April 11, 2011

The Middlebury College softball team had a big week, splitting with Rensselaer before sweeping a three-game NESCAC West series with Williams.

Middlebury rallied in the night-cap 3-2 in eight innings topping visiting Rensselaer (RPI), who took a 5-4 win in the opener, for a split of the twin-bill on Wednesday. While it was the home-opener for the Panthers (10-4), it was the first true road test for the Engineers (11-5) who played a pair of home games and a dozen neutral site contests before the match-up.

In game one, RPI broke open a scoreless game in the top of the third, plating three runs. A one-out RBI single by Gillian McCarthy scored Alysa Rochminski from third. Later, with two outs and runners on second and third, Sara Heller popped a shot sky-high to shallow left center that was misplayed by Middlebury, scoring the other two runs.

The Panthers had runners in scoring position in four of the first five innings, without scoring. In the bottom of the sixth, the Panthers got on the board when rookie pinch runner Alex Scibetta (Ridgewood, N.J.) scored from third on a wild pitch, cutting the deficit to 3-1. RPI earned some breathing room in the top of the seventh with an RBI double by McCarthy. McCarthy would later score from third on a SAC fly by Dani Grage, building a 5-1 lead.

            Middlebury battled back in the final frame, building a two-out bases-loaded scenario for senior Emily Burbridge (E. Greenwich, R.I.), who knocked in a run on a fielding error. Sophomore Emma Katz (Northridge, Calif.) followed with a single up the middle, plating two runners, cutting the lead to 5-4. The Panthers could not get the tying run across as the game ended on an infield ground out.

Jen Shields paced RPI with a 3/3 day at the plate, scoring two runs, while McCarthy was 2/4 with a double and two RBI. Katz led the Panthers with a 3-4 outing and two RBI.

            Felicia Bua (3-3) got the nod, pitching four clean innings, while Charlene Osmanski tossed the final three frames, allowing four runs, one earned. First-year pitcher Alexa Lesenskyj (Robbinsville, N.J.) (2-2) went five innings for Middlebury, allowing three runs, one earned, as classmate Elizabeth Morris (Kenilworth, Ill.) capped the game with two innings of relief work, giving up two earned runs.

            In game two, it took extra innings to decide the outcome. A one-all game after seven traditional innings forced a tie-breaker situation. With Sam Paulding placed on second to start the eighth inning, RPI’s Tori Hunt took a one-out pitch to centerfield for a single. A strong throw home by senior Nellie Wood (Hampden, Maine) got Paulding in a rundown, eventually getting Paulding out 8-2-5-3, but Hunt worked her way to third during the play. Hunt would score when McCarthy reached on a fielding error for a 2-1 lead.

            Again the Panthers fought back in the last half, this time capping the comeback with the winning run. With Wood placed on second to start the frame, starting RPI ace Jen Bach quickly loaded the bases. Senior Megan Margel (Ridgewood, N.J.) followed with a single to second, scoring Wood for a 2-2 game. Sophomore Jessica Poracky (Ramsey, N.J.) followed with the game-winner pushing a fly ball to center, plating sophomore Jessa Hoffman (Golden, Colo.) from third for the 3-2 win.

            Senior Leslie Crawford (Mount Vernon, Wash.) went 2/4 for Middlebury, while Hoffman chipped in with a double and one RBI. Margel, Poracky and rookie Emily Kraytenberg (Londonderry, N.H.) each chipped in with RBIs. Senior Geena Constantin (Pelham, N.H.) got the start, pitching 4.0 innings, allowing one earned, was relieved by senior Ali McAnaney (Northbrook, Ill.) (3-1) who was credited with the win, tossing the final four innings, allowing one unearned run.

Middlebury blanked Williams 5-0 in game one of a three-game NESCAC West series on Friday evening.

            The Panthers jumped to a 2-0 lead in the second inning with only one hit. Margel reached on an error, advanced to second on a wild pitch by Ephs’ starter Megan Casey. Constantin helped her own cause earning a walk, as Margel raced to third on another wild pitch by Casey. After Constantin stole second, junior Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.) knocked in Margel with an RBI single to left, pushing Constantin to third. Later, on a throw down to second on a steal by Downing, Constantin scored as the late throw from home got away from the shortstop.

            Constantin was strong in the circle. After allowing a first inning walk, she retired the next 11 Williams batters, five by strike out. The Ephs’ Mary Beth Daub broke the streak, lacing a one-out double to dead center in the fifth inning. Daub worked her way to third, but was stranded, ending the threat.

            RBI singles by Crawford in the fourth and Burbridge in the fifth gave Middlebury a 4-0 lead before Hoffman lined a deep double to left for an RBI in the sixth for a 5-0 lead.

In the seventh, Morris got the first two outs, before allowing a pair of Williams batters to reach base, but enticed Amanda Correnti into a game-ending infield groundout.

            Crawford was a sharp 3-3 from the plate for Middlebury, adding an RBI. Downing went 2-3 with an RBI, while Hoffman added a double and RBI on a 1-2 day in the leadoff spot. Constantin (3-1) pitched five scoreless innings, allowing two hits, while scoring a pair of runs herself on offense. Morris pitched two innings in relief, allowing one hit.

Middlebury swept Williams in a double-header on Saturday, 13-2 and 5-1, improving to a NESCAC West leading 5-1 record and 12-4 overall. With the 5-0 win on Friday, Middlebury earned its first three-game series sweep over the Ephs (8-8, 0-3). Margel went 2-6 on the day, becoming the school’s all-time hit leader with 143. She surpasses Lauren Guza ’05, who earned 142 hits from ’02-05.

            Middlebury scored in every inning of game one, cruising to a 13-2 win in a five inning contest. Trailing 1-0, the Panthers struck for two runs on three hits in the first, leaving the bases loaded.  With one on and two outs, the Ephs loaded the bases with a pair of walks, setting up an RBI single through the left side by Burbridge. Sophomore Sarah Boylan (Danvers, Mass.) followed with a single to third to make it a 2-0 game.

            The hot bats continued in the second inning as rookie Kimber Sable (Winnetka, Ill.) led off with a double, followed by a triple from Hoffman. Seven batters later the Panthers had increased their lead to 6-1 with four runs and three hits in the inning.

            Middlebury put the game out of reach in the third inning, scoring five runs on three hits. Margel singled up the middle to plate a pair, while Burbridge belted a two-run homer to right center to make it an 11-1 game.

            Carly Ameen tripled for Williams in the top of the fourth, scoring Ali Graebner. Middlebury answered in the bottom of the inning with two more runs. Margel’s RBI groundout and a run-scoring single from Katz made it a 13-2 final.

            Margel finished the game 2-4 with two runs scored and three driven in, while Burbridge was 2-4 with a homer and four RBI. Hoffman and Wood each had two hits and three runs scored, while Sable finished 2-2, crossing the plate three times.

            McAnaney went four innings to earn the win, improving to 4-1 on the season. Morris tossed one inning of scoreless relief. Mary Beth Daub took the loss for Williams, allowing nine runs, eight earned, and seven hits over two innings of work.

            In game two, Williams took a 1-0 lead in the first inning. With runners on first and second, Ally Ensor singled through the right side, pushing both runners ahead one base. The throw home from right went past the catcher, allowing the runner from third to score.

            The Panthers got on the board in the third, scoring a pair of runs. A pair of errors put Scibetta and Hoffman on the bases. A wild pitch from Williams’ hurler Megan Casey moved both runners into scoring position Wood followed with an infield RBI single, scoring Scibetta from third. Later, with the bases loaded, Casey tossed another wild pitch, allowing all runners to advance, including Hoffman from third base, for a 2-1 Panther lead.

            Middlebury added another run in the fourth before knocking in a pair of runs in the sixth for a 5-1 lead. Lesenskyj reached on an infield single. With two outs, Downing smacked an RBI double to left center, as Lesenskyj raced in from first base. Scibetta followed with a crisp RBI single to center, plating Downing.

            Lesenskyj had a 2-2 day at the plate, entering the game in the third inning, relieving starter Constantin. She pitched 3.2 innings, while scattering four hits to improve her record to 3-2.  Morris earned her second save for Middlebury, called in to relieve Lesenskyj in the seventh with two on and the tying run on deck with no outs. She put the Ephs down 1-2-3 to end the threat.

            Scibetta went 2-3 with an RBI, while Downing collected the Panthers’ lone extra base hit, with her RBI double.
• Softball team record: 12-4
• Up next: 4/13 @ Castleton (2), 4/15 @ Hamilton, 4/16 @ Hamilton (2)