henry starter Kaitlyn Pruitt was done.
The Wasps’ lone tally in the game was on a seventh inning single by Taylor Doss.
Jarvis credited offensive power that spans through the lineup as the main difference between this year’s team as compared to last year.
“Before, the top of our lineup was really strong; we had a few good hitters,” she said. “Now, there’s no missing link. From top to bottom, we’re strong.”
As for Gilman, part of that lineup improvement, she concurs with her head coach about the importance of their pitching in this current winning tide.
“Kristen and Heather have really stepped it up,” Gilman noted, adding she doesn’t feel the 19-2 record, with only four ODAC games has been soft.
“We’ve played some tough teams out of the ODAC in some of the tournaments we’ve been in, and we’ve done well against them. But the ODAC is what matters,” Gilman said.
Randolph-Macon now kicks off the second half of the regular season, a schedule where 16 of their final 20 games are in conference play, but only eight are on the road.
“Along the way, we’ve caught some breaks, which I think is going to happen if you’re going to pull off that many wins in a row,” Proffitt realizes. “But we’ve done a very good job of creating situations which have allowed us to get some wins. We never get in panic mode, even when behind. We always talk about how there’s always a way we can come back and win.”
Proffitt and the Jackets hope to keep finding more ways as an ODAC Championship draws closer and closer.
Randolph-Macon Softball dropped a pair of tightly contested games against Virginia Wesleyan 7-5 and 3-1 Wednesday afternoon moving them to 19-4 and 4-2 in the ODAC. For the first time in program history, R-MC Softball is receiving votes (10) in the NFCA Coaches Poll. The Yellow Jackets return to action Wednesday, April 3 when they host Sweet Briar College for a 3:30 p.m. doubleheader.