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Softball finishes strong week after earning first ever national ranking

By Jon Ostrowsky

Section: Sports

March 26, 2010

Brandeis’ catcher Erin Ross ‘10 (No. 13, pictured) hits safely into a fielder’s choice, during the first inning. After failing to make an out on the play, Lasell gave up an unearned run due to a wild pitch.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

The softball team earned a national ranking for the first time in Brandeis history last week. This week, they finished strong, winning the first game of a double header against Lasell College while finishing the second game in a 2-2 tie since ti was called after six innings due to darkness.

Commenting on the Judges 9-6 victory in the first game against Lasell, four-year Head Coach Jessica Johnson said in an interview with the Hoot that she was satisfied the squad was able to post nine runs, but admitted they struggled on defense.

“We had some mental mistakes on the bases, and defensively we’re doing okay–we’re not doing extraordinary, unfortunately,” she said.

Johnson explained that the team regularly plays consecutive games against the same school, so it is very used to and not bothered by the double-header format.

Lasell firstbaseman Ashley Laramie put the Judges in a tough spot during the first inning of the second game, hitting a two-run homer off of starting pitcher Caroline Miller ’12.

“I think personally my performance was lacking. [I have] a lot of potential to do better,” Miller said.

She added that the team performed well on defense but struggled to get their offense going.

“Today we kind of played down to the other team’s level,” Brittany Grimm ’12 said, commenting on the team’s performance in both games. I think being a ranked team now, we’re getting in our heads a little bit, and every team is really out to win against us.”

But Grimm added that she hopes the team’s performance today will serve as a “wake-up call” and motivate them to raise their level of play. Grimm drove in Specker with a double to right field in the third inning and later scored off of an error in centerfield, contributing the Judges only two runs in the game.

Lasell Head Coach Tom DeFilippo, said that compared to other schools his team faces Brandeis has a “solid, solid club” with “good pitching.”

Emily Vaillette ‘10 (No. 8, pitcured), Brandeis’ starting pitcher, hurls one home during Brandeis’ 9-6 win against Lasell, on Friday.
PHOTO BY Max Shay/The Hoot

Posting their best finish since 1999, the Judges came in second place at the UAA tournament, held the week of March 9, and finished league play with a 5-3 record.

The softball team finished third in the UAA and earned a 14th place national ranking, according to a National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division III poll last week.

Currently they are ranked 20th in the nation, according to the Brandeis Athletics Web site. The Judges also placed Emily Vaillette ’10, Melisa Cagar ’11, and Grimm on the all UAA tournament team, according to a press release from the Brandeis Athletics Web site.

For Cagar, who plays second base and hit .333 in UAA action, it was her third year in a row on the all UAA team. Cagar was joined by fellow infielder Grim, who plays third base and led the team with a .400 batting average in UAA play to earn her first selection to the all league team.

“I’m just happy that I contributed to my team as much as I did,” Grimm said.

Vaillente posted a 3-2 record from the mound, and the league’s second best earned-run-average at 0.66, according to the Athletics Web site.

Before the start of the second game, Johnson said that the end of the season will be especially challenging. “[We’re] definitely hoping to peak at the right time. Our schedules are going to get progressively harder and harder,” Johnson said.

The Judges play two games against Salem State College on Saturday. The first game begins at 1 p.m.

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