The Goshen College softball team started their season off strong, sweeping a doubleheader against Albion with scores of 6-1 and 13-1.

Alisyn Catenacci, a senior, started the season with three scoreless innings; she ended the game with a run given up in five innings pitched off of just two hits. She also contributed in the batter’s box, driving in the Maple Leafs’ first run of the season, and scoring off of a double in the third inning. 

“It felt good to get [out] there for the first time and power through as a team,” she said. “We were able to work as a team and do the little things to succeed on the field.  Everyone found a way to contribute and it was fun to watch the success.”

The performance caused Catenacci, along with Bianca Diamond, a sophomore, to be named Crossroads League conference players of the week.

Diamond contributed four hits, four RBIs, two runs scored and two steals across both games, including a two-RBI single that helped solidify the Leafs’ lead in game one. Carissa Fillingame, a junior, recorded three hits (including a triple) in game one.

Game two started with three consecutive Maple Leaf baserunners, leading to a run on the board before an out was recorded. The Leafs scored three runs in each of the first four innings, ending the game early in the fifth inning due to the mercy rule. 

Notable performances came from Kyra Wilson, a senior, with three hits and Rachel Kates, a freshman, with two hits and two walks. Kaylee Kates, a junior, recorded three hits to go along with three stolen bases. 

“I personally have been working on my bunts,” she said, “and utilizing my speed in ways I have not before in past seasons, like being more aggressive in base running.”

Steals were the name of game two for Goshen; after recording a single steal in game one, the Leafs recorded a whopping nine in game two.

Luke Wagner, head coach for the Leafs, noted that steals were part of the plan going in.

“We really like to try to use our athleticism to the best of our ability,” Wagner said. “We’re always going to kind of try to build the offense around … being athletic, being quick,  putting pressure on the defense to have to make the right plays or pitchers have to keep the ball out of the dirt.”

Goshen finished last season at 24-26 (16-20 in conference); this was an improvement from the 21-22 season, in which they finished 22-28 (14-22 in conference). In his second year as head coach, Wagner feels he has finally had time to fully implement his system.

After losing their first playoff game last year, the Leafs hope to be playing “meaningful games” for as long as they can this year. With a returning coach and many returning players, the team seems to be well-positioned for a year of growth.

“I love the family that automatically comes from playing softball at Goshen,” Kaylee Kates said. “Losing zero seniors last season has helped bring the team closer this season knowing what we have and knowing how to respond to each other accordingly.”

The Leafs played a doubleheader against St. Francis on Wednesday, losing the first game 9-0 but winning the second 8-4 to bring their season record to 3-1.