April 16, 2012

Sophomore Elizabeth Morris (Kenilworth, Ill.) pitched a one-hit shutout for Middlebury, striking out nine in a 5-0 win over Wesleyan in the opener of a three-game series.

The Panthers struck in the first inning, scoring three runs on only two singles. With runners on first and second, junior Jessa Hoffman (Golden, Colo.) loaded the bases with a crisp single to left. After an infield fly put one out on the board, a wild pitch by Dana Levy (1-3) advanced all three runners, including leadoff hitter, sophomore Alex Scibetta (Ridgewood, N.J.) from third. An infield put-out scored another run before a second wild pitch plated Hoffman for the third run of the inning.

That was all that Morris (3-1) needed as she allowed three runners to reach base, one on a hit-by-pitch to start the game, a single by Wesleyan’s Chrissy Bello in the fourth and a fielding error placed another Cardinal on first in the fifth inning.

The Panthers scored two more in the fourth, capped by a leadoff triple by junior Emma Katz (Northridge, Calif.). Sophomore Kimber Sable (Winnetka, Ill.) knocked Katz home before Middlebury loaded the bases for junior Jessica Poracky (Ramsey, N.J.). Poracky drew a walk, forcing in the fifth run of the game.

The Panthers still with no outs and the bases loaded had a great opportunity to blow the game wide open. But a nice put-out at home from shortstop Jill Gately followed by back-to-back strikeouts from reliever Caitlyn Grudzinski ended the threat.

Katz’s triple was the lone extra-base hit on the day as five other Panthers collected singles. Morris' seven scoreless innings push her ERA down to 0.59 with over 35 innings of work.

Middlebury took a pair of NESCAC West games from Wesleyan, winning the first 12-1 in five innings and a hard-fought 3-2 walk-off victory in the nightcap. With a win on Friday, the Panthers completed their second straight NESCAC West series sweep and hold a 6-0 conference mark and a 16-7 overall record. Correspondingly, Wesleyan falls to 8-18 and 3-6 in conference play as the Cardinals have been swept in two straight series after a 3-0 sweep to open NESCAC West play.

In game one, Middlebury erupted for all 12 runs in the third inning, sending 16 batters to the plate. The first three Panthers to bat reached on singles, the next three reached on walks, for a 2-0 lead. Trailing 4-0 with one out, Wesleyan pitcher Laura Getchell was replaced by Caitlyn Grudzinski, after walking another runner. Grudzinski fared no better during the onslaught, letting a trio of inherited runners score and allowing five earned runs without mustering an out.

Poracky had the lone extra-base hit in the inning, as she roped a bases-loaded double to left for a 10-0 lead. Poracky scored on a single from sophomore Emily Kraytenberg (Londonderry, N.H.), who later worked her way around to score on a walk and two wild pitches from Getchell who re-entered earlier in the inning for a 12-0 lead.

Wesleyan got on the board, scoring their only run in the fourth off Panther sophomore starter Alexa Lesenskyj (Robbinsville, N.J.). Chrissy Bello followed a Jill Gately single with a double, scoring Gately all the way from first.

Middlebury managed only seven hits in the 12-1 win, but Poracky went 2-2, with a double, three RBI and two runs scored, as Sable also added a pair of singles. Lesenskyj (7-3) pitched four innings, allowing one earned, striking out two, as first-year player Kelsey Martel (Concord, N.H.) pitched a scoreless fifth.

In game two, Wesleyan took a 2-0 lead in the third on a two-out rally. After a walk to Lindland, Allee Beatty laced a single to center, pushing Lindland to third. After Beatty stole second, Tori Redding hit a single to center, plating both runners.

Middlebury got one run back in the bottom of the frame when sophomore Emily Smith (Winchester, Mass.), with runners on first and second and one out, doubled home a run.

In the sixth the Panthers scratched a run across to tie the game at 2-2. With runners on second and third with one out, Wesleyan brought the infield in, as Kraytenberg hit a soft grounder to second that was thrown home for a fielder’s choice. The play at the plate was close, but as the dust cleared, the runner beat the throw, tying the game at 2-2.

In the bottom of the seventh, senior Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.) reached on a single, and was replaced by Martel at first. A sacrifice bunt by Katz pushed Martel to second and later advanced to third on an infield put-out. After a walk and a hit batter by Wesleyan hurler Haylle Reidy loaded the bases, Poracky stepped to the plate.

Heading into the twin bill, Poracky averaged .516 from the dish with a .551 on-base percentage. Reidy got an early called strike, but Poracky, after fouling off a few pitches battled until the count was full. With base-loaded and two outs and a 3-2 count, Poracky delivered with a sharp single up the middle scoring Martel from third for the 3-2 win.

Scibetta led Middlebury with two singles, while six other Panthers had one-baggers. Morris (4-1) went the distance allowing two earned runs over seven innings, striking out six and walking one.

• Softball team record: 16-7

• Up next: 4/18 @ Rensselaer, 4/20 @ Williams (1) – 5:00, 4/21 @ Williams – 12:00