Late April and early May is jam-packed for the seniors on Colorado School of Mines baseball and softball teams — Senior Day games, conference tournament play, finals, graduation, celebrations with their loved ones and more.
“It’s crazy,” softball’s Sadriena Rodriguez said. “I’m just trying to soak in every day, because they’re limited.”
Baseball’s Danny McDermott remarked how everyone says college goes by fast, but didn't personally grasp it until his final home games April 28-30.
“It feels like I was a freshman two days ago, and now here I am on Senior Day,” McDermott said.
On April 29, the Mines baseball and softball teams recognized their 16 combined seniors — eight on each team — during their final home games of the season.
Mines baseball split its April 28-30 games against MSU-Denver 2-2, including a walk-off victory over the Roadrunners April 29. Meanwhile, the softball team’s April 28 doubleheader against Colorado Mesa was canceled because of field conditions, and the Orediggers split the April 29 doubleheader.
Their Senior Day victories also helped both teams secure spots in their respective conference tournaments.
“It was just an awesome day,” Rodriguez said of the softball team’s Senior Day doubleheader. “It was great to see everyone shine and do their part.”
There’s no plate like home
The Mines softball team had a great start against Colorado Mesa April 29, winning the first game 3-0. Rodriguez, a left-handed pitcher, was one batter away from a no-hitter, spinning her fifth shutout of the year and her fourth game with at least 10 strikeouts.
In the second game, the Orediggers took an impressive 5-1 lead in the fourth inning, thanks to an inside-the-park home run by senior Emilee Sloan. With a teammate on third base, Sloan smacked the ball down the left-field line and it rolled out toward the fence.
She’s now driven in 11 runs in her career and had two inside-the-park homers.
In the seventh inning, the Mavericks took the lead back with four runs and their defense prevented the Orediggers from answering at the bottom of the inning.
While it wasn’t the ending they wanted for their final home game, Rodriguez and Sloan were proud of their teammates’ efforts. They hoped to maintain that fighting spirit as they take on Colorado Mesa again May 4 in the conference tournament.
After that, it’ll be graduation and then onto new adventures.
Rodriguez will be working as a project engineer for a Houston construction company, and Sloan is returning to Mines next year to complete her master’s degree. Even though she has another year of eligibility, Sloan said she wanted to play her last season with the seven other seniors she started with.
“These are my best friends,” she said. “ … The support that I got when I hit that home run, it just made me feel so special. Because I know they love and care for me, just as much as I love them.”
Rodriguez remarked how far the seniors have come since they joined the team freshman year, and learned how to play “a different way of softball” together. Now, even though they’re all going their separate ways, Rodriguez was confident they’d find their way back someday.
“I want them to know that I love them so much, with all of my heart,” she continued. “ … Just know that we have a home at Mines, and we all come back to each other.”
Clear eyes, full count, can’t lose
On the baseball side of the athletic complex, the Orediggers managed to steal two wins away from the No. 13-ranked MSU-Denver Roadrunners.
After a 10-1 loss on April 28, Mines rallied in the first game of the April 29 Senior Day doubleheader, and won 4-3 with a walk-off. The Roadrunners won the second game, though, racking up 14 runs to the Orediggers’ 7.
Among the seniors’ accomplishments over the weekend, Caden Bonds batted .500 on Senior Day with two runs on three hits, including his first homer of the season and eighth of his career.
On April 30, in their final game at Jim Darden Field, the Mines seniors helped their team dominate over MSU-Denver, winning 17-6.
McDermott, who had a grand slam in his final home game, said there’s still plenty of Mines baseball left. The Orediggers finish out the regular season May 5-6 at UCCS before starting up the postseason.
Still, McDermott and Bonds said the Senior Day games were bittersweet, saying the reality didn’t fully hit them until they walked out onto the field with their parents during the ceremony.
“There’s something in the air this weekend,” Bonds said. “You can feel it.”
The two are both graduate students who’ve played together all five years, saying they’ve developed special bonds with each other and their fellow seniors. They described how, going through pictures from their freshman year, how young they were and how much they’ve been through together since then.
Now, McDermott is off to work at a nuclear treatment company in North Dakota, while Bonds is staying in Denver to work for an oil company. The two already have plans to attend next year’s Senior Day/Alumni Weekend games, where it might feel a bit surreal to be in the stands rather than on the field.
“As much as it sucks leaving,” Bonds said, “I think it’s something exciting to look forward to.”