Hot bats have Pirate softball surging

Softball season is in full swing at the Hall, and for the Pirates, one thing has fueled them all season long: their bats.

Through 30 games this season entering April 5, the Pirates have hit .303 as a team, with five players batting over .300. One of those players is Alexis Walkden, who leads the team with a .402 average and has already matched her home run total from last season with eight so far this year.

Alexis Walkden has smacked eight home runs so far this season. Photo via SHU Athletics.

“We had the Pirate Invitational and we had a lot of people hitting all the way through the lineup,” Walkden said about the team’s production offensively. “Going into Big East, everyone was really excited and I knew that excitement was going to carry into our at-bats.”

Walkden’s production has increased from last season, along with teammate Lauren Fischer. The senior is one of the premier weapons on this Pirates squad, displaying her skills both at the plate and in the circle. Last year, Fischer hit .387 with four homers in 22 games as a junior, as well as posting a 4.13 ERA in 11 appearances in the circle. So far this season, she has made it one to remember, touting a .321 average with five home runs, one of which was of the walk-off variety against Villanova back on March 25. Her contribution in the circle has improved significantly, as she has become the ace of the staff with a 2.77 ERA in 12 games this year.

“I think we really build off of each other,” Fischer said, noting how those at the top of the lineup set the tone for the rest of the offense. “As long as we’re consistent and we’re starting off strong, that’s when we score a lot of runs…that’s when we’re most successful.”

While much of the reason for the Pirates’ offensive display is thanks to skill, a great deal of it also comes from something that doesn’t show up on the stat sheets: believing in one another.

“I know Walkden, [Sara] Foster, Destini [Peck], everyone around me in the lineup is going to back me up if I’m struggling,” Fischer said. “It’s just a matter of being confident in my teammates around me and knowing that they’re going to support me.”

This team has been explosive all season long, scoring seven or more runs in 14 games, nearly half of the games they have played this year.

Walkden and Fischer aren’t the only two Pirates having stellar seasons offensively for this team. Peck, a sophomore, was named Big East Player of the Week back in March, and is second on the team in batting average at .379. Additionally, several new Pirates have come on this season and made major impacts on the offensive side.

Freshmen Darby Pandolfo and Hailey Arteaga have been slated back-to-back in the starting lineup throughout this season, and the rookie duo has not disappointed. Pandolfo is hitting .284 with three home runs and is fourth on the team in slugging percentage at .554. Arteaga is hitting .281 this season and is third on the team in runs batted in with 22.

“They’ve come in and done exactly what they’re supposed to do,” Walkden, a junior, said about the freshmen starters. “They’ve come up in big situations and they don’t try to do too much, just get a good base hit and get themselves on base any way they can.”

From the veterans in Walkden and Fischer to a freshmen tandem of Pandolfo and Arteaga, Pirates offense has been solid from top to bottom. With no everyday starter hitting below .294, this offense is one to be reckoned with as the Pirates progress further into Big East play.

Matt Ambrose is a journalism major from Exeter, N.H. He can be reached at matthew.ambrose1@student.shu.edu or on Twitter @mambrose97.

Author: Matt Ambrose

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