Softball extends win streak to six

After a disappointing 6-4 loss to the Hamilton Continentals in the first game of a doubleheader on April 7, softball (16-10, 3-1 in the NESCAC) went on to win its last six games and sits in second place in the West Division, two games behind first-place Amherst.

The team benefited from another strong pitching performance from Katherine Baldwin ’03 in a 2-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader against the Middlebury Panthers (4-13) on Saturday. In game two, the Eph bats came alive to the tune of a 9-1 win.

“Baldwin did a nice job of shutting them down in the first game,” said Fran Vandermeer, head coach of softball. “I thought Kate [DeLuca ’03] did a nice job of keeping their hitters off stride, too.

“Our bats were a little quiet in that first game, we never quite got on track offensively,” Vandermeer continued. “Our bats came alive in a big way in that second game, though – it was good performances all around.”

With Baldwin in full command, the Ephs managed to get on the board in the third inning and tacked on a big insurance run in the fifth. Jessica Hartley ’02 pushed a one-out triple down the right field line and went on to score on a bunt single off the bat of Kristin Massimiano ’03.

With a 1-0 lead in the fifth, Courtney Hunter ’03 got the Ephs going with a bunt single and advanced to second on a single to centerfield by Gisele Pinck ’02. Hartley grounded into a fielder’s choice, which put runners on first and third with two down. Vandermeer put Hartley in motion with Massimiano at the plate, and when Middlebury catcher Michaela George attempted to gun her down at second, Hunter broke from third.

Hartley slid in underneath the tag at second and Cathy Schieffelin’s throw to the plate wasn’t nearly in time to catch Hunter, who scored the second run of the game for the Ephs.

Middlebury wasn’t prepared to go down quietly, and threatened in the top of the sixth. With a runner on second and two outs, Amanda Bohnsack tried to score on a Lauren Guza single to right field. Tracy Henderson ’03 scooped up the ball out in right and made a perfect throw to catcher Mary Baccash ’05 who blocked the plate and applied the tag on Guza to maintain the shutout.

Baldwin set them down one-two-three in the top of the seventh to ice the complete game shutout.

In the second game, the Ephwomen touched up Middlebury starting pitcher Megan McCarthy for seven runs between the first two innings, and went on to win 9-1 via the mercy rule in the fifth.

Hartley led off the bottom of the first with a single and stole second before McCarthy beaned Massimiano on the arm. Baldwin ripped an RBI single to right field, and advanced to second when Baccash grounded into a fielder’s choice.

With runners on second and third and one away, Kerri McMahon ’02 smacked a single down the third base line that plated two runs for the Ephs to make it a 3-0 game.

Williams picked up right where it left off in the second inning as Carly Massey ’04 smashed a triple to right-centerfield and Pinck walked on a full count. Hartley collected an RBI with a single to left field that scored Massey, and Baldwin picked up an RBI single of her own to give the Ephs a 5-0 lead.

Baccash was hit by a pitch on a 1-2 count to load the bases for McMahon, who hit a single to left field to give the Ephs a 6-0 advantage. McCarthy then walked in a run when Johanna Rodriguez ’04 took ball four on a full count to close out the scoring for the Ephs in the second inning.

McMahon collected her second RBI of the game with a single to left in the fourth inning, and Massey scored on an error in the fifth to put the Ephs’ ninth run on the board, which made it a day for the Panthers, who were beaten via the mercy rule.

DeLuca looked sharp on the mound and allowed only one run to score on Christina Freyer’s fourth inning home run to left-center.

Earlier in the week, pitcher Liz Gluck ’05 allowed five hits and no runs in a complete game shutout as the Ephs beat the Trinity Bantams (3-17) by a final score of 3-0. The Ephs did all their scoring in the third inning, in which Massimiano had the big hit, a two-run triple to dead center.

“Liz was fantastic today,” raved Vandermeer. “She kept the hitters off stride the whole game, she came through in the clutch situations – she just did a great job out there.”

”Courtney [Gordon ’05] and Mary called a great game,” said Gluck. “They were mixing up the pitches really well, and the defense was amazing – it was just a good day all around.”

Trinity pitcher Lauren McDowell kept the Ephs guessing through the first two innings, but with the bottom third of their lineup due up in the third inning the Ephwomen finally broke through.

Rodriguez smacked a leadoff single to center field, and Hunter followed with a base knock of her own. With runners on first and second, Massimiano stepped to the plate and crushed a first-pitch fastball to deep center field, which landed well beyond the reach of Alexandra Blumer, who broke in on the ball initially before charging back toward the wall. By the time Blumer hit the cutoff woman, Rodriguez and Hunter had scored and Massimiano was standing safely on third base.

Massimiano would score on the very next pitch when a heater from McDowell got away from Trinity catcher Sarah Hoyle.

Softball swept an afternoon-early evening doubleheader with the Springfield Pride (10-9) on Wednesday, winning the opener 4-3 in extra innings and taking the nightcap by a final count of 3-1. Baldwin stroked a single up the middle in the bottom of the eighth inning to drive in McMahon with the winning run for the Ephwomen in game one.

The Pride manufactured a run in their half of the eighth inning to take a 3-2 lead, but under pressure the Ephs came up to the plate hacking and scored their first run on a McMahon single. Pearson plunked Baccash after retiring Hartley, thereby moving McMahon into scoring position with Baldwin at the plate. On a 1-1 count, Baldwin smacked a single past Springfield shortstop Lauren Meagher, and McMahon came around to score the winning run of the ballgame.

The team has several days off before its next contest, a Thursday doubleheader at Smith College scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.