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Softball finishes second UAA Championships, split first home series

By Hannah Vickers

Section: Sports

March 19, 2010

PHOTO BY Andrew Rauner/The Hoot

The Brandeis softball team finished the University Athletic Association Championship on Sunday with the best conference ranking since 1999. With a 5-3 record in the conference, the Judges tied for second place with the Washington University of St. Louis Bears. The Emory University Eagles took the top spot after going 6-2.

Their solid performance garnered attention by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), who ranked Brandeis at No. 14. The Judges are now 8-4 overall.

The Judges had to play a triple-header last Saturday and another game Sunday to finish out the Championship after two days of rainouts.

After defeating the Bears 9-6 earlier in the week, the Judges completed their first-ever season sweep of Wash. U with a 4-0 shutout win Saturday morning. Pitcher Emily Vaillette ’10 gave an amazing performance, allowing only four hits and putting up four strikeouts. Third baseman Brittany Grimm ’12, the second batter of the game, hit a solo homer to center field, her second homerun of the week off Bears pitching. The next run came in the third off an RBI single by catcher Erin Ross ’10. The final scoring in the game took place in the fourth thanks to a bases-loaded single by shortstop Marianne Specker ’12.

Unfortunately for Brandeis they could not keep their momentum going into the second game of the day when they faced the Rochester University Yellowjackets. Despite getting four hits off Rochester pitcher Sara Hutchinson ’12, the Judges could not get a run on the board and fell 5-0. The Yellowjackets completed all their scoring in the first two innings, including a three run homer in the first.

The last game on Saturday was against Emory, a continuation of a game earlier in the week that was suspended after the top of the first inning. Vaillette kept the Eagles to just two runs and eight hits in four innings. Brandeis was not able to get more than a single run against the Eagles pitching, however, and lost the matchup 3-1. The one run of the game was in the fifth. Right fielder Carly Schmand ’11 hit a ground ball to the pitcher, scoring pinch-runner Casey Ducinski ’13 from third.

The Judges finished out their Florida series with a win against the Case Western Reserve University Spartans, securing their second place position with a 5-1 victory. In a turnaround from the last two game Brandeis cranked out 10 hits and drew seven walks. Grimm, classmate centerfielder Lauren Porcaro, and leftfielder Chelsea Korp ’10 each had two hits on the way to the win. Relief pitcher Keliann Kirby ’12 struck out two of the three batters she faced in the seventh to close out the game.

Brandeis returned from their successful road trip with a 7-3 record overall to play a double-header against the Wellesley College Blue on Wednesday. The 14th ranked Judges split the day, dropping the opening game 9-7 before coming back to take the second game in a 6-3 win in five innings.

Wellesley got on the board in the top of the first with a solo homerun to centerfield but Brandeis answered back in the bottom with an RBI double by DP Stacy Berg ’13 and a two-run single by Ross. The Blue had a big fourth inning, scoring eight runs on six hits and three errors. By the end of the frame they held a 9-4 lead over their hosts.

The Judges came back in the bottom of the seventh, tacking on three runs and four hits. With Korp on third and Grimm on second, Specker singled to the right side for an RBI and advanced Grimm to third. Berg came to the place and knocked one through to left field, landing her at first and bringing Specker and Grimm home to make it a 9-7 game. Brandeis was not able to get any closer, though, and left three runners on base.

In the second game the Judges got out to an early lead in the bottom of the first on one hit. Grimm and Berg walked off an illegal pitch on ball four. Berg stole second to put both runners in scoring position and thanks to a double by Ross Brandeis took a 2-0 lead.

The Blue fought back with two-run homer in the next inning to tie things up. Things would not stay that way for long, though. Brandeis scored the game winning runs in the bottom of the frame. Schmand got on base off a one-out error and advanced to second on a groundout. Second baseman Melisa Cager ’11 drew a walk before Grimm had an RBI single to bring Schmand home. Two wild pitches by the Blue gave the Judges a 4-2 lead.

Wellesley was able to get one more run on the night, but two more by the Judges secured their 6-3 win before the game was called in the fifth inning due to darkness.

Brandeis will play a double header on Tuesday at Suffolk before returning home for a double header against Lasell next Thursday.

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