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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Softball starts the 2024 season off with a bang

Softball’s found their sweet spot while swinging for the fences, and it looks like the Beacons may stay scoring—and scorching—for a while. According to Beacons Athletics, the team has been tearing the cover off the ball since their season commenced March 10, beginning their year with an outstanding 10–1 record that included an eight-game winning streak; their only loss was a bitter 8–7 nail-biter against Sweet Briar College over Spring Break. [1] Despite the dropped match, the team proved to Beaconville’s faithful that there was nothing to worry about, aside from treating South Carolina like it was their home turf, as they finished their stay in Myrtle Beach 8–1.

In their electrifying 11-game stretch, the Beacons nearly doubled their opponents’ scoring mark, outscoring them 127–64, and managed to somehow outdo themselves with an unfathomable run differential of 35–4 in the latter four bouts [1]. Establishing themselves as the pinnacle of perfection, the group made it known that they always carry the upper hand when it comes to playing at a neutral site [1,2]. Nonetheless, their early-season dominance has become a newfound annual tradition, but this year, they anticipate that the gear-up for greatness will show no signs of slowing down, something they’re unable to say when looking back on 2023. 

The Beacons’ unpredictable collapse in the latter half of last year can be chalked up to several different factors. Whether it was due to their poor performance against Little East Conference opponents or the pitching staff’s declining stamina and control, the end result caused the Beacons’ record to get out of hand, and they were playing nothing like their usual selves. This year, they hope not to carbon-copy their woes, and there’s a difference in a specific facet that, if maintained, will keep them independent from last year’s pack due to its salience. That statistic, of course, is defense. 

According to Beacons Athletics, the team had an abysmal .927 fielding percentage and committed 89 errors against their opponents last year—averaging out to more than two per game. To put things into perspective, combatants coughed the ball up 71 times and had a cumulative fielding percentage of .940 against UMass Boston. Their miscues on the diamond played a pivotal role in close games due to them giving clear cut, opportune moments for their opponents to score, undoubtedly making a difference in the Beacons’ loss column. This year, however, they’ve improved greatly on the field, flashing the leather on multiple occasions and seemingly one-upping last year’s foes with a .941 fielding percentage in their first 11 of 2024; the mark is also on par with this year’s opposition, who also sport a percentage of .941 [3,4]. 

Paired with their perennially potent offense, it’s a recipe for great times ahead for the Beacons. Accumulating 111 runs in an 11-game stretch is nothing short of otherworldly, and a lot of the Beacons’ core players are stepping up big time, both at the plate and on the base paths. Designated hitter Lauryn Bethea is squaring up on the ball, hitting .394 with an On-base Plus Slugging of .929. Meanwhile, infielder Haley Tilberry is batting .344 and is second on the team in stolen bases, maintaining a 100 percent success rate at that; she swiped four of the Beacons’ 19 bags through the first 11, Sofie Richland being her only superior—who, on the record, was also successful 100 percent of the time. 

Though, it’s not just the Beacons’ veterans who have asserted themselves as top players; two newcomers have entered the conversation, and they’ve been dancing in the moonlight since the season opener. First year utility player Mya Perron has had arguably the best season on offense so far. The freshman sensation’s .435 average puts her atop the Beacons’ leaderboard among everyday starters, and her OPS of 1.098 is off the charts. Her flexibility to slot herself into any place on the field will help the Beacons immensely as the season rolls on, given the presence of injuries and slumps could plague the roster at one point or another.

On the flip side, one of the Beacons’ new hurlers, graduate student Jacqueline Cherry, is bringing the heat and helping ace Bri Melchionda by dealing some power pitching in her own right. She was 3–0 in the 11-game stretch and gave up just four earned runs for an earned run average of 1.12 to go alongside 26 strikeouts and just four walks. Melchionda is harnessing her power as well, the cherry on top being that she matched Cherry with 26 strikeouts, yet somehow sliced her ERA in half for a supernatural 0.56 mark [4].

The Beacons will look to continue to ride the hot hand throughout the rest of the month, but come April, the real tests will begin. UMass Boston struggled against their LEC counterparts, but this year’s squad is different; improvements have been made, and players are proving they’re some of the conference’s best. It’s safe to say that softball is rocking out in the driver’s seat, and if all goes to plan, they’ll be riding off into the sunset in no time. 

 

  1. https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/softball/schedule/2024
  2. https://beaconsathletics.com/sports/softball/schedule/2023
  3. 2023 Softball Cumulative Statistics – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)
  4. 2024 Softball Cumulative Statistics – UMass Boston (beaconsathletics.com)

 

About the Contributor
Nick Collins, Sports Editor