April 4, 2011

            The Panther softball team has jumped out to a 9-3 record, including taking two of three from Wesleyan in a NESCAC West series. The season began with a 9-0 blanking of McHenry, behind a one-hit shutout performance from rookie hurler Alexa Lesenskyj (Robbinsville, N.J.), who went all five innings. Senior Nellie Wood (Hampden, Maine) went 2-2 with a triple, and two RBI, while sophomore Jessica Poracky (Ramsey, N.J.) drove in three and had a homer.

            In game two of the day, the Panthers earned another shutout victory, this time by a score of 6-0 over Manchester College. Senior Geena Constantin (Pelham, N.H.) and rookie Elizabeth Morris (Kenilworth, Ill.) combined to earn the win, while senior Megan Margel (Ridgewood, N.J.) went 3-3 with two RBI. Senior Leslie Crawford (Mount Vernon, Wash.) and Poracky each had two hits in the game, with Poracky ripping a double.

            In the team’s third game of the day, Middlebury came up on the short end of a 5-4 game with Tufts. The Panthers led 4-2 entering the seventh, but the Jumbos plated three in the bottom of the inning to pick up the come-from-behind win. Senior Emily Burbridge (E. Greenwich, R.I.) went 4-4 in the game with a double and four RBI, while sophomore Jessa Hoffman (Golden, Colo.) was 3-4.

            Middlebury earned its third win of the season via the shutout, topping Oberlin 11-0 in a five inning game. Senior Ali McAnaney (Northbrook, Ill.) and Lesenskyj combined on the win, while Wood went 3-4 with two runs scored. Poracky finished the game 2-4 with two runs scored, four RBI and a double, sophomore Emma Katz (Northridge, Calif.) went 2-4 with a double, while Burbridge had a pair of hits.

            The team fell to 3-2 on the season when they dropped a 5-2 game to Cornell College. Seven different players had hits for the Panthers, including a double from sophomore Sarah Boylan (Danvers, Mass.) and a homer from Poracky.

            The Panthers earned a pair of wins on March 29th, topping Franklin 10-1 and Oberlin, 9-1. Morris and McAnaney combined the pitching duties, with Morris earning the win with four shutout innings. Hoffman, Poracky, Margel and Wood each had a pair of hits, with Poracky and Margel each earning doubles. Constantin earned the win in the Oberlin game, allowing no earned runs in the five inning game. She helped out her cause with a 3-3 day at the plate, driving in three runs and scoring one. Rookie Emily Kraytenberg (Londonderry, N.H.) went 2-3 with two runs scored, while classmate Kimber Sable (Winnetka, Ill.) also had a pair of hits.

            On their final day of the trip, the Panthers topped Cornell College 8-2, before earning a 9-0 shutout over Franklin. Morris tossed 4+ innings of scoreless relief to earn the win, while Hoffman went 2-3 with a double and two RBI in game one. Lesenskyj threw a one-hit shutout in the victory over Franklin, tossing all five innings. Crawford was 2-3 in the game with three RBI, while Hoffman went 2-4 with a triple and two driven in. Poracky and Scibetta each went 2-3.

            Middlebury returned to New England to sweep a double-header at Wesleyan, winning the first game by a 2-1 score before earning a five-inning, 8-0 victory in the nightcap. Middlebury improved to 9-2 on the season with the wins, while Wesleyan fell to 6-11.

            Middlebury wasted no time in the first game, jumping out to a 1-0 first-inning lead. Hoffman was hit by a pitch to start the game and was sacrificed to second. After a fly-out, Poracky ripped a double down the third-base line to drive in Hoffman, improving her team-high RBI total to 13.

            The Panthers extended their advantage to 2-0 in the fourth without a hit. Junior Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.)  led off with a walk and advanced to second on a groundout. Downing advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball.

            Wesleyan got its lone run in the fifth. Amy Lindland led off with a bunt single, stole second, and advanced to third on a groundout. Lindland scored on a single by Chrissy Bello, which gave Bello her team-leading 23rd RBI.

            McAnaney (2-1) went the first four innings for Middlebury before giving way to Morris, who handled the final three frames for her second save. The run allowed by Morris in the fifth is the only earned run she has allowed this season in 18 innings of work. Dana Levy (2-5) went the distance in the circle for Wesleyan.

            In the nightcap, Middlebury scored four times in the first and never looked back. Hoffman was again hit by a pitch to open the game and was sacrificed to second. Margel drove in Hoffman with a single up the middle. Back-to-back singles by Poracky and Constantin loaded the bases before Burbridge roped a two-run single through the right side. Middlebury made it 4-0 when a throwing error by Wesleyan allowed Constantin to score from second.

            The visitors made it 7-0 in the third. Downing was hit by a pitch to open the inning, and Boylan followed with a two-run home run to left-center. Middlebury followed with four consecutive singles for its seventh run. The Panthers made it 8-0 in the fifth as Poracky led off with a double to left, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Downing.

            Constantin (3-1) threw all five innings for Middlebury, scattering four hits. Caitlyn Grudzinski (4-4) took the loss for Wesleyan, allowing seven runs (six earned) in 2.1 innings of work before giving way to Jess Shevins.

            The Cardinals topped the Panthers 8-0 in five innings in softball action Sunday afternoon in the final game of the series.

Wesleyan took a 3-0 lead three batters into the game. Following a bunt single by Allee Beatty and a four-pitch walk to Dana Levy, Chrissy Bello launched a towering drive to left that just made it over the fence for her second round-tripper of the year. The home run was the first allowed by the Middlebury pitching staff this season, and the three runs were the first allowed by Lesenskyj this year.

            The Cardinals made it 4-0 in the second on a two-out home run by Levy, her second of the year. Wesleyan added two more runs in the third off Morris, who had held the Cardinals to one run on three hits in three innings of relief during Saturday's first game. A one-out double by Matti Peters scored Talia Bernstein, who led off with a single. Following a groundout, Tori Redding blooped a single inside the right-field line to score Peters.

            The final two runs came on a trio of doubles in the fifth. Alexis Kral drove a ball to the gap in right-center to lead off the inning and advanced to third on a groundout. Sam Epstein ripped a ball down the left-field line to score Kral, and Redding followed with a double to the wall in right-center that plated pinch-runner Alex Sarkowsky with the Cardinals' eighth run.

            Wesleyan’s Laura Getchell, making her fourth career start, cruised through five innings, allowing only two hits and one walk to pick up her first career victory. She retired the side in order in the second and fifth innings, marking the first time this season Middlebury has gone 1-2-3 in multiple innings in the same game. Lesenskyj took the loss for Middlebury, falling to 2-1.

            Through a dozen games, Poracky (.500) leads the team in hitting, followed by Burbridge (.429), Wood (.414) Crawford (.391) and Hoffman (.368). Constantin is 3-1 with a 0.47 ERA in four starts.
• Softball team record: 9-3
• Up next: 4/5 vs. Rensselaer (2) – 3:30, 4/8 vs. Williams – 5:00, 4/9 vs. Williams (2) – 12:00