Unforgiving temperatures, a 15-mile-per-hour wind and fans bundled in winter garb are hardly reminiscent of spring softball, yet the Lions were subject to these elements in their Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) debut at Rotch Field last Friday afternoon.
The doubleheader pitted the Emerson Lions against the Southern Vermont Mountaineers. Before the day was done, the Mountaineers would be the ones left out in the cold.
Despite the dismal weather, nothing could cool the red-hot Lions' bats. Emerson began its GNAC softball season with a bang.
After Sara Collings, the team's lone senior, sat down the Mountaineers in order, the Lions got to the dish for a while. Emerson got seven hits, five plunked batters, five walks, one error and one home run which made the first inning last 33 minutes. The Lions held a dominant 15-0 lead over a weak Southern Vermont squad.
After another unsuccessful effort at the plate, the Lions went back to work.
Collings helped her own cause by belting a two-run homer down the left field line, increasing the lead 17-0. The Lions would plate three more in the inning to head into the top of the third with a 20-0 lead, enough to warm the soul of any Emerson fan in attendance.
After another hitless half-inning for Southern Vermont, the punishment was over as the umpires called the contest due to the mercy rule, which states that a game must be ended after three innings if a team leads by 15 or more runs.
The Mountaineers would have to scale similar heights in game two of the double-header.
Freshman pitcher Tricia Carrabba struck out three of the four batters she faced in the top of the first inning. Emerson proved to be more efficient in the second half of the doubleheader than the first.
Instead of waiting two innings to score 20 runs, the Lions bulldozed their way there.
After hastily playing through the rest of the game, the Lions had powered their way to a second three inning, 20-run, mercy-rule win over Southern Vermont.
Freshman Bri Papa, who started in left field and at catcher in the doubleheader, had three home runs and 12 runs batted in on the day.
"[That was] definitely my best hitting performance," Papa said.
Kristina Caulfield, Southern Vermont's starting pitcher in both games, was also terrorized at the plate by freshman first baseman Brittany Cooke, who knocked in seven runs, and sophomore centerfielder Mallory Moretti who had five.
Not to be forgotten were the pitching performances of Collings and Carrabba, who both threw no-hitters against the Mountaineers.
Head Coach Phil McElroy applauded his team's win but was also unsure of its performance against a weak opponent like Southern Vermont.
"It's very difficult to judge the game, to be honest," McElroy said.
The slugging Papa echoed her coach's sentiment.
"The league that we're in is a lot stronger than this, so it's hard to base our performance on [today's games]," Papa said.
Southern Vermont has traditionally been one of the weaker teams in the GNAC for women's softball.
Papa, Cooke and Carrabba all played key roles in the Lions' victories against the Mountaineers. McElroy has nothing but praise for his young squad.
"It's very exciting to have a lot of young talent to go along with the talented returning players that we have," McElroy said. "The core of the team is young, so it's exciting not only for now, but for the rest of the year, hoping that we get better and improve from game to game."
The team's sweep over Southern Vermont was repeated the next day over fellow GNAC rival Johnson and Wales.
The Lions are now 11-3 overall, with a 4-0 conference record. McElroy said he is very pleased with his team's performance but cautions that the season has only just begun.
"You don't want to put too much [attention] into [our strong start]," McElroy said. "You don't want to overlook it and say that it's not a great thing, but hopefully, we just continue like this throughout the season."