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Softball endures harsh week to even record at .500

By Brian Tabakin

Section: Sports

March 30, 2012

This past week the Brandeis University softball team went through a gauntlet of games playing four double-headers. They went 5-3 in this stretch once again to reach .500 with a record of 8-8 (3-5 UAA).

In the first double-header, the team split a pair of games with Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

In the opening game, the Judges scored twice in the first frame and pitcher Caroline Miller ’12 pitched a strong game to make the runs hold up. Right fielder Amanda Genovese ’15 opened up the game with a single to center field while shortstop Brittany Grimm ’12 immediately brought her home with an RBI triple to deep right field. First baseman Marianne Specker ’12 then plated Grimm with an RBI groundout that ended up being the winning run.

Miller’s stellar performance did not require the Judges to garner any more runs. Miller only allowed five hits, one earned run and three batters to reach base the entire day. Furthermore, she struck out 10 batters, matching a career high, and only walked two. This was Miller’s third complete game of the season and the 14th of her career.

In the second part of the double-header, the bats came alive for both teams. WPI immediately jumped on Nikki Cote ’15 in the first inning as they tagged her for eight runs. It initially looked like Cote would have an easy one, two, three inning; however, after retiring the first two batters, the next nine safely reached base on a combination of five singles, three walks and a hit batter.

After the disastrous opening frame, Brandeis was forced to play catch-up for the rest of the game. In the bottom of the first frame, the Judges were able to get three runs back to cut the WPI lead to 8-3. Then, after a scoreless top of the second, the Judges plated another run in the bottom of the second to cut the deficit to four.

WPI tried to ice the game, however, scoring two runs in the third and two runs in the fifth to extend their lead to eight runs at 12-4.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Judges once again trimmed the lead, scoring two runs to cut the deficit to six.

After WPI tacked on another run in the top of the seventh, the Judges made their charge in the bottom of the frame. In the frame, 10 different batters came to the plate. The Judges loaded the bases on one-out singles from Miller and second baseman Leah McWilliams ’14 and a walk to Genovese. Grimm drove home the first run of the inning with a sacrifice fly to center that also advanced the other two runners. Specker immediately followed with an RBI single off of the right field fence that drove in another two runs. Center fielder Lauren Porcaro ’12 then launched an RBI double down the left field line to cut the deficit to two. Brandeis would tack on one more run in the inning off of an unforced error from WPI.

Unfortunately, the Judges’ comeback came short, as they were unable to score any more runs and lost 13-12.

The following day, the Judges returned to action with a double-header against Salem State.

In the first game of the twin cap, Miller again pitched a complete game as the Judges won 11-6 in extra innings.

Salem State scored first, plating a run in the bottom of the first, but Brandeis answered immediately with a run in the top of the second.

After Salem State took the lead again in the bottom of the second, Brandeis took their first lead of the game in the top of the third as the Judges took advantage of a Salem error and single from Genovese to plate two runs; however, Salem would once again tie the game in the bottom of the frame.

Salem once again took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning and then Brandeis tied the game again in the top of the sixth inning with an RBI triple from Miller.

Brandeis finally got some separation from Salem in the 11th inning in which they tagged starter Katelynn Fanning for five runs and an 11-6 lead.

After a run scored from a single and a wild pitch, Nicole Wilson replaced Fanning, but Wilson did not fare much better. With the bases loaded, Wilson walked in another run and then gave up a two-run single to Grimm. Specker tacked on one more run in the inning.

For the game, Miller allowed six runs—four earned—and seven hits, and had three strikeouts.

In the nightcap, Salem earned a 5-4 win with a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh.

The Judges scored a run in the top of the first to take the early lead. After Grimm doubled to lead off the frame, third baseman Anya Kamber ’15 plated Grimm with an RBI single; however, Salem immediately responded with two runs in the bottom of the frame.

Salem tacked on another run in the bottom of the third to push their lead to two runs.

In the top of the fourth, the Judges cut the lead to one after left fielder Megan DeNubila ’13 hit a sacrifice fly to drive home Porcaro from third. Unfortunately, Salem again stretched their lead to two runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Brandeis answered the call in the top of the sixth, scoring two runs to tie the game at 4-4. After three consecutive singles loaded the bases, Specker drove home two runs with a single. In the bottom of the seventh, however, Michelle Grifoni launched a single up through the gap to drive home the winning run.

A few days later, the Judges once again played a double-header.

In the first game of the double-header, the Judges faced Emerson College. Against Emerson, the Judges quickly found themselves in an early deficit as they tagged Miller for five runs in the first two innings.

Brandeis attempted to make a comeback; however, they ultimately fell short. The Judges plated a run in the bottom of the second, but Emerson quickly got the run back in the top of the fourth.

Down 6-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Emerson made an error that gave the Judges some hope. Genovese blooped a single into left field with a runner on third base and both Emerson’s left fielder and centerfielder misplayed the ball, turning a routine single into an inside-the-park homerun. The Judges added another run in the bottom of the sixth, but they got no closer, dropping the contest 6-4.

In the second game of the double-header, the Judges found themselves in an offensive tug-of-war with Lesley University.

Lesley and Brandeis traded runs during the first seven frames of the game and were forced to go to extra innings to settle the contest.

In the first frame of the extra innings, pitcher Casey Ducinski ’13 could not overcome the handicap of a Lesley base runner on second. Although she pitched efficiently and effectively during the inning, the runner at second crossed the plate to put Lesley up 9-8 entering the bottom of the eighth.

The Judges began the bottom of the frame with Genovese at second and quickly found themselves in position to tie the game when Specker singled up the middle to put Genovese 60 feet from home. Kamber immediately followed Specker with an RBI groundout to tie the game at 9-9 and move Specker over to second. Porcaro then singled to put runners on the corners and hitter Ali Theodore ’12 hit an infield single to load the bases. During the next bat, Lesley hit Melissa Nolan ’14 to force in the game’s winning run.

In the final double-header of the week, the Judges swept Wellesley with 6-2 and 6-1 victories.

During the twin cap, Miller and Ducinski combined to allow hits in just four innings out of a possible of 14 innings.

In the first game, Miller pitched her sixth complete game of the season, allowing just four hits and one earned run. Miller also struck out six and walked just one. Miller didn’t allow a Wellesley hit until the fifth inning, in which three consecutive singles produced Wellesley’s only run of the game.

In the second game, Ducinski allowed two runs on three hits. She struck out six batters—a season-high—while only walking one. During the first six innings of play, Ducinski only allowed one hit; however, Wellesley tagged her for two runs in the top of the seventh.

Behind the strong pitching of Miller and Ducinski, Brandeis easily dispatched Wellesley to even their record at 8-8 on the season.

The Judges will look to build on this week’s strong play when they face Lasell this upcoming Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.

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