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Softball team starts season in California

The women’s softball team began their season with three games in California over the recent break. On Tuesday, Feb. 16 the Judges played a doubleheader against the No. 18 team in the NAIA Division I, Vanguard University. The Judges split the games, winning the first game against Vanguard 3-2 and then dropping the second game, losing 9-3.

Vanguard was the first to strike in the first game, scoring in the second inning. It wasn’t until the fourth inning that Brandeis’ Madison Sullivan ’16 reached first on an error and stole second on an overthrow. Classmate Danielle Novotny ’16 bunted back at the pitcher who threw home to catch Sullivan; however, Sullivan slid under the tag to even the score at 1-1. Both teams battled after that with multiple base runners; however, the teams remained tied for the remainder of regulation.

In the eighth inning, the Judges put Leah Shapiro ’17 on second. Rookie Keri Lehtonen ’19 bunted to move Shapiro to third while Lehtonen reached first. Lehtonen then stole second to put two players in scoring position. Sullivan then launched a ball to left field on a sacrifice fly, which allowed Shapiro to score giving the Judges a 2-1 lead. However, the lead was short lived, as Vanguard earned the run back in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Novotny started the ninth inning on second base. The Vanguard pitcher started the inning with a strikeout against Madison Gagnon ’16, but the catcher dropped the ball and overthrew it to first base, allowing Novotny to score and Gagnon to reach second. The Judges were able to hold the 3-2 lead, as pitcher Melissa Soleimani ’17 retired three Vanguard batters in a row. Soleimani threw her first collegiate game, with nine hits in nine innings, two strikeouts, one walk and one earned run.

The Judges weren’t as successful in the second game, losing 9-3 to Vanguard. The Judges struck early, with two runs in the top of the first inning. However, Vanguard answered back in the third inning with three runs and continued to add to their score with five runs on three hits and three errors. Vanguard opened the bottom of the fifth with a home run for their last run of the game. The Judges tried to come back in the sixth, loading the bases with two outs.

The Judges played their last game on the road against Cal Lutheran University on Wednesday, Feb. 17, losing 4-1. The game was cut to six innings due to rain.

The Judges don’t play again until March 5, when they travel to Altamonte Springs, Florida for the UAA conference tournament March 8 through 13. The Judges will take on Penn State-Brandywine and Austin College in Orlando, FL before taking on the UAA tournament, which will consist of some of the most important games of the team’s season. The Judges head down to Florida with a record of 1-2 so far this season.

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