April 30, 2012

Sophomore Kimber Sable (Winnetka, Ill.) went 2-3 and drove in three runs to lead Middlebury past Amherst 5-3 Friday afternoon in a NESCAC West softball series opener.  The Panthers broke a 2-2 tie with three runs in the top of the sixth and fended off a seventh-inning rally from Amherst. Junior Sarah Boylan (Danvers, Mass.) had two hits and an RBI, while sophomore Emily Kraytenberg (Londonderry, N.H.) was 3-4 and scored a pair of runs.

Kelsey Ayers, Carolyn Miller and Donna Leet each went 2-4 for Amherst, but the Lord Jeffs were held to three runs by sophomore Elizabeth Morris (Kenilworth, Ill.). Morris allowed 10 hits in her complete-game effort, striking out four and walking none.

Theresa Kelley suffered her first loss of the season (17-1) despite striking out nine batters without surrendering a walk, as she gave up five earned runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. Arielle Doering recorded the final four outs for the Jeffs without allowing a hit.

Middlebury got things going in the top of the second inning when Sable delivered a two-RBI single to center field, scoring Kraytenberg and Boylan for a 2-0 lead. The Jeffs tied the game in the fourth when Ayers brought home Miller on a two-out infield single, with Kelley also scoring on the play by taking advantage of a dropped throw to first base.

Boylan came up with the go-ahead hit when she doubled off the left field fence to score Kraytenberg with one out. Sable followed with a two-out triple that held up as the game-winning hit, and she would come around to score on a wild pitch that brought the score to 5-2.

Amherst threatened in the seventh when Kaitlin Silkowitz led off with a bunt single and came around to score on a double to right field by Miller, but Morris induced a pair of pop-ups that ended the game.

The top four hitters in Middlebury’s lineup were a combined 1-15, but the rest of the Panthers’ order was 7-15 with two doubles and a triple. The Jeffs had their win streak snapped at nine games and have now dropped four in a row to Middlebury. 

Amherst earned the right to host the NESCAC Softball Championship for the first time in program history by sweeping a doubleheader from Middlebury on Saturday afternoon. The Lord Jeffs earned a 4-0 win in the opener thanks to a timely two-run homer from Idalia Friedson and a stellar pitching performance by Arielle Doering. The second game would decide which team hosted next weekend’s conference tournament, and it was Amherst that scored in five of six innings en route to an 8-1 victory.

Middlebury (19-14, 9-3 NESCAC West) will begin its NESCAC title defense by taking on Tufts University, the top seed out of the East Division. The Panthers defeated the Jumbos twice during last year’s championship run.

Doering pitched a combined eight shutout innings for Amherst, while Kelsey Ayers had two hits in each game and finished 4-7 with a pair of runs scored. Junior Emma Katz (Northridge, Calif.) had a pair of 1-3 performances as the only Middlebury player with multiple hits on the day.

Saturday’s first game saw a pitchers' duel between Doering and sophomore Alexa Lesenskyj (Robbinsville, N.J.) get broken up by Friedson’s two-run shot over the fence in left field, giving Amherst a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth. Theresa Kelley led the Jeffs down the stretch by retiring all five batters she faced in relief of Doering, also ripping a two-run single to center in the sixth. 

Doering struck out two, walked three and allowed only four hits in 5.1 innings, with Kelley recording a pair of strikeouts in a perfect relief appearance. Lesenskyj struck out six and gave up only eight hits in the complete-game effort, but she would drop to 7-7 with the loss.

Amherst was in control throughout the second game, beginning with Kaitlin Silkowitz singling, stealing second and scoring on a Reilly Horan base-hit up the middle that gave the hosts a 1-0 lead in the first. The Jeffs added a run in the third and made it 3-0 in the fourth, but the Panthers got one back in the fifth when Boylan doubled and eventually scored on a throwing error.

The Jeffs broke the game open with three runs in the bottom of the fifth, bringing home a pair on a fielding error before Carolyn Miller made it a 6-1 game with a sacrifice fly to center. Amherst added its final two runs in the sixth, as an RBI-groundout by Silkowitz was followed by a run-scoring single to center by Donna Leet.

Kelley struck out six and allowed only four hits in the first 4.1 innings, with Doering surrendering only one hit in relief. Morris was responsible for the first six Amherst runs after giving up six hits and striking out three in four innings, while Lesenskyj tossed the final two frames for Middlebury. 

Earlier in the week, Middlebury dropped a pair of non-league games at Plymouth State on Wednesday, falling 11-7 and 9-1  at PSU’s D&M Park. Sophomores Jackie Digman and Bekah Jackson and junior Calli DeGrace went deep to backbone the Panthers in the opening game, while sophomore Taylor Mancini belted a grand slam to lead the way in the nightcap.  PSU moved over the .500 mark to 19-17 overall, while Middlebury dropped to 18-12.

With two hits in the first game, Jackson hit a three-run home run to right field in the fourth inning.  Sophomore Sam Hebert drove in a run in each game with a grounder to the right side, knocking in her 34th and record 35th runs of the season.

Junior Jessa Hoffman (Golden, Colo.) and junior Jessica Poracky (Ramsey, N.J.) blasted back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning of the first game for Middlebury, each finishing the game with three RBI.  The visitors managed just three hits in the nightcap, two by Katz. The game was also a homecoming for Middlebury catcher Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.), who played at Plymouth Regional High School.

• Softball team record: 19-14

• Up next: 5/1 @ Skidmore, 5/4 vs. Tufts @ Amherst – 5:00 (NESCAC Tournament), 5/5-6 - TBA