Spring sports roundup: How they got here, and where they’re going next
It’s been a busy spring for Washington University athletics. But, for the most part, scheduled spring games are over, and Wash. U. athletes, just like the rest of us, are now strapping in for the push through finals week, all the while preparing for playoff matches on the other side of their exams. With the regular seasons mostly over, now is the perfect time to look back on the season that was and forward to the postseason that will be.
Track & Field
The track and field teams are technically not yet done with their regularly scheduled meets; they still have the Drake Relays in Jacksonville, Ill. and the True Blue Twilight in Des Moine, Iowa this coming weekend, and the NCAA championships in Geneva, Ohio, are nearly a month away.
The Bears are, however, fresh off of their biggest competition of the outdoor season so far: the UAA championships. In what has so far been an impressive season for the women’s team, ranked as the number one team in the nation, they took home first in the conference finishing a comfortable 31 points ahead of the University of Chicago. The Bears women have been strong all year, riding the momentum off of a national indoor championship in March. They will look to continue the strong showings into May and, as the top-ranked team, will be one of the frontrunners for the national championship.
The men’s team have been no slouches themselves: They took second at the UAA championships and topped the field in both meets that Wash. U. hosted in the early spring. As the number eighteen team in the nation, they will be less likely to win a national title than the women’s team, but have competed well with nationally competitive teams in the UAA and will look to do the same in Geneva May 25-27.
The baseball team has had a year to remember so far. After starting the season unranked, the Bears have fought their way into the top twenty, climbing at times as high as number sixteen. Perhaps the highlight of the season so far was the four-game home sweep of then-No.10 Emory.
The key for the Bears this season has been standout performances from its seniors. In particular, pitcher Brad Margolin has been virtually unhittable this season. The senior is currently unbeaten at 7-0, and has not given up a run in his last three starts.
Before Wash. U. can look too far ahead to the NCAA playoffs, however, there is still business to attend do in the UAA. With eight games left on their schedule, the Bears are locked in a race for the conference title with Case Western Reserve. With the teams splitting the head-to-head series, the UAA crown will come down to who blinks first, so to speak, over the last few weeks.
Despite being unranked, the softball team is finishing its season on a tear. Since losing an 8-7 extra-innings heartbreaker to Case Western two weeks ago, the Bears have ripped through the schedule and are in the midst of a seven-game win streak. The streak has pushed their record to 23-11 with one more series to go, away this weekend at New York University.
Much of the Bear’s success this season has come down to two junior pitchers: Anna McKee and Maggie Clapp. McKee has appeared in 25 games for Wash. U. this season, earning 14 wins and 1.68 ERA. Clapp on the other hand has 8 wins in 21 appearances, and has been similarly successful in keeping her ERA low, only allowing a 2.29. If the Bears’ win streak continues through the four games in New York this weekend, they will look to ride that momentum, and strong pitchin, into the playoffs.
Fresh off their loss to Emory in the UAA championship match, the men’s tennis team wraps up its schedule this coming Sunday at home to Rose Hulman Institute of Technology. The loss to Emory was rare for the No. 6 Bears, who to that point had only dropped three matches over the course of the season. In singles, Wash. U. has been led by Johnny Wu and John Carswell at the one and two spots, as well as freshman Bernardo Neves, who has broken through with eighteen singles wins in his first year. The Bears’ doubles play has been their biggest strength this year, with three doubles pairings winning ten or more matches on the season.
With a 15-4 record, and match experience against a number of other top-ten schools, Wash. U. is poised to make a run in the playoffs. Of course, this is largely dependent on matchups, and the Bears will not know who they play until the NCAA field is announced May 8.
This season, the story for the women’s tennis team has been the curtain call for senior Rebecca Ho. With two wins in the UAA semifinals against Chicago last week, Ho reached 184 victories for her career, a new school record. Ho is currently ranked fourth in the nation in singles; teammate Kaylan Griffith is ranked fourth in the nation in doubles.
The Bears finished their regular season on a bit of sour note, with two straight losses at the end of the UAA tournament. The Bears now head into an extended break with a 12-10 overall record, and are currently number ten in the nation, having spent the majority of the season playing against ranked opposition. Wash. U. has struggled against top-ten teams this season, with nine of their ten losses coming against such schools. With no matches left on the schedule, the Bears now have just over two weeks of waiting ahead of them, until they find out their matchup for the NCAA playoffs May 8.