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Monday, Mar 4, 2024

Middlebury spring sports get set to start their seasons

The Middlebury women’s lacrosse team celebrates a victory during their 2022 NCAA Championship season
The Middlebury women’s lacrosse team celebrates a victory during their 2022 NCAA Championship season

After a successful spring last season that saw women’s lacrosse, baseball, women’s track and field and men’s tennis all win championships, expectations for Middlebury sports teams are high for this spring. The sports editors for the campus came together to preview each team competing this spring.

Baseball

Head Coach: Mike Leonard

Captains: Andrew Gough ’23, Alex Price ’23, Alec Ritch ’23, Jack Stolper ’23, John Collins ’23

Athletes to Watch: Zip Malley ’24, Chris Borter ’24, Sammy Smith ’24

Background: Middlebury baseball tore up the NESCAC last season going 10–2 in conference en route to a championship season. That high quality of play earned the Panthers their second NCAA tournament berth in program history. Although Eastern Connecticut University — who went on to become NCAA Champions — knocked them out, the team still managed to break around two dozen records in their prolific 31–14 season. The team’s offense towered over the rest of the league as they scored over 100 more runs than the next most effective offense in Tufts and a team on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of .975. Middlebury’s pitching also looks to continue its success as it struck out more batters than any other NESCAC program and ranked fourth in Earned Run Average (ERA). Defensively, the Panthers look to improve after ranking near the bottom of the league in fielding percentage last year (they made more errors than anyone, but they also converted the most double plays). However, fielding statistics rarely tell the entirety of a team’s fielding success. This season, look to Ritch, a two-way player coming off an amazing season at the plate and on the mound. With a lot of strength in the senior and junior class, this is a dangerous team looking to get back into the NCAA tournament.

Key competitions: Wesleyan University (home, April 7), Hamilton College (home, Senior Day, April 15), Amherst College (away, April 29)

Softball

Head Coach: Kelly Bevere ’99

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Captains: Lizzie Hannafey ’23, Tori Papaleo ’23, Abby Santis ’23

Athletes to Watch: Megan Fox ’24, Jordyn Johnson ’23, Abby Santis ’23

Background: Middlebury softball reeled off an impressive 20–10 season last year after suffering back-to-back losing seasons prior to 2022. Despite their regular season success, the team fell short in the NESCAC semifinals last year, losing 9–3 to division rival Tufts. Similar to the baseball team, Middlebury’s offense carried the team with a league high .345 team batting average. Yet, as newer statistics have shown, the team was unable to use that bat-to-ball skill to score as much as their competitors, ranking fifth in the league in runs scored. On the mound, the Panthers ranked fourth with a 3.02 team ERA, which while excellent in its own right, also paled in comparison to league-leading Tufts’ 1.41 team ERA. The main storyline this season will be seeing how last year’s contributors like Johnson and Santis continue to mature as team leaders in the clubhouse in their senior year, and how that will stack up to Tufts’ dominance. Turning that good offense into runs scored, along with keeping up a consistent pitching performance, will be key to the Panther’s success as they eye their first championship since 2011.

Key competitions: Amherst College (home, April 8), Williams College (home, Senior Day, April 22), Hamilton College (away, May 6)

Women’s Track and Field

Head Coach: Martin Beatty ’84

Captains: Eva Kaiden ’23, Kate Kenny ’23, Audrey Grimes ’23, Bri Johnson ’23

Athletes to Watch: Ciara Dale ’24, Emily Rubio ’26, Katie Bruno ’26, Annabel Cloney ’26, Melissa White ’26

Background: The women’s track and field team looks to continue its success after placing fourth in the Division III New England Championships last weekend. The team has seen meteoric success from the first years, such as Katie Bruno ’26, Annabel Clooney ’26 and Melissa White ’26. Together with captain Eva Kaiden ’23, they formed a formidable force in the 4x200 event. Also look out for Emily Rubio ’26, fresh off a pentathlon win last weekend, to round out the young core of the women’s track team. Last spring, the team won NESCACs outright, so the team hopes to, and can, recapture that championship form.

Key competitions: Middlebury Outdoor Invitational (home, April 22), NESCAC Championships (away, April 29), Open New England Championships (away, May 13), NCAA Championships (away, May 27)

Men’s Track and Field

Head Coach: Martin Beatty ’84

Captains: Peter Hansen ’23, Isaac Kaplan ’23, Max Cluss ’23, Lucas Donovan-Lafuente ’23

Athletes to Watch: Marco Motroni ’25, Zander Kessler ’23, Peter Hansen ’23

Background:

After a successful indoor track season, the men’s track and field team is beginning to shift their focus towards the spring season and getting back outside. At the Division III New England Championships this past weekend, the Panthers placed 13th out of the 25 teams competing. At the event, Quinn Kennedy ’26 set the school record for the heptathlon, Cluss placed fourth in the mile with a time of 4:09.98 and Aidan Castanon ’26 placed seventh in the 60-yard dash with a time of 7.02 seconds. The men’s track and field team will hopefully try to build upon this success as the season progresses.

Key competitions: NCAA Indoor Championship (Birmingham, Ala., March 10–11), Amherst Spring Fling (Amherst, Mass., April 8), Middlebury Outdoor Invitational (home, April 22)

Men’s Tennis

Head Coach: Andrew Thomson ’10

Captains: Andrew Mueller ’23.5, Robby Ward ’23.5, Aidan Harris ’23.5

Athletes to Watch: Neel Epstein ’25, Robby Ward ’23.5, Zihao Yuan ’24

Background:

The Middlebury men’s tennis team had a prolific season last year. The team, having a record of 21–3, won their second consecutive NESCAC final, reached the semifinals in the NCAA Men’s Tennis Team Championship and saw Stan Morris ’22 win the NCAA Men’s Singles Championship. This year, the team hopes to continue their recent success. Despite losing key contributors like Morris, David Vilys ’22 and Zachary Hilty ’22, the men’s tennis team still has immense talent. Epstein, for instance, reached the men’s singles quarterfinals in the ITA Regional Championships this past fall. The men’s tennis team should hopefully stay atop of the NESCAC and compete for a national championship this season.

Key competitions: Trinity College and St. Michael’s College (home, March 4), Tufts University (away, March 11), Williams College (away, April 8)

Women’s Tennis

Head Coach: Taka Bertrand

Captains: Amanda Frank ’23.5, Brinlea La Barge ’23

Athletes to Watch: Sahana Raman ’25, Charlotte McCann ’26, Claudia Miller ’25

Background:

Despite having a successful 18–6 season last year, the women’s tennis team suffered a couple close losses in the playoffs. In the NESCAC Championships, the team lost 5–4 to Wesleyan in the finals, and in the NCAA Women’s Tennis Team Championships, they lost to the University of Chicago in the finals. The team, however, has many young stars, and they look to build on their regular season success from last year and hopefully have more postseason success. The team saw a number of successes in the fall. At the ITA Regional Championships, McCann won the Singles B Draw, and Raman and Gena Huang ’24 advanced to the quarter finals of the Doubles Main Draw.

Key competitions: Trinity College (Home, March 4), Tufts University (Away, March 11), Wesleyan University (Home, March 26)

Men’s Golf

Coach: Bill Beaney

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

Background:

After a successful fall that culminated with the team finishing in second place at the New England Intercollegiate Golf (NEIGA) Championships, the men’s golf team will be looking to ride a late burst of momentum from the fall season heading into the spring. McCaigue has distinguished himself as a key contributor to the team’s success after placing second in the Ekwanok Sap Bucket Challenge. McGarrity has begun to gain attention after his stellar performances at the NEIGA Championships, during which he earned medalist honors and led the Panthers to a second place finish. Beazley has been a reliable constant throughout all of the Panther’s major tournaments. With a month left before the start of the season, the Panthers will have ample time to regroup and prepare as they make their bid for aNESCAC Championship.

Key Competitions: Tim Brown Invitational (away, April 8–9), Williams Spring Invitational (away, April 22–23)

Women’s Golf

Coach: Bill Mandigo

Athletes to watch: Katie Murphy ’23, Jacqueline Slinkard ’24, Audrey Tir ’25

Background:

Consistency has been key this year for the women’s golf team. Having finished in the top half of every tournament, invitational and qualifier last semester, the team appears poised to break out for a strong spring season. The lack of roster changes and successful performances at the NESCAC Qualifiers and NEIGA Championships bode well for the Panthers, ensuring that resolve will carry over to the spring. The roster has new and returning talent alike, creating a well-rounded squad that is capable of taking on any challenge thrown their way. Murphy has established herself as the team’s lead competitor after finishing in the top five at the NEIGA Championships. Slinkard has also made waves after getting herself on the board across the team’s previous three competitions. Tir gives graduating Panthers reason to be optimistic about the team’s future after finishing seventh overall at the NEIGA Championships as well as placing in the top half of golfers during the Phinney Classic. With just over a month to prepare for the spring season, the Panthers will surely be hard at work in preparing to bring home a crown.

Key Competitions: Cortland Martin/Wallace Invitational (away, April 15–16), Jack Leaman Invitational (away, April 22–23)

Men’s Lacrosse

Coach: Dave Campbell

Captains: Jack Sheehan ’23, Luke Simpson ’23, Tyler Forbes ’23, Tom Conley ’23.5, Finn Muldoon ’23.5

Athletes to watch: Jack Sheehan ’23, Tyler Forbes ’23, William Ryan ’24, Russell Thorndike ’25, Billy Curtis ’25

Background: Men’s lacrosse will be looking to improve on a disappointing 2022 season that saw the team finish with an 8–8 record and lose in the first round of the NESCAC Championships. The team roster has undergone few changes since last season. Sheehan established himself as the team’s top scorer, posting 37 goals during the season, alongside fellow captain Forbes with 21. Ryan,Thorndike and Curtis round out the top five goal scorers on the team, presenting a bright future for the Panthers as they look to their regular and championship seasons with increased vigor. With the first game of the season right around the corner, it will be interesting to see how the Panthers respond to last year’s adversity.

Key Competitions: Bowdoin (home, March 4), Connecticut College (away, March 11), Trinity College (home, March 18)

Women’s Lacrosse

Coach: Kate Livesay ’03

Captains: Jane Earley ’23, Erica Barr ’23, Annie Enrietto ’23

Athletes to watch: Jane Earley ’23, Susan Rowley ’24, Hope Shue ’25

Background: The 2022 women’s lacrosse season saw a near-perfect run by the Panthers, laying waste to any unfortunate team that found itself standing in front of the opposite goal. Accolades were strewn among the team’s feet: NESCAC most goals scored, NESCAC least goals conceded, a perfect in-conference record, 23–1 overall record and NCAA DIII Champions. While there’s no guarantee that this trophy case of achievements will be repeated, it is certain that the women’s lacrosse team will be looking to continue their dominant performances during the 2023 spring season. Aiding these attempts is the fact that the roster largely remains the same with many key contributors and depth pieces returning for another season. Earley should be at the forefront of each opposing team’s mind after tallying up a mind-blowing 80 goals during the previous season. Flanking her on the stat sheet and on the field are Rowley and Shue, both of whom were consistent contributors to the Panthers’ successes during last season’s playoffs and ranked among the top three goal scorers at 35 and 56 goals respectively. With the season kicking off on March 4, students should look to see just how high this team can climb.

Key Competitions: Bowdoin (away, March 4), Tufts (home, April 1), Colby (away, April 15)


Ryan Heinzerling

Ryan Heinzerling '24 (he/him/his) is one of the Sports Editors!  

He's studying English and Political Science. Outside of his studies, Ryan is also a member of the Middlebury College Ski Patrol, has a radio show at WRMC, and spent this previous summer working as a Corporate Partners Intern at the New York Mets!


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