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Monday, Dec 11, 2023

Spring sports: Season previews

Gavin Gattuso ’24 is an athlete to watch for men’s baseball this season. Courtesy of Middlebury Athletic Communications
Gavin Gattuso ’24 is an athlete to watch for men’s baseball this season. Courtesy of Middlebury Athletic Communications

While spring temperatures are still weeks away, Middlebury’s spring varsity teams are gearing up for their seasons.  For many of these teams, it’s been a while since things have felt normal. The 2020 season was upended in early March and last spring was severely altered because of Covid-19. That’s not to say that we are officially back to normal, but the spring 2022 season brings promise and excitement. Unlike last year, spring teams will play both in-conference and non-conference opponents and won’t be subjected to the same Covid-19 measures as last year. With many teams starting their seasons this weekend, The Campus’ sports editors have compiled previews of every team. 

Baseball - Men’s

by Isabella Marcus

Head coach: Mike Leonard (5th year at Middlebury)

Captains: Andrew Gough ’23, Alec Ritch ’23, Alex Price ’23

Athletes to watch for: Freddy Mosier ’22.5, Andrew Ashley ’24, Sammy Smith ’24 

Background: For the first time since 2019, men’s baseball will take to Forbes Field for a full season of NESCAC competition. Last year, the team competed with a 15-man roster and a limited NESCAC West-only schedule. Playing just eight games, Middlebury went 2–6, but boasted two All-NESCAC honorees: Andrew Ashley ’24 and Sammy Smith ’24. The three 2022 captains — Gough, Ritch and Price — took the 2020–2021 year off to be eligible for two final seasons. Back to an almost 40-man squad, the team looks to claim its second overall NESCAC Championship title. First pitch of the season is scheduled for March 5 in Troy, New York, versus Bates College.

Key competitions: Johns Hopkins (Away, March 20); Williams (Home, April 15–16); Amherst (Home, April 22–23)

Golf - Men’s

by Blaise Siefer

Head coach: Bill Beaney (34th year)

Captains: Chris Thompson ’22, KJ Dieker ’22

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Athletes to watch for: Hogan Beazley ’23, Sean McGarrity ’23, Colin McCaigue ’24 

Background: The Panthers enter the spring as reigning NESCAC Champions, taking home the title last May in South Hadley, Massachusetts. A key factor in the Panthers’ success last year was Jordan Bessalel ’21, the 2020-21 NESCAC Player of the Year––needless to say, men’s golf has some big shoes to fill. But it’s not an impossible challenge. Hogan Beazley ’23 has been a star performer for Middlebury in recent years, and Sean McGarrity ’23 and Colin McCaigue ’24 are also players to watch. The NESCAC is always a competitive league — teams like Trinity College will certainly offer stiff competition — but don’t count out the Panthers this season. 

Key competitions: Tim Brown Invitational (Away, April 9–10); Williams Spring Invitational (Away, April 16–17); NESCAC Championships (Away, April 30–May 1)

Golf - Women’s 

by Blaise Siefer

Head coach: Bill Mandigo (33rd year)

Captains: Maddy Cordeiro ’23, Katie Murphy ’23

Athletes to watch for: Sophia Hwang ’24, Jacqueline Slinkard ’24, Audrey Tir ’25

Background: Women’s golf finished second in the NESCAC Fall Qualifier in October, at only 15 combined strokes behind first-place Amherst. The Mammoths enter the spring as the team to beat, but the Panthers shuffle in shortly behind them. Many young players emerged for Middlebury in the fall — take Audrey Tir ’25, for example, who led the Panthers in last fall’s Qualifier — and only time will tell how high they can soar. The Panthers are in line for a solid spring season.  

Key competitions: Vassar College Invitational (Away, April 16–17); Jack Leaman Invitational (Away, April 23–24); NESCAC Championships (Away, April 30–May 1)

Lacrosse - Men’s

by Blaise Siefer

Head coach: Dave Campbell ’00 (15th year)

Captains: Andrew Ng ’22, Kyle McFetridge ’22, Jack Sheehan ’22.5, Luke Simpson ’23

Athletes to watch for: Tyler Forbes ’23, Will Ryan ’23, Will Zink ’23

Background: It’s hard to predict how men’s lacrosse will perform this spring. Last year, the Panthers were unable to field a team, with the majority of players taking semesters off. It’s now been about two years since men’s lacrosse last took the field, leaving fans with more questions than answers. There are whispers that this year’s team is looking strong — the Panthers’ attack, for one, should be lights out. Expect Tyler Forbes ’23 and Will Ryan ’23 to run the show offensively, and don’t forget do-it-all playmaker Will Zink ’23. With the defensive end chock-full of leadership, the rumors might be true — this year’s team could be fun to watch.

Key competitions: Bowdoin (Away, March 5); Tufts (Home, April 2); Amherst (Home, April 23)

Lacrosse - Women’s

by Isabella Marcus 

Head coach: Kate Livesay ’03 (7th year)

Captains: Emma White ’22, Erin Nicholas ’22, Grace Getman ’22

Athletes to watch for: Lily Riseberg ’22, Madeline Riordan ’22, Jane Earley ’23

Background: The last time Middlebury women’s lacrosse took to the field for a full season in 2019, the team walked away with a National Championship and near perfect 22–1 record. In a shortened 2020 season, the squad went 3–0, outscoring opponents by up to 19 points. Despite graduating half of its starters, Middlebury looks to regroup with two new classes of players and three USA Lacrosse Magazine Preseason All-Americans (Jane Earley ’23, 1st team; Erin Nicholas ’22, 1st team; Emma White ’22, 2nd team). Led by a group of veteran captains, the team has hopes for an 11th NESCAC Championship and eighth NCAA title. In the IWLCA preseason poll, Middlebury ranks No. 11, the highest ranking among teams who did not compete in the 2021 season.

Key competitions: York (Away, March 22); Tufts (Away, April 2); Colby (Home, April 16)

Softball - Women’s

by Emily Jones

Head coach: Kelly Bevere ’99 (18th year)

Captains: Sophia Marlino ’22, Noelle Ruschil ’22, Jen McGann ’22, Sophie Bolinger ’22

Athletes to watch for: Jewel Ashbrook ’23, Abby Santis ’23, Megan Fox ’24

Background: After back-to-back losing seasons, women’s softball will look to make a comeback this spring. The team is led by a strong core of senior players, with Noelle Ruschil ’22 and Sophia Marlino ’22 standing as two of the Panthers’ most important players. Defeating conference rivals like Tufts and Williams will be no easy feat — in the past nine seasons, one of those two programs has won the league title — but the Panthers should bring great energy and fight this season.

Key competitions: Amherst (Away, April 2); Williams (Home, April 9); Hamilton (Away, April 16) 

Tennis - Men’s 

by Charles Crounse

Head coach: Andrew Thomson ’10 (5th year)

Captains: Zach Hilty ’22, Stan Morris ’22, David Vilys ’22

Athletes to watch for: Aidan Harris ’23, Robby Ward ’23, Noah Laber ’24 

Background: Fans can expect big things from this year’s men’s tennis team as the Panthers return to defend their NESCAC title from the 2018-19 season, when the competition was last held. The Panthers enjoyed a strong first half of the season in tournament action, with men’s duo Noah Laber ’24 and Aidan Harris ’23 claiming the doubles’ victory at the ITA Regional Championships before Stan Morris ’22 took home the individual title at the ITA Cup. The team is a juggernaut within the NESCAC division; they have made the division final every year since the 2012–13 season and have recorded nine titles. The squad will also hope to make a run in the NCAA tournament and improve upon their semifinal finish from 2019.

Key competitions: Tufts (Home, March 12); Williams (Home, April 16); Bowdoin (Home, May 1)

Tennis - Women’s

by Charles Crounse

Head coach: Rob Barr (5th year)

Captain: Nora Lima Dahl ’22

Athletes to watch for: Gena Huang ’24, Sahana Raman ’25, Claudia Miller ’25 

Background:  The women’s tennis team is on a mission this season. With four consecutive defeats in the NESCAC finals, the Panthers are looking to finally claim a league title, and this year could be shaping up to be the year they end their finals misfortunes. The team is packed with talent and their first-year class was particularly eye-catching in the fall season. Sahana Raman ’25 claimed the ITA Championship singles title before finishing runner-up in the ITA Cup, and the tandem of Raman and Claudia Miller ’25 advanced to the semifinals of the ITA Championship. With a slew of talented underclassmen eager to prove themselves for their first time in NESCAC competition and a capable leader in Nora Lima Dahl ’22, the Panthers could be eyeing the NESCAC title as well as a deep run in the national tournament.

Key competitions: Tufts (Home, March 12); Colby (Home, April 30); Bowdoin (Home, May 1)

Track & Field - Men’s

by Emily Jones

Head coach: Martin Beatty ’84 (34th year) 

Captains: Max Memeger ’22, Dan Brey ’22, Noah Whiting ’22, Will Behm ’22, ​​Zander Kessler ’22.5

Athletes to watch for: Max Cluss ’23, Colin Breen ’24, Santi Canella ’25

Background: Although it’s been two years since the NESCAC Championship was held, let’s not forget that Middlebury won back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019. Martin Beatty ’84 has constructed a dominant program in Addison County and the Panthers show no signs of slowing down this spring. Expect big contributions from members of the first-year class, like Santi Canella ’25, who tied the school record in the triple jump in January; and Caleb Fineske, a first-year jumper who showed significant improvement in the winter season. The distance team should also be strong, with runners like Drew Donahue ’25, Max Cluss ’23, and Zander Kessler ’22.5 coming off strong indoor seasons. 

Key competitions: Amherst Spring Fling (Away, April 9); NESCAC Championships (Away, April 30); D-III New England Championships (Away, May 6–7)

Track & Field - Women’s 

by Emily Jones

Head coach: Martin Beatty ’84 (34th year) 

Captains: Julia Munz ’22, Jackie Topping ’22, Cassie Kearney ’22, Cady Barns ’22.5 

Athletes to watch for:  Katelyn Pease ’22, Mary Scott Robinson ’24, Zoe Wang ’25

Background: Women’s track and field enters the spring after placing sixth at D-III New England Championships. There is talent all over this year’s roster, from first-year Zoe Wang ’25 to senior Cassie Kearney ’22. Just like the men’s side, the women’s team is strong in both distance and field events, which is generating a lot of optimism headed into the spring. Expect big things from the women’s track and field team this season!

Key competitions: Amherst Spring Fling (Away, April 9); NESCAC Championships (Away, April 30); D-III New England Championships (Away, May 6–7)

Isabella Marcus

Isabella Marcus is a sports editor.

Blaise Siefer

Blaise Siefer ‘23.5 is a sports staff writer.

Siefer is majoring in Sociology and minoring in Spanish.

For three semesters in 2021 and 2022, Siefer served as Senior Sports Editor. He also co-founded a Middlebury sports recap podcast, PFL Weekly, which is released on all major streaming platforms every Tuesday. 

Siefer is also the Co-Founder and Co-President of Middlebury Club Soccer.

Charles Crounse

Charles Crounse '24 (he/him) is the senior sports editor for the Campus. He has previously worked as a writer and staff editor for the section. Charles is pursuing a major in environmental policy and a minor in French, and in his free time he enjoys biking, hiking, and exploring Vermont. He is also a member of the club soccer team on campus.

Emily Jones

Jones is majoring in Sociology and Anthropology.

While this is her first year writing for The Campus, Jones brings extensive writing experience from her work as a tutor at the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research. She has  produced a year-long independent project on grading models and academic wellbeing at Middlebury and also works as the marketing manager for an outdoor apparel startup, SheFly Apparel.

In addition, Jones serves as a volunteer firefighter for the town’s fire department and is a member of the women's water polo team.