Trying to Break In

By Ryan Pfleiderer

It’s an uphill battle for minor league baseball players.  There’s only space for 25 guys on the major league roster and that makes it tough to break into the bigs.   But, no one on the Pawtucket Red Sox is going to give up on his childhood dream of playing at the major league level.

Photo by Barry Chin/Boston Globe

There are 15 members of the PawSox who have already made their major league debuts, but getting back up to the big league club isn’t easy.  “Those guys up there you know are in the big leagues for a reason, but at the same time guys down here are really good too and it definitely prepares you,” Pawtucket outfielder Ryan Kalish said.

Last year Kalish made his major league debut and ended up playing in 53 games for an injury-ridden Red Sox squad.  This year, the Red Sox outfield is healthy again and Kalish finds himself back in Rhode Island at the Triple-A level.  “The season is your preparing… you’re trying to become a better player.  If they need you up there then you can be ready,” he said.

Getty Images

Kalish isn’t the only outfielder of the PawSox who made his major league debut last season.  Daniel Nava was called up last June and made sure that Red Sox Nation wouldn’t forget his name.  In his first at-bat, Nava crushed a grand slam, earning himself a spot on the roster and 187 more plate appearances.  But, fast-forward a year later and Nava is getting plate appearances at McCoy Stadium instead of Fenway Park.  “I don’t focus on it because… I got to do my job before that even becomes a possibility. I’m not focused on that, I mean I think if you ask anybody you want to see them do well up there,” he said.  Nava will need to find his stroke before he can make it back up to Boston; in 13 games with Pawtucket, the outfielder is hitting just .186 with no home runs and just 2 RBIs.  But Nava will try to use his big league experience to improve on his game.  “You do learn a lot up there while you’re up there and you try to anytime you get an opportunity to come and to play… you’re always trying to find ways to improve,” he said.

Photo by TJ Perr

Lars Anderson didn’t spend as much time in the bigs as Kalish and Nava, but he did get a taste of the majors.  Last season, the first baseman had 35 at-bats with Boston and was invited to join the team for Spring Training in Ft. Myers, Florida.  “Well it helps you get ready, but you really can’t put too much stock into the spring. I’ve seen guys have amazing springs and have bad starts to their season… I mean anything can happen once the season starts. So I think it’s important to keep that perspective,” he said.  The 23-year-0ld lefty has quickly made his way through the Red Sox organization.  Anderson was drafted out of high school and spent two years playing Single-A ball before he was promoted to the Red Sox Double-A affiliate, the Portland Sea Dogs.  Two seasons later he made the jump from Portland to Pawtucket and eventually to the big league club.  The 6’4″ slugger will have to wait a little while longer before he gets a promotion, but he could find himself back up at the major league level when rosters are expanded near the end of the season.

Photo by Dylan Heuer

Young players aren’t the only ones trying to break out of the minors, there are plenty of veterans who start the season in Triple-A.  35-year-old Brandon Duckworth made his major league debut 10 years ago and has pitched in over 130 big league games, but he’s in the Pawtucket starting rotation.  Rich Hill is in the same boat; the 31-year-old southpaw is trying to make it back up to the big leagues after spending six seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox.  But it doesn’t matter how much big league experience a player has, it’s all about how he’s playing right now.  Duckworth and Hill will have to wait their turns just like Kalish, Nava and Anderson are doing.  It’s not easy to wait for a spot on the big league roster to open up, but these PawSox are in a good position to make the jump to the majors when a place in the dugout becomes available.

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ECSB: Return to the top

By, Ben Barker

It only took two days to return to the top. After a 4-8 start to the 2011 season, the Emerson College Lions have roared back to the top of the GNAC. The Lions bundled up this weekend and swept two doubleheaders against two division rivals. The first came on

Saturday.  St. Joseph’s College of Maine watched leads of 6-3 and  8-3 disappear after big home runs off the bats of Bianca Buono and Kelsey Tuthill. The winnings streak continued on Sunday when Johnson and Wales University was blanked by Emerson. The Lions’ starters didn’t allow an earned run in 12.0 innings against the Wildcats, and finished off the weekend with a 4 game winning streak.

The action didn’t go unheard. All four games this weekend were broadcast online via Ben Barker and Ryan Pfleiderer broadcast the games for listeners across the nation from the center field press box. The duo will continue this trend all season long, alternating between play-by-play and color analysis to keep all Emerson College sports fans up to speed on the latest softball action.

By season’s end, a radio style highlight reel will be produced and distributed to the team. This way, all the players and fans will have a chance to remember the 2011 season.


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A Giant Update: Wilson Injured, Bullpen Battle

By Ryan Pfleiderer

Wilson’s Injury Could Sideline Him for Opening Day


(Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

As Brian Wilson‘s epically long beard continues to grow, so does the list of injuries the star closer has suffered this spring.  Wilson has a strained ribcage muscle, which could keep him out for the beginning of the regular season.  He had a MRI on Saturday and is going to be reevaluated today.  The bearded closer led the league in saves last season and helped seal several Giants’ playoff victories on their way to a championship.  The Giants do have a few relievers who can fill in for Wilson; right handers Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla have closer-type stuff, and lefty Jeremy Affeldt is having a fantastic spring and could fight for the job.

Huff to See More Time in Left


(Associated Press)

Left field isn’t new territory for Aubrey Huff.  Although he is most comfortable at first base, the slugger isn’t complaining about playing in the outfield.  Last season, Huff played several games in right and left field while Buster Posey played first base.  Now another rookie might push Huff back to the outfield.  First baseman Brandon Belt might not be on the opening day roster, but he’s sure to make an appearance in the big leagues sooner rather than later.  Manager Bruce Bochy wants Huff to get some playing time in left before the season begins just in case Belt gets called up in the first few weeks.

(Photo by Adam Foster)

Brandon Who?

The name’s Belt, Brandon Belt.  And he’s very, very good.  Belt’s raised plenty of eyebrows this spring, especially after his performance against the Chicago White Sox last week.  Belt went 3 for 4 with a home run and 3 RBIs, and came just a triple short of hitting for the cycle.  Mark DeRosa likes what he sees from the youngster: “obviously he can hit. It was good to see him go through a little struggle and get out of it, because every night you’re going to see top-flight pitching. You’ve got to take your lumps and bounce back.”

One Freakish In-N-Out Order

(Jim Caple/ESPN)

The Freak is known for his high-powered fastball and his devastating change-up, but now he’s getting recognition for his favorite fast food order.  Tim Lincecum loves In-N-Out Burger so much that each time he visits the fast food chain he gets not just one double-double, not just two double-doubles, but three double-doubles (a double-double is a cheeseburger with two meat patties and two slices of American cheese).  But Lincecum doesn’t stop his order there.  The 5’11”, 160 pound flamethrower adds two orders of fries (cooked in cholesterol-free oil of course) and a chocolate-strawberry milkshake to top it all off.  The junk-food junkie’s dream meal adds up to 3150 calories; but as long as he keeps pitching the way he does, no one’s going to stop him from hitting the drive-thru.

Cain You Dig It?

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Matt Cain is on a tear.  The starting pitcher hasn’t allowed an earned run in 31 1/3 innings.  He didn’t allow a single run during the Giants postseason run and he hasn’t given up one in a single outing this spring.  The last team to get a run on the board against the right hander was San Diego, and that was in Cain’s last regular-season start.  Cain had some elbow tendinitis at the beginning of Spring Training, but that hasn’t affected his pitching.  He says he feels good and is ready for the season.

Bullpen Blitz: Who Gets the Last Spot?

(Photo by James Huber)

There’s four pitchers, but only one roster spot.  Jeff Suppan, Ryan Vogelsong, Dan Runzler and Guillermo Mota are fighting for the final spot in the bullpen, but it’s not clear who the favorite is to claim the seat.  Last week, Suppan, Vogelsong and Mota each allowed two runs in an exhibition with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Runzler was impressive in several relief appearances last season before he dislocated his right knee cap while in the batter’s box during a game against the Milwaukee Brewers.  Manager Bruce Bochy says the spot will go to the pitcher who performed best during Spring Training.  If Suppan doesn’t make the team, he has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt out and test the free agency waters.

Opening Day Countdown

10 days until the first pitch of the 2011 Major League Baseball Season




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Baltimore Beat: The state of the Birds

Orioles pitching touched up in loss to Astros

Brad Bergesen continued his up and down spring campaign on Tuesday. The Baltimore starter allowed three runs on four hits in

Brad Bergesen delivers a pitch

four innings of work for the Orioles. The big blow came in the 4th, when Bill Hall took Bergeson deep to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.

Even more bad news followed. Newcomer and expected closer, Kevin Gregg stumbled through 1/3 of an inning, allowing four earned runs. Like Bergeson, Gregg was taken deep. This time, it came in the form of a grand slam off the bat of Brett Wallace.

If this game holds any indication of what the regular season will bring, Baltimore fans should be running for cover. If the Orioles want to succeed in 2011, they will have to bank on their young rotation and experienced bullpen. While Guthrie and Matusz will serve and the number one and two starters, Baltimore’s success is in the hands of the back-end of the rotation, as well as the bullpen.


Vlad continues spring success with new team

Vladimir Guerrero and manager Buck Showalter

Vladimir Guerrero has found the fountain of youth. Guerrero’s spring training success continued in the Orioles 10-0 loss to the Yankees on Wednesday. While it didn’t plate a run, Vlad’s 7th inning double may have been the most impressive of the spring.


The two-bagger came in the midst of a combined no-hitter bid for New York, and perhaps off their best arm. Mariano Rivera served up a fastball and Vlad didn’t miss, splitting the right-center field gap and trotted into second base with Baltimore’s first hit of the night.

The Orioles will need Guerrero to carry his success into the regular season. With a young, talented outfield, Buck Showalter will be able to use Vlad primarily in a DH role. Still, it’s the veteran leadership and experience that the O’s need the most.

Mahoney optioned to Triple-A

The Orioles have sent first base prospect Joseph Mahoney to triple-A Norfolk. The 24 year-old first baseman has done nothing

Joseph Mahoney takes a rip

but produce for Baltimore this spring, but it wasn’t enough to earn him a spot on the big-league roster. Mahoney hit at a .412 clip


for the O’s in his seven games of spring training action. Still, the move doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Baltimore general manager Andy Macphail signed veteran first baseman Derrek Lee during the off-season. Lee, much like Guerrero, will be used for his veteran presence almost as much as his bat.

While Mahoney may not be used much in 2011, he certainly has a future with the Orioles. Lee is only under contract for the 2011 season. Depending on his minor league success this year, Mahoney could take over for Lee in 2012.

Orioles banking on Wieters progression

Matt Wieters

Baltimore’s biggest story line from 2010 will hold the same role in 2011. Last season, Matt Wieters was considered by many to be the best catching prospect in the game. Just one year later, much of that focus has switched to Buster Posey. Matt Wieters has something to prove in 2011. While his skipper will never admit it, the Orioles will live or die with the progression of their young backstop. Last year, Wieters underperformed, ending the season with a .249 batting average. Still, the weight on Wieters’ shoulders goes far beyond the batters box. Baltimore’s young pitching staff will depend heavily on the maturity of the man calling their games.


Lee “OK,” but won’t play

Derrek Lee needs to stay healthy for Baltimore

Derrek Lee can’t seem to stay on the field. After sitting out every spring training game for the Orioles, Lee made his debut on
Saturday. The sweet moment quickly turned sour when Lee fouled a ball off his foot during an at-bat against Phillies’ starter Cole Hamels. Lee would remain in the game before leaving for an MRI. Though the results came back negative, Lee won’t test his tender foot and will sit out Sunday’s action.

Lee missed previous action while recovering from his off-season thumb surgery. If Lee continues to be bitten by the injury bug, Mahoney may be called up to the show sooner than expected.


Orioles trim roster to 40

The Orioles continued to chip away at their spring training roster on Sunday when they reassigned pitcher Wynn Pelzer to the minors. Pelzer didn’t see much action with the Orioles. In four games Pelzer pitched just three and 2/3 innings, surrendering two runs. Pelzer is just 24 years-old and has yet to see big league action during the regular season.


Roberts returns to action

The Orioles were all smiles on Sunday when second baseman Brian Roberts played in his first spring training game in almost a

Brian Roberts returns to action

month. Roberts has been sidelined with back spasms since March 7th. In his return, Roberts went 0-2 with a walk.

The Orioles will need Roberts’ presence on their new and improved infield. This off season, Baltimore’s front office brought in
Derrek Lee, J.J. Hardy, and Mark Reynolds, leaving Brian Roberts the lone returning member of the infield. Roberts played in only 59 games with the Orioles last season, he fewest since joining the club in 2002.

At 32 years-old, Roberts will have to prove that he can still put it all on the field. The Orioles have Roberts signed through the 2013 season, but another injury ridden year could open the door for some of the prospects.

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NBA playoffs: Let’s get real

In case you haven’t noticed, the NBA playoffs have now become the most predictable sports tournament in the country; NCAA March Madness it is not. The fact that the playoffs are based on 7-game series (unlike the NFL), is made up of the best 16 teams in the league, rather than the winners from each division (see ya MLB), and since players actually try hard during the regular season (nice try NHL) all adds up to make a pretty straight forward tourney. Don’t agree? Well here, let’s spell it out for you. Here is our regular season wrap-up/explanations of what teams will actually contend for a spot in the NBA Finals.

Eastern Conference

Boston Celtics – Although we’ve seen mixed results from the Celtics since Danny Ainge went Chriss Angel on their bench, Boston still has the best team in the Eastern Conference. The addition of Nenad Krstic brings the C’s a new offensive threat in the paint, as well as a few more rebounds per game, that they were lacking with Kendrick Perkins. Even so, Jeff Green will be the most important person involved in the trade come playoff time. Forget about being a spark, Green is quickly becoming the firework off the bench. He’s the Five Hour Energy the Celtics will need to win those tough 7-game series. Oh, right, and let’s not forget about the upcoming additions of Shaq and Delonte West. The loss of Kendrick Perkins looks like it will impact the team’s chemistry more than their talent, so it’s up to Doc to get his team revved up and ready to go by April 16.

Key to success – Doc Rivers

Chicago Bulls – Chicago has surprised … well … pretty much everyone this year, challenging the Celtics for the top seed in the East. Michael Jordan aside, Derrick Rose is the best player who has ever dawned a Bulls jersey, and he’s still only 22 years old. Chicago’s native son is a natural born leader, a great scorer, and will most likely be the MVP at the end of the 2011 season. Even so, it’s tough to overlook the impact of the new guys who were brought in during the off-season. Carlos Boozer is a 20-point 10-rebound guy when he’s healthy. Kyle Korver is by far their best 3-point shooter. And Tom Thibideau brings a defensive mentality that will be crucial the deeper this team goes into the playoffs. 

Key to success – Derrick Rose (duh)

Miami Heat – Don’t let their little losing streak fool you, the Heat are a very legitimate playoff contender. If Chris Bosh can toughen up and grab some rebounds, and anyone on the Miami’s bench can find a pulse, LeBron and Wade will do the rest. Of the top three teams in the East, these guys have the worst bench and the worst coach, a bad combination for a deep playoff run. Still, the star power of Miami’s big trio could be all it takes to at least get a glimpse at the NBA Finals.

Key to success – Whichever bench player hits a field goal, gets an assist, or grabs a rebound first

 Western Conference

L.A. Lakers – Record shmecord. The Lakers have to be the favorite to repeat as Western Finals champions. Kobe’s ankle may bother him a little, but he had the same problem last year and look how that turned out. Bynum and Gasol are the most complete front court duo in the West. Throw in a veteran point guard like Derek Fisher and it’s tough to go against the returning NBA Champs.

Key to success – A healthy Andrew Bynum

San Antonio Spurs – You don’t keep a seven game lead on the No. 2 team in your conference by accident. The Spurs are the New England Patriots of the NBA. Like the Patriots, they have one of the smartest coaches in the game, a championship-caliber leader, and a bunch of role players who give in to the team’s system. By far the most well-rounded team, this core bunch has proven over and over again that they know how to win championships, and there’s no reason this year should be an exception.

Key to success – Take your pick, there are 7 keys and the door is already unlocked anyway

Dallas Mavericks – Ugh, here we go again. Dallas is the anti San Antonio. These guys consistently show that no matter how good you look in the regular season you can still blow it all in the playoffs. However, there is one big (like 7′ 1″) difference this year: Tyson Chandler. The Mavs have never had a center like Chandler to pair with Dirk, and that combo could prove to be a menace for both the Lakers and Spurs in a 7-game series. As much as you want them to finally prove they can do it … well, we’ll see how it goes.

 Key to success – Tyson Chandler


Okay okay, so just pretend one of those teams falters a little early. Like KG said, “anything is possible.” Although it’s not likely, here are two teams who could stir up some trouble in their respective conferences:

New York Knicks – The Knicks have finally pulled together what could become a top tier team. Their bench is non-exisant, their defense is lackluster, but they have made steps in the right direction. A leader like Chauncey Billups is the perfect guy to help the rest of this team understand how a playoff team needs to play. Once Carmelo decides to play D, and Amare gets comfortable with the new crew around him, the Knicks could be a nightmare for the aforementioned Eastern clubs.

Denver Nuggets – Everyone expected this squad to roll over and play dead after the Carmelo Anthony trade. Instead, they decided to just keep playing basketball. The young guys on this team now have a freedom that they didn’t have with Carmelo demanding the ball, and Nene has become the unlikely veteran leader for the post-Billups Nuggets. Having already proven they can dominate against other playoff-bound teams without their former star, don’t be too surprised if Denver  shocks Dallas or L.A. in the first round.

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One Final Season

By Ryan Pfleiderer

She could only watch and wait.  It was the bottom of the 7th and she had just scored the game-tying run.  Now the game was out of her hands.  The winning run was waiting at third base and Bridget Farago was at the plate.  Everyone held their breath and looked on.  Then, a base hit.  That’s all it took.  The winning run crossed home plate and the dugout erupted.  She ran and joined in the celebration, a moment she will never forget.

It’s been two years since Lynn Herman and the Emerson softball team beat St. Joesph’s of Maine to win the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Championship.  Now they’re trying to do it again.  This season Herman is a senior captain and a starting outfielder for the Lions.  She has high expectations for 2011.  “I always expect the best.  I expect our team to win.  We’re definitely good enough to win GNACs and move forward and do well in the NCAA tournament,” Herman said.

courtesy of Jessica Silva

Herman’s passion for softball started at an early age.  She started playing competitively when she was nine and hasn’t taken a break.  If she’s not playing on a team, she’s giving pitching and hitting lessons.  Her commitment to the sport is unquestioned; fellow captain Sierra Wood describes Herman as a team player.  “She’s a leader and a great teammate.  Lynn is a smart player and comes through in the clutch,” Wood said.

Herman says the mental aspect of the game is the toughest part.  “It’s overwhelming and it can carry on after the game, even days after…  It’s a game of failure.  If you fail seven out of ten times, you’re successful,” she said.

Luckily Herman has teammates she can count on to help her out during a tough game.  “I’ve built really good relationships with some of these girls.  Chemistry helps a lot, especially with softball.  This isn’t the first time I’ve done this, I have a more relaxed feel and confidence going into this season,” she said.

courtesy of Jessica Silva

Herman demonstrates that confidence every time she steps up to the plate.  Last season she set two NCAA Division III records when she hit four home runs in a single game.  Until Herman did it, no player in NCAA Division III history had hit that many home runs in one game.  Two of her home runs came in the same inning, a feat no one had ever accomplished in a NCAA Division III game.

“It was one of those things that we didn’t talk about during the game.  The entire time I was thinking, ‘what is going on?'” Herman said.

“Her strength is at the plate,” Wood said.  “She sees the ball well and has a lot of power.”

Herman’s power performance did not go unrecognized; she was named the NCAA Division III National Softball Player of the Week.  But Herman isn’t one to focus on her personal accomplishments, she’d rather win a championship than set a record.

“It’s always about the team.  We all work really hard in preseason and in California to come to a point where we can take over the GNAC,” she said.  “I spend so much time with the girls, we practice six times a week, we have games on weekends, we travel together.  They’re my sisters.  You build relationships that translate on and off the field.”

Each season Herman builds a special relationship with one of her teammates that she designates as her “personal hair-braider.”  Herman has played every single game with her hair in a braid, a tradition that she has made sure never to break.  “When I was in travel ball, my mom used to have to braid my hair.  When I got to college, I held auditions for people to be my designated braider,” she said.

This year’s designated braider is fellow captain Kendal Peiguss.  Peiguss, Wood and Herman are the leaders of the team and are the link between the players and the coaches.  “It’s good to have three of us, and we all have different personalities, so we connect to different players,” Herman said.

A successful team doesn’t just rely on skill.  Chemistry is a key factor in success and Herman says the Lions have plenty of it.

“We communicate really well together, whether it’s telling each other how many outs there are or where to throw the ball.  Every once in a while things are tense, so I make a joke to make it lighter.  It’s a game we love to play, it’s important to remember that every once in a while,” she said.

courtesy of Jessica Silva

Although her collegiate career is coming to a close, Herman is going to continue to use her playing skills.  Herman is an ambassador for the Boston Red Sox, which means she’ll be covering the foul lines at Fenway Park as a ball girl.  Her main duties: protect the crowd from screaming liners and give foul balls to young Red Sox fans.

But before Herman takes her talent to Fenway, she still has one final season left to play.  Her goal: bring home a championship.  “My sophomore year, we won the GNAC.  That’s how I hope this season goes,” she said.  With so much enthusiasm for the game, it’s going to be difficult stopping her.

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Battling Back

Emerson Athletes Overcoming Injuries

By, Ben Barker


It was a play he had made a thousand times before. Twenty games into his sophomore season; Austin Fontanella was roaming his usual center field position for the Emerson College Lions when a lazy fly ball ruined his year. “I [lost] it in the sun,” said Fontanella. “I tried to block it with my glove I just can’t see a thing… it just plopped right there on my right finger, just slammed it.”

Putting the game first, Austin fired the ball to second base for the force out before checking his hand. “It was crooked and there

Austin Fontanella

was blood and all of this stuff underneath it,” said Fontanella. Still, the tough sophomore wanted to remain in the game. The team trainer punctured Fontanella’s fingernail with a needle to drain the liquid. “When it happened I was at short and thought it had clipped him in the nads,” said Emerson shortstop Ryan Garber.”But once I got into the dugout I saw his finger looked like a zombie. Then the trainer used a tool to release the pressure, and he nearly squeezed off Lopes‘ hand.”

After the game, Fontanella went to the hospital. There, he received an x-ray that revealed he had broken his finger. Initially, the doctors told Fontanella that he would be unable to play for the remainder of the year. “The first doctor wanted to put me in a splint and say you’re done for the year,” said Austin. “The other doctor said, if you can take the pain, do it. So, I just taped my finger.”

Although Austin avoided sitting on the bench for the remained of his sophomore year, his performance on the field was severely hindered. “I couldn’t really grip a bat, so swinging for me was a pain.”

In his first game back for Emerson, the pain proved to be too much. Fontanella came to the plate against Suffolk University with a badly bruised finger taped for support. “I hit the ball and I just felt pain down my whole finger,” said Fontanella. “I ended up bunting in that at-bat because I couldn’t hold the bat anymore.”

But not even the excruciating pain could keep Fontanella off the field when the playoffs rolled around. “I wanted to play no matter what,” said Austin. “It was a huge game for us.” Fontanella played in the game, and Emerson went on to win.

While Austin’s story draws cringes from athletes all over, he is not alone. Fellow Emerson athlete Kendal Peiguss has a similarstory. Peiguss, a shortstop by trade, was playing right field in an Emerson College softball playoff game against Rivier College, when she too, was bitten by the Emerson injury bug. “The score was one to one late in the game with a runner on third

Kendal Peiguess

base,” said Peiguss. “[There was] A Texas leaguer right on the grass line… [I] Catch it and then land on my glove. I broke my own arm.”

But just like Fontanella, Peiguss put the game first. “[I] Flipped it up to the second baseman who threw the girl out at home because she was tagging.”

A shattered right radius had Peiguss sidelined for the reminder of the game. From there, she would watch her team lose in extra innings, eliminating Emerson from the playoffs. “That was rough,” said Peiguss. “[I was] doing what I could but trying not to be distracting. There wasn’t very much I could do.”

Fortunately for Emerson College athletics, these stories have happy endings. Both Fontanella and Peiguss are fully recovered and their teammates are happy to have them back. “We need his range in the outfield,” said Garber. He is a leader out there being an upper classmen, so him coming back from that is pivotal to the structure of our outfield.”

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