Softball hosts annual sexual assault awareness games

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Photo: Sydney Ciardi

The softball team are 13-15 in 2022 with eight games left to play.

By Tyler Foy, Sports Editor

The softball team hosted its fifth annual Sexual Assault Awareness game in a doubleheader against Babson College on Friday.

The initiative was started years ago by a former member of the team, according to Head Coach Phil McElroy. The games seek to validate those who have faced sexual assault.

“It was one of those things where we felt like it was a way that we could bring attention to the fact that people should not be ashamed of coming out and saying ‘Hey, I’ve been a victim before as well,’” McElroy said.

In previous years, there was an advertised fundraiser for victims of sexual assault in combination with the games. The fundraiser was not a part of this year’s rendition.

Emerson College and athletics have a reputation in sports activism—something most first-year athletes haven’t had the opportunity to participate in before.

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“These kinds of causes have never really intersected with my sport,” said first-year right-handed pitcher Jessica Gomez. “This particular cause meant a lot because it all kind of ties in with Title IX and all those things that are giving women—particularly women athletes—more of a voice.”

Emerson’s tradition of community activism is a central part of the college’s identity, McElroy said, and is one that is emphasized in the athletic recruiting process.

“We have students that are not afraid to have their voice heard,” McElroy said. “Those are conversations that we do have, about how we get into the community and we are not afraid to talk and to communicate on things.”

Gomez said this aspect was a major reason she chose to come to Emerson as a Division III student-athlete.

“I think that the politically-outspoken atmosphere of Emerson was definitely a big seller,” Gomez said. “I honestly had no idea that it was a part of the athletic community, but it’s something so special, and if I had chosen a different school that might not have been the case.”

In preparation for the doubleheader, the team designed posters and a logo for their warm-up jerseys. Gomez said it was a bonding experience for the team.

“When you’re in season everything is so busy,” she said. “It took a conscious effort from everyone to set aside time. It just kind of makes you stop and smell the roses a bit. I just appreciate all of us doing this for the team.”

When the players took the field, the focus became winning the game against Babson—a difficult task, as the Beavers entered the game with only two conference losses.

Babson wasted no time in game one scoring a run in the first inning. The Lions’ offense struggled against Beavers starting pitcher Megan O’Reilly, who struck out 15 in the appearance. 

The Beavers continued to pile on runs throughout the middle innings and it wasn’t until the bottom of the seventh that the Lions were able to reply. But the Lions’ one run––on an RBI single by Gomez––was too little, too late, and the first game came to a close 7-1 in favor of Babson.

Game two saw a similar start as the Beavers struck again in the first inning for one run. Babson started pitching, picking up where they left off and holding the Lions scoreless for five innings while scoring an additional two themselves.

In the bottom of the sixth, Emerson had an opportunity with a runner in scoring position. First-year infielder Ally Lacey hit a double to right-center field deep enough in the gap to score the runner. A single from first-year utility Sam Zannotti plated another, narrowing the score to 3-2. 

Those were the only runs the Lions were able to muster against the Beavers, who tacked on another in the top of the seventh and finished the game on top 4-2.

Though the day finished with an unfortunate result for the Lions, their message still rang true. McElroy said the team looks forward to being a part of more activist causes in the future, but added that the quantity of events should not outweigh their quality. 

“We will be trying to do a little bit more,” he said. “A lot of our players are a part of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and typically, that group will typically do a lot of day events and awareness events. I think that we always have the challenge of, ‘how many of these awareness games should we do?’”

 The team is made up of seven first-year players, including Gomez, who hope to set up different events to advocate for topics such as mental health in sports.

“As we get older, as we get more experienced, and as we figure out how to put these things together, that’s something that could be in the future for us,” she said.