April 26, 2010

The Middlebury College softball team took game two of a double-header 7-6 from visiting Castleton (15-18) on Saturday, earning a split of the two-game series after dropping the opener 1-0. Middlebury (17-10) travels to Plymouth State on Wednesday before hosting Wesleyan in a key three-game showdown with NESCAC playoff implications on Friday and Saturday.

            In game one, Castleton's Megan Blongy scored the only run in the game in the fifth inning, knocked in from second on an RBI single from Sarah Flore. Going into the frame, the Spartans were 1/6 as a team with runners in scoring position. For the game, Middlebury went 0/10 with RISP.

            Hilary Bemis pitched the complete game shut-out, evening her record at 8-8, while junior Ali McAnaney (Northbrook, Ill.) (7-4) took the hard-luck loss for Middlebury, going the distance with one earned run, striking out 10 Spartans.

            In game two, the Panthers wasted little time, scoring four in the bottom of the first. A lead-off triple by first-year player Jessa Hoffman (Golden, Colo.) started the rally, as she scored trying to be doubled-up after a pop-out bunt to third base. With two on, rookie Jessica Poracky (Ramsey, N.J.) doubled to center for two RBI, before sophomore Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.) chased her home with a triple and a 4-0 lead.  

            Castleton battled right back, scoring three in the next inning. A bases-loaded walk to Rachael Dube followed with Chipman scoring on a fielding error. Flore capped the scoring with an RBI single, cutting the Panther lead to 4-3.

            Middlebury added another run in the bottom of the second for a 5-3 advantage, as Castleton tied it in the third. A two-out triple by Kealy Chipman plated Bemis, who walked to start the inning. A wild pitch by first-time starter Emma Katz (Northridge, Calif.) allowed Chipman to score from third, tying the game at five apiece.

            Emily Sweeney relieved Bemis to start the third, holding the Panther bats quiet until the bottom of the fifth. With a two-out single by Katz, Poracky slammed another double, pushing Katz to third. Katz was waived in from third during the play as the leftfielder mishandled the ball.

            Trailing 6-5, Castleton added the equalizer in the sixth with timely two-out hitting. After drawing a walk, Blongy stole second and continued to third after the errant throw to second. A clean, two-out single to left by Abby Hewes scored Blongy, tying the game at six all. In the bottom of the frame, two-out hitting favored the Panthers, as a looping double that kicked up the chalk on the left field line by junior Megan Margel (Ridgewood, N.J.) scored Hoffman from second base for the 7-6 lead.

            Margel went 3/4 with a double, triple and two RBI, while Poracky added two doubles and a pair of RBI for Middlebury in game two. Katz went the distance in her first career start, allowing four earned runs over seven innings, notching her first win as a Panther.

            Middlebury took one of two non-league games against Union on Wednesday, winning game one 1-0, while dropping the night cap 10-6.

            In the top of the first of game one, with the bases loaded and two outs, Hoffman robbed Erika Hillenbrand of a sure two-run single on a diving stop up the middle. Hoffman made a quick toss to second for the force out, ending the inning.

            In the bottom of the second, Poracky led off with a crisp single to left field. She advanced to second on a wild pitch before junior Emily Burbridge (E. Greenwich, R.I.) plated her with an RBI double down the left field line for a 1-0 lead.

            Union had runners on third base in both the third and fifth innings with two outs, but McAnaney got out of trouble both times. Middlebury failed to add any insurance runs, including stranding Poracky after a one-out double in the sixth. McAnaney sent the Dutchwomen down in order in the seventh for the complete game shut-out win. Union's Tiffany Ippoliti took the loss, allowing the one earned run in the second inning, as she pitched 5.1 innings, relieved by Ginni Sack in the sixth. Teammate Lauren Hoffman went 2/4 with a stolen base to lead Union from the plate. Middlebury collected four hits in game one, as Poracky was 2/4 with a double and a run scored.

            In game two, the teams combined to score sixteen runs on 19 hits. Union broke open a scoreless game in the second with a five-run barrage, chasing Middlebury rookie Sarah Boylan (Danvers, Mass.) from the circle. Boylan, making her pitching debut for Middlebury, sent the Dutchwomen down in order in the first inning before giving up five earned runs in the second. Leading 1-0 with one out, Union connected with back-to-back doubles by Allie Sirrine and Becky Gronczniak to plate three more runs. Gronczniak ended up scoring on a wild pitch by Katz for the 5-0 cushion.

            Leading 6-1 in the top of the fourth, Union added three more runs on a two-out rally, including a two RBI single by Ashley Kovack for a 9-1 lead. The Panthers responded in the bottom of the frame, scoring four runs. With runners on second and third, Katz lined a single up the middle for two RBI. Katz worked her way to third before Burbridge plated her with an RBI bunt single. With two outs and Burbridge on third, Hoffman knocked her in with an RBI single, cutting the Union lead to 9-5.

            Trailing 10-5 in the bottom of the seventh, Hoffman started the final at bats for Middlebury with a single up the middle. With two away and Hoffman on second, Poracky plated her with an RBI single into center. With two on, Ippoliti, who relieved Sack in the fifth, enticed Katz into a fielder's choice, ending the game.

            Nina Cervini went 3/4 with a double, while Alexandra King went 2/3 to lead Union. Sack improved to 9-4, while Ippoliti earned her first save. Hoffman paced the Panthers with a 3/4 day with an RBI and a stolen base as Katz added a pair of RBI. Boylan started the game for Middlebury, was relieved after 1.1 innings, reentered the circle from third base in the fifth, gave up six runs, five earned over 4.1 innings and took her first career loss. Emma Katz, also facing her first batters as a Panther hurler, allowed four earned runs over 2.2 innings of work.

• Softball record: 17-10

• Up next: 4/28 @ Plymouth, 4/30 vs. Wesleyan - 5:00, 5/1 vs. Wesleyan - 12:00