April 25, 2011

The Panther softball team clinched the top seed in the NESCAC West, finishing league play with an 11-1 mark. Middlebury has six games remaining on its regular season schedule, before taking the road for the NESCAC Tourney May 6-8.

Middlebury completed its first three-game sweep of Amherst, topping the Jeffs (13-14, 5-4) 8-0 in six innings in game three of the series on Saturday. The Panthers improve to 22-4, finishing NESCAC West play with an 11-1 mark. Senior Geena Constantin (Pelham, N.H.) allowed just two singles over six innings of work, earning the complete game victory with 10 strikeouts. She improves to 6-1 on the season with a mere 0.42 ERA. Constantin helped her own cause by finishing 3-3 at the plate, driving in three runs. She also became the school's all-time leader in strikeouts, fanning 266 batters in her career.

The pitcher drove in sophomore Jessica Poracky (Ramsey, N.J.) with an RBI single in the second inning. Middlebury struck for four runs in the third, behind RBI doubles from seniors Megan Margel (Ridgewood, N.J.) and Leslie Crawford (Mount Vernon, Wash.), and run-scoring singles from senior Emily Burbridge (E. Greenwich, R.I.) and Constantin.

Leading 5-0 in the fifth, Poracky hit an RBI double, driving in rookie Kimber Sable (Winnetka, Ill.), who pinch-ran for Margel after a lead-off walk. Two batters later, Constantin plated Poracky with a single. Middlebury added a run in the eighth when sophomore Jessa Hoffman (Golden, Colo.) was driven in by Margel, after a triple.

            Margel finished the game 2-3 with two RBI and a run scored, while Crawford went 2-3 with an RBI and run scored.

            Theresa Kelley (8-11) took the loss for Amherst, allowing eight runs, three earned, over 5.2 innings of work. Reilly Horan had the Jeff’s lone hit.

Game one on Friday took extra innings as the game was tied at 2-2 after seven innings of play. Poracky led off the ninth with a double to left, while Burbridge did the same to plate Poracky with the game-winning run.

Tied at 1-1 in the sixth, Poracky single to third and moved to second on an error. She was replaced by first-year player Emily Kraytenberg (Londonderry, N.H.) before scoring on a double to left by Burbridge.

Amherst answered in the bottom of the inning with a solo homer to left by Katie Kervick, her second of the season.

The Jeffs had a chance in the eighth with a one-out triple down the right field line by Reilly Horan, but were unable to take the lead.

Constantin went seven innings for Middlebury, allowing one earned run and struckout out nine. Rookie Elizabeth Morris (Kenilworth, Ill.) moved to 6-0 on the season with two innings of relief, striking out four of six batters she faced. Burbridge finished with two RBI doubles, while Poracky and Hoffman each had a pair of hits, including a double.

Theresa Kelley (8-9) went the distance for the Jeffs, allowing two earned runs, while striking out 11 over eight innings of work. Horan finished 2-4 with a triple, while Kervick homered.

In the nightcap, a scoreless game was broken in the fourth after a one-out single by Constantin followed with a double by Poracky. A fielding error on the relay allowed Constantin to score from third for a 1-0 lead.

Amherst battled back in the fifth, loading the bases with two outs, but senior Ali McAnaney (Northbrook, Ill.) struck out Carolyn Miller on a 1-2 curveball to end the threat. The Panthers plated a pair in the bottom of the frame for a 3-0 lead. Senior Nellie Wood (Hampden, Maine)  punched a one-out single up the middle off game two starter Kelley. During Hoffman’s at-bat, Wood stole second. Hoffman followed with an RBI triple to left, scoring Wood. Crawford followed with a fielder’s choice to third, but the speedy Hoffman beat the throw to home.

Middlebury added two more in the sixth, finally solving Kelley’s pitches. Kelley, who already pitched 14 innings before reaching the sixth, was tagged with a towering leadoff homer by Poracky to left; later sophomore Emma Katz (Northridge, Calif.) tripled to right. Katz tagged up on a daring SAC foul-out to first for the 5-0 lead, as a fielding error allowed her to score.

McAnaney (8-1) struck out six over five scoreless innings as Morris pitched the final two innings for her third save on the year. Poracky led the way, slugging a homer and a double with an RBI with a 2-3 outing. Wood was a stellar 3-3 with a double, while Hoffman and Katz each added a triple.

Kelley suffered the setback, dropping to 8-10 on the year, striking out just one batter over six innings. Horan was the lone Jeff to have a multi-hit game, going 2-3 as no Amherst hitter had an extra-base hit in game two.

Middlebury earned its 10th and 11th shutouts of the season as the Panthers cruised to 8-0 and 19-0 wins over Lyndon State (5-13). Hoffman doubled in game two, setting the new Middlebury single-season record with 11.

            McAnaney (7-1) was the story in game one, striking out 12 in the six inning game, while facing the minimum. She K’d 10 of the first 12 batters she faced, giving up a long single up the middle in the fourth.

            Leading 1-0, Middlebury struck for four runs in the fourth inning on five hits. A two-run single to center by Hoffman and a two-run double to left by Poracky plated the runs. A solo homer to left by Burbridge made it a 6-0 game, before the Panthers ended the game with a pair in the sixth. Back-to-back doubles to left by Margel and Poracky made it 7-0, before Poracky scored on a groundout by Burbridge to end the game.

            Poracky went 3-4 with a double and four RBI, while Burbridge was 2-4 with a homer and two driven in. Margel also finished the game with a pair of hits, including a double. Natalia Shams had the lone hit for Lyndon, as Meghan Gadapee (4-7) took the loss.

            Middlebury sent 19 batters to the plate in the fourth inning of game two, scoring 14 runs on its way to a 19-0 win in a five inning contest. RBI doubles by rookie Alex Scibetta (Ridgewood, N.J.) and Kraytenberg gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Middlebury added three more in the third, before the fourth inning explosion. Scibetta, Kraytenberg, junior Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.) and Constantin each had two hits in the inning, with a pair of doubles from Constantin.

Constantin (5-1) picked up the win with nine strikeouts over four innings of work, allowing just two hits, while lowering her ERA to 0.38 on the season. First-year pitcher Alexa Lesenskyj (Robbinsville, N.J.) tossed the fifth, striking out a pair. Scibetta finished the game 3-4 with a double, four RBI and two runs scored, while Kraytenberg was 3-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. Constantin drove in six runs with a 2-4 game, while Margel and Downing also had a pair of hits. Shams had both of Lyndon’s hits, while taking the loss.
• Softball team record: 22-4
• Up next: 4/25 vs. Plymouth (2) – 3:30, 4/27 vs. Skidmore (2) – 3:30