Crazy Eights: 3 Wesleyan Spring Sport Teams get off to 8-0 Starts

Casey Simchik '10. (Photo by Brian Katten)

Casey Simchik '10. (Photo by Brian Katten)

Wesleyan women’s tennis posted a 4-0 mark during its fall dual-match schedule, then added four victories in Orlando, Fla. during its spring training trip in March to head into the meat of its schedule with an 8-0 record. The rest of the season features matches against nine consecutive NESCAC rivals. The outcomes of this part of the schedule will dictate qualification for the NESCAC tournament.

Women’s tennis is one of three Cardinal squads to inaugurate the season with an 8-0 start. Both the baseball and softball teams also have started 8-0.

The 8-0 record is the best ever season opening records for both softball and tennis. Each, however, is shy of the all-time program record for consecutive victories: women’s tennis won nine matches in a row during a 15-4 season in 2000-01; softball won 12 straight during its 21-15 season just three years ago in 2007. Baseball, which extended its streak to 10 games this year before dropping a game in California, began the 1988 season 13-0 and had a string of 15 consecutive victories in 1983.

Genevieve Aniello ’13 has been a spark plug for women’s tennis, which has three seniors – #1 Anika Fischer ’10, #4 Meredith Holmes and #6 Casey Simchik ’10. Moving into the #3 spot in the singles ladder and teaming with Simchik at #3 doubles, Aniello is the only Cardinal to play singles and doubles in all eight matches. She stands 7-1 in singles and is undefeated in doubles. Simchik remains unbeaten on the year, posting a 7-0 mark in both singles and doubles. The team will look to tie the win-streak record when it takes to the courts in its opening NESCAC match Sunday, March 28 at Colby.

Talia Bernstein '11 helped the Cardinals win against Babson.

Talia Bernstein '11 helped the Cardinals win against Babson. (Photo by Ron Bernstein)

Though softball returned from Florida with an overall record of 8-6, the Cardinals produced some tremendous excitement during its win streak. Winning three of the eight games in their last at-bat, the Cardinals downed Haverford, 7-6, College of New Jersey, 10-9 in 10 innings, and Babson, 8-7. Wesleyan overcame deficits of 6-2 vs. Haverford and 5-1 vs. TCNJ to pick up the “Ws.” Perhaps most dramatic was the comeback vs. Babson as Wesleyan entered the bottom of the 7th down 7-4. Allee Beatty ’13 drove in a run to make it 7-5 and the Cardinals loaded the bases with two outs. Up came Talia Bernstein ’11, who unloaded the sacks with her school-record fourth double of the contest, giving Wesleyan the win. No player had ever hit more than two doubles in a game for Wesleyan previously. With 12 RBI this season, Bernstein has assumed the Wesleyan career leadership in just her junior year with 72. Chrissy Bello ’12 leads the squad through 14 games with 17 hits and a .405 batting average. Wesleyan hosts Bates in a double-header Sunday, March 28 for its home opener. The first game will be webcast.

Wesleyan baseball senior quad-captain Brice Kelly, left, made a game-saving catch in right field during a 7-4 win over Swarthmore.  Swarthmore had two men on base with two outs, and Kelly ran into the outfield fence to make the grab, hitting his face on the fence. (Photo by Jeff Lamborn)

Wesleyan baseball senior quad-captain Brice Kelly '10, left, made a game-saving running catch in right field during a 7-4 win over Swarthmore. Swarthmore had two men on base with two outs, and Kelly made the final out while hitting his face on the fence. (Photo by Jeff Lamborn)

Baseball, while capturing eight of its wins by at least three runs (Wesleyan outscored its opponents 114-59 over the stretch), was not without some drama as well. The running catch by Brice Kelly ’10 with two men on and two outs in the top of the last inning against Swarthmore preserved a 7-4 score though Kelly paid a price as he came away a bit bloody after he made contact with the chain-link fence. Wesleyan’s 11-10 win over Swarthmore in the title game of the Desert Classic, the last of its eight games in Arizona, required a four-run Wesleyan rally in the bottom of the 8th to help send the game into extra innings. After Swarthmore regained the lead in the top of the 10th, the Cardinals responded with an RBI fielder’s choice out by Dave Skura ‘12 to tie the contest. A Swarthmore wild pitch allowed the winning run to score.

Julian Sonnenfeld ’11 hit safely in all 10 wins and ran his hitting streak to 12 games during Wesleyan’s 14-game western trip. He paced the squad with a .436 batting average, 26 RBI and a .982 slugging percentage as 18 of his 24 hits went for extra bases (12 doubles, six homers). Four Wesleyan starters returned hitting .400 or above. After road games at Coast Guard and Amherst to get the New England schedule underway, the Cardinals host Amherst in a double-header March 27 for the home opener.