The End of the Season, but not the Passion


Photos: Kaylyn Terry

Kaylyn Terry

The last matchup for the Quinnipiac softball team didn’t go quite as planned, as they dropped both games of the doubleheader 5-4 and 5-2 to Fairfield and brought an end to their season. 

To start off game one, Megan Forbes hit a leadoff double to center field and eventually scored off of a groundout from Lacey Olaff to give the Stags a 1-0 lead.

It wouldn’t be the only score by Forbes, as a single by Olaff sent both Forbes and Kaitlin Hoffman home and made it 3-0 Stags. 

Heading into the third inning, the Stags stayed silent, but Kayla Thomas had an answer for the 3-0 deficit when she hit a bomb out to right field clutching a 3-run home run bringing in Katherine Rodriguez and Ela Henry. 

The Bobcats looked for the lead and got it as Gianna Palmisano brought in the leading run off of an error in the outfield by Fairfield. 

That would be all she wrote for the Bobcats offense, but the Stags offense had a lot to say in the final inning. Olaff got her second double of the game which drove in Madison Robicheau to tie it up. Kasey Sekula then singled to drive in pinch runner Haley Updegraff to win game one 5-4. 

Heading into game two, the Bobcats took an early lead 1-0 with a double by Kayla Jensen to send home Rodriguez. 

A quiet second inning was just the calm before the storm, as Fairfield came out with smoking bats. The reign began when Olaff grabbed her third double of the day to bring in Hoffman to tie up the game. Sekula then reached on an error which drove in Olaff. 

That was not all for Fairfield as a Lauryn Rhinehart double to left field dragged in both Evie Wright and Sekula to bring the lead to 4-1.

The next few innings were silent, but Fairfield cranked another run in during the sixth inning. Mikayla Rubin doubled to center and Forbes came in hot to grab the extra run. 

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, it seemed unlikely that the Quinnipiac bats would get hot. However, with two runners in scoring position, Thomas singled to bring in Henry and cut the Stag’s lead to 5-2. 

It wouldn’t be enough, though, as the Bobcats dropped both games and ended their season. 

With such a young team, the year became a learning curve and experience for Coach Hillary Smith and the team. 

“We’re a really, really young team, I’m just really proud of them with how they faced adversity,” Smith acknowledged about the team. “Not only with COVID, but we’ve had a lot of injuries and lot of kids who have been down, and a lot of other kids that have had to step up. So, to see them be able to do that and get over those humps and grow as a team has been great.”

Looking to next year, the Bobcats believe they’ll come back stronger than ever.

“I think it’s to never give up. That’s our main thing,” Smith said on next season. “Them just realizing how good they actually are and that they’re capable of doing anything. Sometimes, early in the season, teams put up runs on us and we’d get in our heads a little bit and we wouldn’t be able to fight back. Getting towards the end, you started watching them fighting back and answering back.”

A shock to many, Jensen announced that she will return for another year with the Bobcats. The senior left fielder recorded 17 runs and 29 hits this season. She also capped off the year with a .257 batting average. 

“I’ve known Kayla [Jensen] since she was 12 years old,” Smith said. “I taught Kayla how to play softball. To have her come back is a big deal and I wanted her here because I wanted her to help change this program and I know what an impact player she can be so it means a lot that she believes in me as a coach and this program and she wants to help us get to the top. She’s a big part of our energy.” 

Pitching is something that has to be looked at come next year. The offense was there this year, but the pitching struggled as Julia Woeste was the only continuous pitcher the team had. With injury after injury, it became hard to scrap together a pitching crew, often times subbing in Jensen or other outfielders. 

“Next year, we’re bringing in a lot of pitchers. So, it should be really good,” Smith commented. 

Getting the bats hot and keeping them hot was also a struggle this year and something to look at next season. In most games, the steam began to evaporate, and the team left many runners on base. 

The Bobcats put their all this year and it came with a lot of memories and hustle. 

“The wins and losses, that’s one thing, but to watch them grow together as a family, I think that’s been the most rewarding thing for me,” Smith said. “Watching them laugh together and have those special moments, you know, those are the things you want to coach for – to watch those girls come together and become a family.” 

The team will be back next season, but, for now, their work is cut out for them as they will try to come out bigger and better.