During the first week of spring break, the Sarah Lawrence softball team packed their bats, softballs, and mitts, and headed off to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. This is the second year the team has participated in Myrtle Beach’s intercollegiate softball tournament. Last year, the Gryphons had a disappointing series, going 0-8 in the Snowbird Tournament, but this year they returned to the beach eager to kickoff their season in the Fastpitch Dreams Spring Classic. Last year was particularly difficult because the preseason Bronxville weather was not conducive for team practices. However, this year, February’s weather was hospitable, allowing the team to hold practices on their home field so that they could warm up as a team and play on some dirt before heading south.
The team flew down on early Saturday morning on March 12th, and after getting off the plane, had a late night practice to loosen up their muscles and get ready to play on Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, the Gryphons faced two of the toughest opponents of the tournament. The season opener against Eureka College proved quite the challenge for the Gryphons. The bats remained silent for most of the game with only one hit by Mikayla Cunningham ‘19 in the final inning before Eureka put SLC away 11-0.
The Gryphons made small improvements for game two, but not quite enough to compete with Albright College. Scoring three runs was no match for Albright’s 14. The Gryphons took the two losses as a starting off point and looked forward to improving throughout the week.
Sarah Lawrence returned to the ballpark on Monday ready for action. They started early and brought the right energy to take down Bay Path University in the first game of the day. Riley Vuyovich ‘18 topped the SLC record for career hits with her 40th during the game, helping the team defeat Bay Path 10-2 in SLC’s first victory south of the mid-Atlantic.
In the second game of the day, the Gryphons continued to play hard, but fell short to Albertus Magnus College. In a close game, Albertus Magnus came out on top, 3-1.
Tuesday brought two more tough games for SarahLawrence. The first game of the day against Rutgers-Camden tested the Gryphons’ ability to hold their own on the ball field. The first three innings looked great for SLC, holding the Scarlet Raptors defensively, and the Gryphons earning a run. However, the Gryphons unraveled in the second half of the game and fell to Rutgers 11-3.
Afterwards, SLC faced Eureka College in a rematch. The Gryphons learned from mistakes in their first game, and were able to prove their talent more in this match. But the Red Devils refused to let up, and took down the Gryphons 1-5.
Wednesday, the Gryphons faced Albright College again. The Gryphons were unable to connect hits where they needed to, and fell to Albright 12-0 in five innings. Albright went on to only lose two of the 11 games in Myrtle Beach.
In SLC’s final game of the trip, they took on Southern Vermont College, a competitor they fell to last season. The Gryphon bats came alive, and the team was able to defeat SVC 10-3 to close out the week.
The trip served its purpose of giving the team time to come together and play in game situations before facing conference competition. As a young team, the Gryphons needed the games to learn how to really play as a team. While they worked hard in practices in the fall and throughout February, the ladies on the team could really see each other’s strengths and weaknesses when facing different teams in Myrtle Beach.
In addition to learning on the field, the Gryphons had time off in the evenings that they spent bonding and getting to know each other better. With four first-year and six sophomore players, the team’s majority of underclassmen put them at what some might see as a disadvantage to the other more matured teams. However, the Gryphons view their team’s relative infancy as an opportunity to learn and grow together.
The Gryphons came back to New York ready to continue working hard and getting better every day. The improvements from last year were evident from day one, and the team will continue to improve as the season goes on and as the program grows.
Kamaron McNair '18