Bates Bobcast Episode 142: Baseball sweeps its way to the NESCAC Championships
The Bates baseball team swept Bowdoin on Saturday to qualify for the four-team double elimination NESCAC Championships, taking place this Friday-Sunday in Waterville. Plus, the rowing teams combined to win the New England Championships points title and we look back at the softball season. All that and more, on the Bates Bobcast!
Interviews this episode:
- 1:16 -- Justin Foley '19, Baseball (NESCAC Pitcher of the Week).
- 3:55 -- Christian Beal '21, Baseball (Male Bobcat of the Week).
- 12:45 -- Elizabeth Folsom '21, Women's Rowing Coxswain (WV8 -- Female Bobcats of the Week).
- 18:49 -- Sarah Rothmann '19, Women's Track and Field captain.
- 26:20 -- McKell Barnes, Head Coach, Softball.
Aaron: This is the Bates Bobcast. Our weekly podcast where we take a look at the week that was, in Bates athletics. My name is Aaron Morse and this week we’re gearing up for the four-team double elimination NESCAC Baseball Championships, which the Bobcats qualified for, for the third straight season. Plus, the rowing teams combined to take the points title at the New England Championships and track and field both recorded top-10 performances at New Englands. All that and more, coming up, on the Bates Bobcast!
Aaron: The Bates baseball team swept Bowdoin in a Saturday doubleheader, improving to 9-3 in NESCAC East play this season. It’s the Bobcats’ best record within the division in program history. Now, the Bobcats head to Waterville to take on Williams Friday in the NESCAC tournament. First pitch is set for 2:30pm. After the Bobcats swept Bowdoin, the NESCAC named senior Justin Foley the conference pitcher of the week. He shut out the Polar Bears in a seven-inning complete game four-hitter in game one, officially clinching a playoff bid for Bates.
Aaron: What was your reaction when coach told you, you were going game one today?
Justin: I thought that he just wanted to maybe switch it up get a different look because Nolan pitched against these guys the first time we faced them. And I had a decent outing last weekend, so I felt like maybe I'm just going to go with the flow here.
Aaron: And as a senior I mean, obviously you... clearly you embraced the opportunity to get another complete game and take the team into the postseason, right?
Justin: Yeah, no, I try to thrive for this stuff. Like I love pitching the whole game, I love the spotlight, I love the pressure. Like I said the other day like if I could... I don't love being reliever but if I could come in bases loaded, no outs I'd love that, so the more pressure the better.
Aaron: What was working for you today?
Justin: Locating my fastballs and then combination of curveball and slider.
Aaron: So this team obviously keeps it pretty loose, everyone, you know seems like it's a really nice atmosphere isn't?
Justin: Yeah, we definitely mess around a little bit. We have a good time whenever we can, so.
Aaron: What does it mean to you for a second time in your career to sweep Bowdoin and Colby in the same season?
Justin: I mean, coming from football, like they really emphasize the CBB, so I mean, it's big deal still. It's nice to be the best team in Maine, any time we can come out and prove ourselves as the most dominant team around, that's what we want to do.
Aaron: What are your thoughts on the NESCAC tournament coming up?
Justin: We're back for the third time and we all have hungry stomachs because we're sick of losing the first two games, so I think things will be different, this bond that we have as a team this year is definitely stronger than it's been. And we have all the pieces, we got hitting, we got fielding, we got pitchers, I think we're going to do some damage.
Aaron: Speaking about that, how about Christian Beal this transfer coming in and making a big impact, what's he been like?
Justin: He's a great addition to the team. I mean, we've had a couple times we'd like to try to fill an outfield but this kid came in, he's flying around, he's laying out, he's making every catch, he's hitting bombs, doubles, stealing bags. I mean, like, talk about a dream come true or like a Christmas present, you know?
Aaron: Right. Well, your thoughts on the season so far and, you know, the hopes for the near future here next week?
Justin: Season has been fun, it's gone by fast. I'm really just trying to get every last drop out of it that I can. Not looking at the end even though the end is the goal because that's where the tournament is, but I think we have a great shot at this tournament. And if we keep playing the caliber baseball we're playing right now, people should watch out for us.
Aaron: Foley is on a roll, having thrown 14 consecutive scoreless innings. On offense, sophomore Christian Beal went 6-8 at the plate with five runs scored, a double, a triple, two RBIs, a walk and a stolen base. He is hitting a team-leading .371 on the season and Christian Beal is our Male Bobcat of the Week!
Aaron: Christian, let's talk a little bit about your background. First of all growing up in Illinois, when did you start getting into baseball, were you playing T-ball like everyone else when you were a young kid, and when did you first realize, hey, I could probably play this in college?
Christian: Well, I started playing young, four years old with basketball, both started playing both of them with my uncle, my grandpa and my dad. And my mom was part of that entire way, so growing up, you know, baseball was spring, basketball was winter, and I couldn't wait to baseball season I always kind of had a love of baseball more than basketball. And when I got to high school I kind of made sure that I just want to focus on one which is baseball. And growing up in Illinois, you know, the weather's not always good, it's kind of similar to Maine. So I was taught kind of how to play in the cold. And you know, playing in Maine is not that big of a difference playing in Illinois, so I kind of I'm used to that
Aaron: In high school, were you thinking about playing in college or were you just enjoying the moment playing in high school, at the time?
Christian: No, I mean, college was always on the back of my mind, I wanted to play as long as I can. And ever since growing up my goal was to play college baseball and I'm blessed enough to achieve that here at Bates and it's been a blessing so far.
Aaron: Have you always been the man patrolling center field?
Christian: No, I actually played infield my first two years of high school and then my junior year, I moved to outfield and kind of as years carried on, me in the outfield I've kind of learned it. It's my fourth year now... Right, yeah, it's my fourth year since playing it and I've kind of learned kind of how to patrol different aspects of it. My first jumps got better every year, my first step, reading balls has gotten better. My speed kind of always allowed me to make up for, you know, miss jumps and miss timed jumps going for balls, but in every year I learn more and more about the position. And I'm blessed to be able to go out there and patrol center field.
Aaron: You mentioned when we talked before but you talked about how like you played for Coach Martin in Europe after your senior year of high school, how did that all happen?
Christian: Yeah, so a program called Planet Baseball, I got the chance to meet coach Martin and we played in Europe, we went to Czech Republic, Munich, Germany, and Barcelona. So three different series, three games each and it was just a blessing. I mean, I know a lot of kids would love to do it, and when the opportunity arose, I jumped on it. So I got to... actually I put in the state championship game in Illinois, one weekend and next week I left to go to Europe, and it was just amazing. So I spent the entire June playing baseball and you get to travel the world touring, and playing baseball it's honestly a beautiful dream come true.
Aaron: Awesome. Now you originally for one year went to Division One school in Miami, Ohio now you're here at Bates getting to play Division Three, you know, making that transition you obviously mentioned you played for Coach Martin in Europe, so that was comfortable. What else influenced maybe you wanting to come to Bates?
Christian: Coach Martin played a big influence, I'm not going to deny that. But, you know, just kind of the family aspect here. You know, when I... I got to talk to the players before I came here, I want to be on a team where it was a family, everybody loved each other, wanted to be... you know, you want to go to work with each other every day, and that's what we do here at Bates. We're excited, I know you came to a practice. We're excited, we really get on each other, but it's that family aspect that really was a final deal breaker for me. When I met, and had lunch with each of the players, which I know a lot of recruits do, you know that's important. You know every player has a big influence on you when you step foot on campus, and then also just the surrounding, the small atmosphere that close knit group is important to me. And again when I came here in the fall they welcomed me with open arms, and that was important, and making the change easy for me.
Aaron: Every NESCAC school, you know, academics are a big focus, what's the transition been like because I'm not going to say from high school but from you know, maybe the experience at Miami and now here from an academic perspective?
Christian: It's different, it's different, a lot more essays and written word here, but I love it honestly. You know my friends would help me out, if I needed help. But teachers are amazing here, and you know office hours are huge here, so if I have any questions, I automatically go in there and they help me out, which is I think a little different than Miami. I think teachers here a little more hands on deck, and willing to help out students, that's not really to talk bad about Miami but just to talk about how Bates is great. So they've really helped out, I haven't really missed a beat there, and you know, it's been honestly great there too.
Aaron: We touched on this a little bit before but you obviously... seeing you play out there, you have, you know, a great passion for the game, a lot of excitement. Coach Martin is says he he loves that, maybe reel in a little bit sometimes but how do you kind of balance that I guess?
Christian: Honestly, it's tough to balance it because you know, I play with the same heart, the same passion whether it's in practice or game no matter, I want to take with the same energy every day. But yeah, you know, he makes me control it a little bit. I know I get frustrated sometimes out there, I try to keep it in the dugout so, you know, I don't show any negative energy on the field. That's kind of one of the things that are important to me, I want to show all positive energy on the field, whether it be screaming, you know, dancing, or maybe having fun. It's all because I play hard. And I want to keep all the positive stuff in the field and all the negative stuff... because it's baseball, you're going to... you know, you fail a lot. I want to keep all negative stuff in the dugout in the locker room or everything like that, because you know, it brings out...
Christian: But it's not just me, I think that everybody in this team brings that passion. And that's what makes us special. That's kind of what makes us the hard... The blue collar, hard working team that we are and it allows us to go back to NESCAC Championships this year just because we all play with that passion, we all play with that energy. And we're all that emotional team that, you know, when we're winning, it's good. And then when we're losing, we've had kind of trouble this year, letting that go. But right now, you know, we play hard, and I think any team that comes in knows that they're going to get a hard fought battle, when they go against us. This is what our Ccach preaches every single day.
Aaron: You touched on the family aspect of Bates when I interviewed you before on camera, you talked about how your mom had a big influence on your passion for the game and everything. How did family influence you kind of growing up and now moving into college?
Christian: Well, I grew up in a single parent household with my mom, and you know, you learn a lot from that, you know, growing up. So when you talk about passion, and just attitude towards life, my mom has a big influence on that. Whether it be you know, you want to wake up every day with a smile on your face, and that's kind of what she told me since I was six years old, and whether you're in the classroom or playing baseball, you do it the right way. You do it with hard work and dedication, nothing is going to be given to you and that's kind of how I approach baseball, which is... I think guys can see on the field is.... You know, and nothing is given to me out there, and that's kind of what my family especially my mom taught me growing up.
Christian: She's at almost every game, my grandpa and my mom, they fly switch off weekends, so they haven't really missed a beat this year, or they just watch at home, you know, I kind of pray before I begin, that I make her proud, because that's the most important thing for me, is to make my mom proud.
Aaron: Awesome. So you got the double elimination NESCAC tournament coming up this weekend. What are your thoughts on this? You know, you've only had one practice since the big sweep of Bowdoin, but it all comes down to this kind of right?
Christian: Yeah, this is a big week for us. I know Coach Martin touched on it yesterday. This is a big week of preparation for us. So you know, we're locked in from yesterday, on to our area of practice, making sure that we make the correct strides to prepare for Friday because that's a good team we're facing, it'll be a fast paced baseball game because I know they can hit, I know we can hit. So I'm looking forward to it. I know that we could either... I think the maximum amount of games we play is six games or something like that, that's maximum amount of games.
Aaron: Kind of, yeah.
Christian: So we have to be prepared to play a good amount of games this weekend, be focused every single pitch. And I think that's the biggest thing is getting our minds mentally prepared for doing... I know we will be, but this is why Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are such big days. You know, yeah, we won last week we swept them, but that's in the past. And Coach Martin does a good job of preaching, you know, when we woke up Monday, it's a whole different ballgame. You know, we have different goals to fill for this week. And we have to make sure that we do it, and we make strides every day to fill those goals this week.
Aaron: Great. Well, any other thoughts on this season so far and what it's meant to you, your first year here on the Bates campus?
Christian: It's meant a lot to me. I mean, honestly, you know, I didn't know... After last year, I didn't know where I'd be, if I would even play baseball anymore. You know, I wanted to obviously, and I made sure that I could, but I mean, honestly, I didn't know, and to be these last couple of months here, and during the spring season, and even the fall, have been special here. And I just can't thank the team, Jack, Simon, the seniors for really welcoming me, opening their arms here and bringing me part of this family because we got a good family and that's what allows us to win ballgames, so it's just been awesome.
Aaron: Awesome Christian Beal Male Bobcat of the Week. Thanks so much.
Christian: Thank you, I appreciate it.
Aaron: The rowing teams combined to win the team points title at the New England Championships on Saturday, with the men finishing 3rd out of 24 schools and the women finishing first. The men’s first varsity eight almost took home the gold medal, finishing a very close second to Wesleyan. Meanwhile, the men’s second varsity eight did claim the gold, beating runner-up Boston College by more than two seconds.
Aaron: On the women’s side, all three varsity eight boats won their grand finals, with the first varsity eight winning its fifth consecutive New England title. Bates outraced runner-up WPI by nearly seven seconds, an open water victory. The first varsity eight is comprised of stroke senior captain Lena Rintell, junior Hannah Fitts, sophomore Sally Harris Porter, sophomore Hannah Beams, sophomore Catharine Berry-Toon, junior Grace Smith, junior Emma Wheeler and bow sophomore Grace Bake. And their coxswain sophomore Liza Folsom joined the Bobcast.
Aaron: Liza Folsom with us here on the Bobcast, women's rowing 1V the Female Bobcats of the Week here after another New England title. I know coming in obviously you'd raced WPI previously, they'd gotten you by just a hair and this time though you win by open water. What was the difference, you noticed from the boat just going down, you know, the lake there this time around?
Liza: Yeah, we were definitely a lot more ready, we hadn't been on the water when we raced them before. And so not only did we get to practice on the water, but we got to think more about our race plan, and how we wanted to approach it rather than just in our previous races when we would get on the water for the race, be on the water for 30 minutes, and then... Though we had like several weeks of practice this time, so that definitely made a big difference.
Aaron: Did the team see it as somewhat of a statement that you know, Bates is still the number one here in not only New England but in the country at this point?
Liza: I mean, I think it definitely helped us feel that way, but we still haven't raced Ithaca and a couple other teams so. But yeah, it felt good.
Aaron: What's the environment like at New England maybe compared to other Regattas?
Liza: It's a lot bigger, a lot bigger compared to like Presidents Cup last weekend when it was just us, Colby, Bowdoin and UMaine but it's super exciting and makes it like much more fun to race. And definitely you get a little bit more stress because of the people, and there's like a big jumbotron, and then awards sitting everywhere, so it makes it a little bit more stressful but also more exciting at the same time.
Aaron: I saw they did the celebratory throw you in the water as a coxswain. How much do you look forward or maybe dread that?
Liza: I guess I look forward to it because of what it means, but It was so cold this time. Yeah, but it was fun.
Aaron: What's the boat like, what's the 1V like this year? Obviously, you know, you got similar roles from last year, but some new ones as well.
Liza: Yeah, we have five sophomores, including me and then two juniors and a senior. So we're... I don't know still a young boat but it's kind of weird not having a freshman. I guess obviously I'm coming from a different perspective not being a freshman anymore, but I don't know, it's cool that we're all a little bit older I guess but... Yeah, I don't know it's fun, we're all like excited to go fast, and... Yeah it's exciting, but I think we keep surprising ourselves by what we can do.
Aaron: Well, and the one senior is Lena Rintell, right? And she's at the stroke position at this point and so I know... I remember when she was a first-year, she was at the stroke position in the 1V, so she's been doing this for a while. That must be nice to have someone like that with that experience?
Liza: Yeah, no, she's the best, I can tell her whatever rate she needs to hit, whatever she needs to do, she'll just do it so.
Aaron: So National Invitational Rowing Championships coming up this Sunday, how do those compare to New England just based on your experience maybe last year and whatnot?
Liza: We found them pretty similar the big difference for us is that Ithaca comes to this one and not New England and they're really good too, but I guess like Regatta-wise they're very similar like the same like heat and final-
Aaron: Same course, isn't it?
Liza: Yeah, same course, a lot of its similar, it's just the club teams aren't there so like for example, Bowdoin won't be there this weekend, so like our four won't race them but... Yeah, it is very similar though, same structure, same course but-
Aaron: Is it almost a feeling of like deja vu like wait, we just did this?
Liza: A little bit, I think that's because of like where it is but it's kind of comforting to have that because you did it the week before and it went well this weekend. So I think it'll help us feel more confident coming into this weekend.
Aaron: So as a sophomore now as a coxswain, what have you learned from last year's experience that you're applying to this year in terms of what it takes to succeed at this level and whatnot?
Liza: Yeah, I think I definitely learned a lot last year just like course wise, and one thing that I think I've been doing more this year is like talking to the boat off the water, and just like learning what to say to them, and how to create like a good culture within the boat, which I'm still working on to do. But I don't know, I think this year I've also been thinking a lot more about like things off the water, not just on the water, what I'm saying in the boat.
Aaron: Great, and then obviously, you know I talked to Peter and he said that there's about 11 rowers who could all be in that 1V, and so there's a lot of depth on this team, what's that like? You know because occasionally I'm sure you'll have other people step into the 1V, other people leaving and whatnot.
Liza: Yeah, it's awesome, we'll be in practice like three boats across and I'll look over the 2V, or the 3V like they look like they could be 1Vs almost like... Yeah, it's really cool having that many people and it definitely keeps the team competitive but at the same time, everyone just wants to go fast no matter what happens so.
Aaron: Great, what are your thoughts on New Englands, and what you're looking forward to these next two Regattas coming up here?
Liza: Yeah, I'm super excited. It'll be super fun racing new people, and we've just been getting better every practice I think so. It'll be exciting to see what we can do and how we will have improved from last weekend to this weekend.
Aaron: All right, Liza Folsom, the coxswain for the women's first varsity eight, fifth consecutive New England gold medal there. Thanks so much.
Liza: Thank you.
Aaron: The men’s track and field team finished sixth out of 32 teams at the New England Division III Track and Field Championships over the weekend. Sophomore John Rex finished second in the hammer throw, first-year Bart Rust placed second in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and junior captain Brendan Donahue won the New England championship in the decathlon with a career-best 6,301 points.
Aaron: In women’s track and field, senior captain Ayden Eickhoff won the New England championship in the 800-meter run, senior Katie Barker placed second in the 5,000 meters and the Bobcats placed ninth out of 34 teams at New Englands. Bates also took second place in the 4x800 relay, as first-year Mary Corcoran, senior captain Sarah Rothmann, sophomore So Kim and Eickhoff combined on a time of 9:15.32. The 4 by 800 is not an event that’s held at nationals, so this weekend’s Open New Englands is the last chance for the Bobcats to break the program record. Rothmann, who has made her mark on and off the track during her time at Bates, joined the Bobcast this week to discuss her time here and what lies ahead.
Sarah: 4 by 8 has always been a really special event to me because it's a time where mid-distance runners can really come together and channel in an event that we can all tackle and do well with because that's what we trained for. And so this weekend was no different, and it was really incredible being a part of the four by eight, where Ayden Eickhoff was the anchor and I got to work with a freshman, and a sophomore, who we all trained together, and we can run a solid time. So it was an event, that I knew that we could do well, we just had to put the pieces there and we were just always in the race. So it was... Mary had a very strong start as a freshman, that was also like really impressive because being the startup at a relay is no small feat.
Sarah: And I took the baton from her, and kind of just kept in the race, and So did a fantastic job, and then just watching Ayden finish any race is pretty incredible. So that just really... It meant a lot to all do really well together, and felt as though we all contributed.
Aaron: Great. So you've touched on, Mary Corcoran a first-year, So Kim a sophomore, what are those two like, younger athletes and So, obviously, plays soccer here as well?
Sarah: Yeah, those athletes they're really, really great. And they're also just really willing to learn and work with us like I run 200s and 150s with them, and they see that's not always my strongest interval to keep training with, but they work with me. And like we all... like they see, no matter the age, we can all work together, and really come together for a pretty fantastic relay. So it's just nice to kind of almost put aside the age and just really channel in our talents.
Aaron: What's the experience been like being one of the captains this year?
Sarah: It's been an experience I'll never forget, and it's one that I keep on learning, and learning about. It's nice that it doesn't just fall from the hours from 4:15 p.m. to 06:00 p.m. Being a captain is just like an all day thing and one that I'm happy to take on, I've had first-years come up to me and ask about school, or ask about life. And I just always feel as though like when we are able to talk about those aspects of Bates it makes our athletics experience that much stronger. So it's really rewarding to see all those kinds of parts come together.
Aaron: So the four by eight I understand not a national event, but you got a goal here, right? That school record, where are you and in terms of that?
Sarah: After we finished our relay this weekend, Jay came up to us said, we were third on the list and we're within five seconds of that record. And I remember Mary and I, we're the ones that were fresh for the four by eight, and we were kind of just joking like, oh, this could be our last race, we're kind of exhausted. But when you're in the race and you see how close and how tangible a goal can be, it kind of drives you that much closer. So yes, it's not a national event, but it's an event that we can still do really well and feel really proud of at the end of the day. I think that's something that we could definitely achieve.
Aaron: Well, Sarah you know, you being a senior now, right? You've been involved with so much here at Bates what's the experience been like getting your hand in many different things outside of track and field as well like you're the editor in chief of the Bates Student for instance?
Sarah: Yeah, being editor in chief of the Bates Student has been an experience that my teammates have been so supportive. I remember last year, I was sports editor at one point, all my writers were from the track team. And a lot of them are STEM majors and don't want to write, but they still write because they know I need help. So that really meant a lot to me and like this year just talking through articles with my team, and like, if I ever had a really late night in the newsroom, people will check in with me, and make sure I was getting sleep. And just for me also like being a part of the newspaper is a chance for us to kind of write about our experiences, and write our ideas, and share our stories of others with the Bates student body. And it's chance for me to kind of step outside that role as a runner and as almost like a teacher helping out students kind of learn about different talents that they didn't know that they had.
Aaron: Great. Well, graduation coming up very soon, obviously. What are your thoughts right now on post college stuff?
Sarah: Yeah, so next year I'm going to be teaching English in the Czech Republic, it's a country I don't know the language, I don't know what that's going to look like, but I also just know that my experiences here at Bates have prepped me in a way that I could never imagine and that I will always be grateful. So yes, it's something different, but I'm very excited for that next chapter, and it's weird thinking that this four by eight could be my last time on the track. But also, part of me knows that it won't be, and I will be able to find a way to kind of continue running, continue establishing that team even if I am abroad in a country where I don't speak the language, I can use running as a way to get... to establish that community that I've kind of grown to love here at Bates.
Aaron: So teaching English in a country where you don't speak their language. How does that go? How do you do that?
Sarah: Yeah, that's a good question. So I'm going to have a mentor who speaks English, she's going to kind of guide me through that process. And my class, they do know English, they're 11 to 19 year olds, so they do know the language and it's going to be a matter of me kind of just taking that step and being honest with my students, say that I'm learning this along with you. I think from the get-go establishing that trust and that understanding will make that experience that much, not easier, but more manageable and more... so that I can kind of dive into with more flexibility and openness to kind of keep learning and growing. So I think it'll be exciting.
Aaron: Awesome. And then, you know, looking back at your experience of Bates so far, what are some classes that have really stood out to you that really made an impact, you think?
Sarah: Definitely, this goes back to my freshman year, but I took a journalism course, with practitioner Peter Moore. And that class... like at Bates here, we don't have a journalism major but that class, he brought in guest speakers from Sports Illustrated and Men's Health, and I learned how to write on deadline every single day. It was exhausting, it was also really rewarding, and I really got to speak to students that I would have never had a chance to meet, and really hear their stories and write them down. And I really just... that kind of... that class taught me to take other courses where I wouldn't necessarily step outside... be able to step outside of my comfort zone. Another class is last short term, I went to London, I studied Shakespeare and that's an experience that I'll never forget and one that I'll always value and see as an opportunity for me to keep on growing and taking risks.
Sarah: There I studied Shakespeare at the Globe in London like, it was crazy. And then my classroom was a British Museum. And just an experience that I wouldn't necessarily have had... been able to have at another institution and one that I'll always value.
Aaron: Terrific. It seems like you might be someone who might be able to coach track down the road. Is that something you've thought about?
Sarah: Yeah, definitely. I definitely... like even just as I was saying, this is my 24th season of running. I've been running cross country and track since my freshman year of high school. And I feel like as though I know the sport, and I do love teaching, and I love how running is kind of always been that rock for me and my educational experiences and one that I want to make the rock for my students. So coaching is something I want to keep learning about, and I think that's something that I can do next year abroad with my students, and kind of establish that trust with them. And show them an aspect of life outside of the classroom, where we can kind of get to know each other and have physical goals that we can reach together. So yes, coaching is something that I want to pursue.
Aaron: Awesome. Well, Sarah Rothmann competing in the four by 800 at the open New Englands this weekend trying to set that school record. I wish you the best of luck and thanks so much for joining us on the Bobcast. Appreciate it.
Sarah: Thank you.
Aaron: After beating UMaine-Farmington 12-0 on Wednesday, the Bates softball team fell to No. 2 nationally ranked Williams in the NESCAC quarterfinals on Friday, and into Saturday morning, by a score of 6-2. The game was suspended on account of darkness Friday night and resumed the following day. Bates went toe-to-toe with the Ephs before six unearned runs crossed the plate in the bottom of the fifth. Head Coach McKell Barnes looks back on the season.
Aaron: Coach Barnes first of all the team obviously kind of rough start down there in Florida, but it seems like you bounced back really throughout the rest of the season, kind of came together, a young team, what were your overall thoughts about the way this team eventually came together and really produce another solid season for Bates?
McKell: Yeah, I... you know, we knew going into this season that we were super young and they're always going to be question marks on how fast can, you know, the first-years transition to college softball and you know how fast can they acclimate? And so we knew that there were going to be question marks, and I think down in Florida you know we had a couple tough losses to kick off our season, and I think that potentially could have shaken some confidence. And that's why we saw, you know, the three and nine record down in Florida. Now with that all being said, we purposefully scheduled a much tougher Florida schedule to help prep us for our NESCAC weekends.
McKell: So we knew going down that it was going to be more difficult. I certainly don't think that our three and nine record down in Florida was in any way indicative of what kind of team that we were. And I think going through some of those growing pains really did help prep us for some tough conference play where, you know, we had some tough losses, and we had some great wins. And, you know, certainly having that experience was really, really beneficial. But, you know, I could not be more proud of this team, being as young as we are, and having the leadership that we did have, albeit, you know, three total upperclassman between the junior and senior class combined you know we put together a good season. And I really just think that we just scratched the surface of what's to come.
Aaron: Well, speaking of that... I mean you had the NESCAC Tournament game, right? I mean Williams that was the number two team in the country it was ranked wise in the polls so. Obviously, the team was neck and neck with them for most of the game, right?
McKell: Yeah, you know, this is the second time that I really feel strongly like we outplayed Williams, we had a tough two-one loss in regular season. You know, they walked off in the bottom of the seventh inning there, and we played them hard this past Friday night, Saturday morning. You know, we had one inning get away from us, and that happened to be the difference maker, and I think, you know, being... You know, we had some tough plays there that I think, you know, we would obviously like back, but I also think that above all else, those will be plays that our team especially the youth in our team can learn from, and they won't make those same mistakes again.
McKell: And so it's kind of one of those things you know, never deprive yourself of learning things the hard way, and I think playing Williams number two in the country ranked neck and neck and going 0-0 into the fifth with two outs, so we get the third out have a tough catcher's interference call that started you know, the little bit of the down spiral there, was a tough way to close out that game but could not be more proud. You know, we were delayed so we had to come back Saturday morning, and we shut them down defensively. Eliza McNulty hits a bomb to center field and we take that day those two innings and win that day two to nothing, ended up being overall, you know, a six-two loss but holy smokes I mean, I certainly think we had them very nervous, and I think everyone was kind of rooting for us to really put it to them.
Aaron: Well how about Eliza McNulty coming on strong there late, a couple home runs to close out the season, right?
McKell: Yeah you know I think she finished the season I know she went three for three against UMF, went two for two and then a walk against Williams, puts it together some really great at bats against Bowdoin and Trinity. You know that's just a testament to the work that she was able to put in I think short term gives us a little bit more flexibility where we can get some more individual work in. And her confidence was glowing, and it was evident, and she took that up to bat with her, and what a way to finish the season.
Aaron: Right. Well, you... Obviously NESCAC rules Division Three, NCAA, in a way you can't really work with the players over the off-season, so what do you tell them, what to do over the summer? Like what's the guidance here to make sure you know, the strong finish of the season for many of them will carry over up you know, a little less than a year from now, I guess?
McKell: For sure you know, obviously that's a massive challenge, not being able to work with them. And with that being said, couple, the lack of coaching that we are... you know, that we're tied to, couple that with their youth, you know, that I think played a part in our early season struggles, but I really think that they got a taste of how successful that they can be. And I think that intrinsic motivation in of itself will be, you know, their guide to want to work hard over the summer knowing that you can't go for months without swinging a bat, and expect to pick it back up and pick up right where you left off. It just doesn't work that way. So I know a lot of them are playing summer ball, travel ball, whether it's a 23 UTeam, three four pickup tournaments, that's plenty.
McKell: You know, they've got great internships that they need to be focused on and we're hoping to put together... Not hoping, but we are putting together a hitting program for them this summer, and just hopefully making it easy for them to get some swings in, and to isolate a few areas of focus that we really saw as a common theme as our team. And I think they're going to come back and I know I mean, they've already said, coach, can it be February 15th, 2020 yet? I mean, we're ready, we know we don't want this break, but unfortunately we have to take it.
Aaron: Well one graduating senior there, Dre Russo had her senior day there in the past weekend, which before the tournament, which was kind of encapsulating the season there a little bit, right, because there are also the schedule changes, and had a dramatic win, and a heartbreaking loss that was a crazy weekend also wasn't it?
McKell: Holy, yes, a couple heartbreaking losses, you know we had Bowdoin in two out of three games and, unfortunately, let those wins slip away, and that determined a different playoff seeding than what we easily could have had otherwise. You know, Dre had a great weekend, I think Dre had a great finish to her career, and I think you know, hopefully, she is proud of the mark that she left. I know certainly we are, and like I said, I think we're really just scratching the surface, and Dre was really a catalyst in that. So, we were lucky to have Dre, and I know that her legacy is a great one, and we're looking to build off of that, and continue building the program into a much more successful NESCAC program.
Aaron: Well, one of the upperclassmen Julia Panepinto started showing a little more power as well, right? That's natural, because she's obviously a year round athlete who just puts in the work doesn't she?
McKell: I don't think that there's a stronger female athlete on campus. I mean, Julia just has just natural... she has a natural gift and power, and so sometimes it's trying to get her to not do too much because if she truly just makes the slightest contact with the ball, she's going to hit it hard. So I think as the season progressed, you know, we were able to work with her a little bit more and it's all... you know, there's so much that goes on between the ears too, right? And to try to manage that mindset, with not trying to do too much, and hit the ball hard. You know, we really saw Julia come together, and she certainly has a lot of power. And I think, you know, the more consistent that we can get her to get her timing down and you know, mechanically just have good distribution of her weight, so on and so forth. She'll continue that power and I think a much more consistent manner next year.
Aaron: Well, and this season you asked, KP, Kirsten Pelletier to do more than probably she's ever had to do before, right? Pitching both halves of doubleheaders and whatnot. Maybe ideally, you wouldn't have to ask you to do that. But she certainly did and did it well, didn't she?
McKell: Yeah. I mean, anything that we threw at KP she took on, and she shouldered, and she threw more innings than any other pitcher in the NESCAC, had more strikeouts than any other pitcher in the NESCAC, lowered her ERA to under two. You know, the first thing she said to me after our Williams game was, coach, next year I want to lower it to under one. And I'm like, okay, you know, let's just take a deep breath, and reflect on how tremendous of a season she just had. And I think sometimes it's easy to lose that perspective because we're so used to her just coming in, and shutting down other teams, and hitting big pitches, and big spots. But I mean, truly what she's done for us has been nothing short of remarkable. And she's put in so much work and we are so lucky to have her.
Aaron: Awesome. Well, to wrap things up any other thoughts on the season as a whole, and what it's going to take for the team, for the program to make that next step?
McKell: Yeah, you know, just thinking back and reflecting on, you know, we finished 15 and 21. And nearly half, if not a little over half of our losses came by one run or a walk off in the bottom of the seventh inning, or in extra innings. And so we were right on the cusp, but again, I think, you know, you think back to 15 and 21, well... you know, we weren't over 500 but again, the combination of our youth and the combination of that with some really, really tough losses against some really, really good teams, that experience that we now have, I feel strongly is going to be what propels us into taking that next step where we win those tough games, we don't give away leads in the seventh or eighth inning, or whatever it is, you know.
McKell: And so to think back and say like, holy smokes, nearly half of our losses came under that fashion, like, yeah, that's a tough pill to swallow. But that's also really, really encouraging as well. So we're right there, like I said, we unfortunately have to take this break. We wish we didn't have to, but I know they're ready to get right back to it. So it's been exciting, and I'm super proud of them.
Aaron: All right, McKell Barnes. Thanks so much.
McKell: Thanks, Aaron.
Aaron: Next time on the Bates Bobcast, we’ll recap the NESCAC Baseball Championships, the National Invitational Rowing Championships and more! Plus, a look at Cold Front, the Bates women’s Ultimate team that is headed to nationals for the fourth straight year, led by their sensational senior: Josie Gillett. That’s next time, on the Bates Bobcast!