Softball one spot shy of playoffs with two doubleheaders remaining

As the softball team heads into its final weekend in the conference regular season, the Lions have a chance to make the playoffs with two doubleheader games remaining.

The Lions hold a conference record of 5–9 and sit in seventh place in the New England Women’s and Men’s Conference standings—only the top six teams make the playoffs.

The Lions will host Clark University on Friday, April 19 at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Clark places two spots below Emerson in the NEWMAC standings with a conference record of 3–11. The Lions are one game behind Wheaton College and will play Wheaton at home on Saturday, April 20 at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Head coach Phil McElroy said the team remains in control of the season even though they did not perform their best in conference play.

“We haven’t done as well in conference play this year,” McElroy said. “We’ve given away a few games but we’re alive and kicking, and we have a big weekend coming up. We have to get at least three out of four this weekend.”

The softball team includes four upperclassmen, nine freshmen, and three sophomores on the roster. Senior outfielder and co-captain Alena Jones—who has 12 runs batted in this season—experienced an injury in early April and left a big hole in the team’s on-field leadership, McElroy said.

McElroy said senior outfielder Marisa DeFranco filled in for Jones when she was sidelined.

”She’s taken on more of a leadership role since Jones went down with an injury, and Marisa [DeFranco] has taken over that leadership role in the outfield,” McElroy said.  

DeFranco hits leadoff for the Lions and holds a 0.450 on-base percentage and a 0.449 slugging percentage. This season she scored 31 runs and 10 RBIs, drawn 12 walks, and accumulated 37 hits, including five extra-base hits. She ranks sixth in runs scored and seventh in hits in the NEWMAC so far this season.

Freshman infielder Lexi Semanchik said she feels very confident in DeFranco’s performance on the field and looks to her for advice when she needs it.

“On the field, she has a big impact because she leads off. I always have a lot of confidence in her getting on base. As an infielder, even if she hits it on the ground there’s a high chance she still gets on because she can beat out the throw.” Semanchik said, “She’s always really good at giving everybody pointers because she has a lot of experience in different positions. If you have any questions she’s always someone that is willing to help.”

DeFranco declined to comment on this story.

Senior catcher and co-captain Kallista Leonardos has yet to record a fielding error all season while hitting 0.333 percent and driving in seven home runs and 28 RBIs. She ranks second in the NEWMAC for home runs and third for RBIs.

McElroy said the team relies on underclassmen for pitching throughout the season. Sophomore Neely Eddleston started in 16 games so far this season while freshman Karagan Knowles started in 10. The pair combined for 14 wins and a total of 153.2 innings pitched. Eddleston struck out 38 batters so far this season while Knowles totaled 55 strikeouts.

McElroy said he feels optimistic about the strength of his team for the remainder of this season and future seasons because of its strong leadership and youthfulness.

“We think we have a good shot at making the playoffs,” McElroy said. “It’s really in our hands if we make it or not. Even if we don’t, the two captains and Marisa will help lead the team through the experience headed into the future.”

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