April 20, 2009

The Middlebury College softball team played a pair of games at Union before returning home to host Amherst in a NESCAC West league series. At Union, Ginni Sack and Tiffany Ippoliti pitched back-to-back shutouts as the Union softball team swept Middlebury, 6-0 and 8-0 at Alexander Field Wednesday afternoon.

Sack remained perfect with her seventh win in as many decisions in game one. She allowed four singles and walked one while striking out seven. Ippoliti is now 4-1 on the season after her seven-hitter, in which she gave up seven hits and struck out five while walking two Panthers.

In the opener, baseman Alicia Jones had three of Union's eight hits, while Megan Kaknis had two RBIs coming on her third homer of the season. Her blast highlighted a four run fifth for the Dutchwomen that opened things up for Sack. Union's other two runs came in the third on a sacrifice fly by Michelle Rogers and a two-out RBI single by Nina Cervini. Middlebury sophomore Geena Constantin (Pelham, N.H.) walked three and allowed four hits and two earned runs in four innings.

Game two featured a similar close contest in the early going, as Union led 1-0 entering the bottom of the fourth against first-year pitcher Ashley Higgins (Ridgefield, Conn.). Kaknis' RBI double with two out in the opening frame provided the only run of the game until the Dutchwomen sent 11 batters to the plate in the fifth. The Dutchwomen had seven of their 12 hits in that inning.

Kaknis, Ashley Kovack , Kaitlin Graham and Rogers each had two hits and Kaknis had two RBIs in the victory. Higgins gave up six earned runs in 4 1/3 while sophomore Megan Margel (Ridgewood, N.J.) had two of the visitors' seven hits. The game ended when two runners scored on an infield throwing error with one out in the bottom of the fifth, providing the eight run advantage.

Amherst pounded out 18 hits en route to a 16-1, five inning win over Middlebury in the first game of a pivotal three-game NESCAC West series on Friday.

Amherst built a 6-0 lead before Middlebury got on the board in the third inning. Senior Amelia Magistrali (Torrington, Conn.) knocked a shot down the left field line, scoring sophomore Nellie Wood (Hampden, Maine) from second base for an RBI single. That was all the scoring Middlebury could muster off Jeff hurler Alex Chang-Graham who entered the game with a sparkling 12-1 record and a 1.29 ERA.

Amherst sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, adding four more runs on three hits for a 10-1 lead. Bases-loaded RBI singles by Annemaire Iker and Chang-Graham highlighted the scoring. A pair of bases-loaded walks issued by sophomore Ali McAnaney (Northbrook, Ill.) forced in the other two runs in the inning.

In the fifth, Higgins relieved McAnaney, but the Jeffs bats stayed hot, scoring six more runs as 11 batters took aim at Higgins in the inning. Holly Trace scorched a double down the left field line for two RBI as six other Jeffs added singles in the inning for a 16-1 lead. Chang-Graham shut down the Panthers in the bottom of the fifth, sealing the win.

Magistrali went 1-3 on the day with an RBI, while sophomore Emily Burbridge (E. Greenwich, R.I.) added a double for Middlebury. Amherst was led by Carly Dudzik's three hit, two RBI performance as five other Jeffs had multiple hits. Trace had a game-high three RBI for Amherst.

Chang-Graham improved to 13-1 from the circle for Amherst, striking out five and allowing one unearned run. McAnaney (6-5) took the loss, allowing 10 runs, seven earned, over four innings of work, while Higgins pitched the final inning, allowing six earned runs, while striking out two Jeffs.

Middlebury won the opening game against Amherst 12-8 and fell in the night cap 3-1 on Saturday. The twin bill completed NESCAC West action for the Panthers (13-13, 5-7) as they continue their season with six non-league games next week. With the split, the Jeffs are now 17-6 overall and 5-3 in conference play.

In game one, Amherst broke a scoreless tie in the fourth when Stephanie Clegg belted a two-run homer to left centerfield, immediately followed by a solo blast by Annemarie Iker for a 3-0 lead. The Jeffs added three more in the fifth when Maddie Tamagni slapped a double to left for a pair of RBI. Carly Dudzik plated Tamagni with a single up the middle for a 6-0 lead. The Panthers exploded for six in the bottom of the fifth on four hits and were aided by four Amherst errors in the frame. Burbridge's RBI double highlighted the comeback.

With the score tied at six all, the Panthers knocked in another six runs in the sixth inning for a 12-6 lead. With no outs, a bases-loaded RBI single by Margel started the scoring, as Burbridge's base-on-balls forced in another run. Constantin cleared the bases with a three RBI triple to right field. Wood capped the rally with an RBI groundout that knocked in Constantin.

Amherst cut the lead to 12-8 in the seventh on a two-run home run by Dudzik. With two outs, the Jeffs put two more runners on base, but Holly Trace's ground out ended the game.

The 12 runs scored was a season-high for Middlebury. Eight Panthers hit safely in the game, highlighted by Burbridge's RBI double and Constantin's three RBI triple. Home runs by Dudzik, Clegg and Iker led the Jeffs' six extra-base hits, as Tamagni went 3-3 on the day with a pair of doubles and two RBI.

Constantin (5-4) went the distance for the win, allowing eight earned runs, while striking out nine Jeffs. Amherst ace Alex Chang-Graham suffered her second loss on the year (13-2), allowing 12 runs, seven earned, as the Jeff defense committed nine errors.

Game two followed a similar early inning script to game one, as Amherst one again broke a scoreless tie in the fourth. With two outs, and runners on second and third, Jillian Masi singled up the middle for a 1-0 lead.

The lead held up until the bottom of the sixth as the Panthers tied it at one. Rookie Kira Gordon (Scarborough, Maine) beat out an infield single to start the inning. Magistrali's sacrifice bunt pushed Gordon to second. Sophomore Leslie Crawford (Mount Vernon, Wash.) laced a double down the left field line, scoring Gordon from second, tying the game.

Amherst responded in the seventh with a lead-off double by Tamagni and a RBI triple by Dudzik to retake the lead 2-1. Dudzik later scored on a wild pitch by McAnaney for a 3-1 lead. In the bottom of the seventh, junior Kristin Maletsky (Kinnelon, N.J.) got on base with a one-out walk, but the next two Panthers were retired, ending the comeback bid.

Tamagni led the Jeffs from the plate with a pair of doubles as Dudzik added a pair of hits, including an RBI triple. Crawford's RBI double was tops for Middlebury as three other Panthers added singles.

Tamagni (2-2) had an impressive day for Amherst, scattering four hits over seven innings of work for the win. Constantin started the game for Middlebury, pitching two scoreless innings before stepping aside for McAnaney in the third. McAnaney (6-6) pitched the remaining five innings, allowing three earned runs for the loss.
. Softball record: 13-13
. Up next: 4/22 vs. RPI (2) - 3:30, 4/23 vs. Plymouth (2) - 3:30, 4/24 @ Lyndon (2) - 3:30