At one point in this season, the CCSJ softball team had an abysmal record of five victories and 10 defeats.
Things only looked to get worse once the Crimson Wave started to deal with injuries like that of junior first baseman Nicole Henry.
The Toronto native suffered from a lower back strain. The pain just didn’t affect Henry, but also the team since Henry’s defense at first base had been flawless.
Also, the team’s wave of freshmen Ashley Ferguson, Celeste Robles, Samantha Lopez, and Claire Schapker were adjusting to college-level competition and their new teammates.
On March 5, team lost the first game of a doubleheader 3-2 in Austin, Texas to Huston–Tillotson University, a private historically black university.
Little did the Crimson Wave know at the time, that they would begin to put the pieces together and go on an incredible 12 game winning streak.
“Timely hitting by all has been a huge factor in the winning streak,” says head coach Dave Lopez. “The way we are winning has been by a total effort and playing with heart.”
Lopez says it’s all about putting the pieces together and being able to have different stars on different days that allows for the team to go on streaks like they did.
It all starts with the team’s dominant one-two punch of pitching between sophomore ace Alyssa Sansone and junior Kali Weyer.
Sansone was named player of the week (when?) in the Chicago Collegiate athletic Conference and leads the team with 39.2 innings pitched, four earned runs and an incredibly low 0.71 earned run average.
Meanwhile, Weyer is not far behind with 28 innings pitched, 10 earned runs, and a respectable 2.49 earned run average during the winning streak.
Despite her success, Sansone doesn’t see herself as the team’s ace.
“To be honest, I do not look at myself as the ace pitcher of the team. I work hard and I am just the pitcher who starts the first game.” Sansone says. “What I have never stopped doing is pay for my pitching lessons. I have one lesson a week.”
The offensive side is quite a different story. In this improbable 12 -game winning streak, there have been a number of heroes on any given day. The two leaders in the winning streak offensively have to be lead-off hitter and left fielder Sadie Conner, a sophomore, and starting shortstop, Priscilla Aponte, a junior.
Conner and Aponte have lead the team during this winning streak with a combined .443 batting average, scoring 19 runs, and 20 runs batted in.
“It was more of a team effort when someone starts to hit. We find ways to put our hits together,” Aponte says.
But what happens when the team goes on a cold streak in hitting?
“I try to have a positive mind set and think that the next at bat is going to get the team going.” Aponte says.
The comradery of the team is evident when you’re talking to the players. They all want the team to succeed, and are proud and happy that they were able to go on such a long winning streak.
“It felt great to lead the team in hitting during the streak. I have been working very hard and it is always validating to see your hard work pay off,” Conner, the team’s lead-off hitter and left-fielder, says.
Another reason why the team performs so well offensively and defensively is that on any given game a different player rises to the challenge. For example, senior Sarah Simchak hitting a home run and driving in the only two runs to win a game, a much needed assist made by sophomore third baseman Geena Locicero or much needed leadership from senior second baseman Patty Monarrez. The way different players step up to the challenge on any given day is a major morale boost.
Crimson Wave’s softball team has a little over 20 games left on the season before the CCAC Tournament at Roosevelt University in Chicago in May.
Cuban-American Felix A. Rojas is a junior at Calumet College of St. Joseph where he studies English, Writing, and Professional Communications with a minor in History.
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