In the last week of February, Goshen College softball traveled to Melbourne, Florida, to play in the Space Coast Spring Games. 

Last year they made the same trip for the first time, finishing 7-3. Because of last year’s success, they were able to compete in the Legacy Game against the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which was held in the Space Coast stadium. The stadium seats 8,100 people and has been a practice field for some MLB teams. 

Playing two games a day, Monday to Friday, the Leafs improved on last year with an 8-2 record. Junior right fielder Shea VanScoter said, “It was similar to last year, but last year felt different, we had a new coach and the wins they kinda just felt lucky, but this year it felt really put together and our team chemistry was better and the wins felt like wins.” 

Diving deeper into some key games during Goshen’s spring break, the team’s first game on Monday was against the University of British Columbia; the Leafs won 5-3, maintaining the lead the entire game. They had eight hits, with three coming from junior shortstop Carissa Fillingame. Freshman Camryn Barrows pitched four innings, allowing one hit and recording five strikeouts.

Later that day in the Legacy Game, the Leafs were down 2-0 going into the bottom of the sixth but rallied and scored three runs, bringing the score to 3-2. 

Michigan-Dearborn responded immediately in the top of the seventh to tie the ballgame and send it to extra innings, where neither team was able to score — until sophomore shortstop Ella Mcleod batted in senior second baseman Oliva Gibson to walk off the game, 4-3, in the ninth inning.

Tuesday’s games were against Webber International University and Oakland City University; Goshen won 5-2 and 3-2, respectively. In the win over Oakland City, Gibson had a standout game with three hits, two runs and one RBI. VanScoter pitched four innings with four strikeouts and seven groundouts. After two days, the Leafs were 4-0 in Florida.

Their first loss came on Wednesday against Keiser University, where the Maple Leafs were bested 7-9. In the game after, the Leafs faced Florida Memorial University and had another walkoff win. 

In that game, Barrows pitched all eight innings with four strikeouts and 15 groundouts. When asked about being a freshman pitcher on the mound, she said, “They put so much confidence into me that it’s like, OK, I got this and I got you and I’ll do my thing but I know that I have people behind me backing me up and even if I fail … it’s not just one person, it’s the whole team and everyone is backing each other up.”

On Thursday, Goshen beat Florida National University, 5-2, before a rematch against Michigan-Dearborn, where the Leafs came back from trailing 0-4 in the top of the third to win 8-5. 

The last day started strong with another win against Florida National, 7-4. The last game of the Space Coast Games for Goshen ended in a 0-3 loss to St. Thomas University. 

Second year coach Luke Wagner shared his thoughts going into conference play: “Like Florida … we can wrap our heads around it: here’s our plan of attack, this is how we are going to execute, and what we are going to do.”

The Leafs have already had their first four games of conference play, sweeping Bethel in a doubleheader, 8-7 and 8-0, before splitting a doubleheader against Huntington on Wednesday. They lost the first game, 11-1, before winning 5-4 in the second, thanks to another Goshen walk-off.

The team is now 14-4 on the season (3-1 in the Crossroads League). They next play a doubleheader at the University of St. Francis on Saturday.