May 2, 2011

The Panther softball team split a doubleheader with Skidmore on Wednesday, winning the first game of the twin-bill 2-0, before falling in extra innings 3-1 in the nightcap. The game one victory extended the Panthers school-best winning streak to 17, while setting a Middlebury record for wins in a season. A strong wind coming from right-centerfield played a role in the game as neither team managed an extra-base hit in either game.

In the opener, Panther rookie Elizabeth Morris (Kenilworth, Ill.) pitched an eight strikeout, two-hit gem as the Panthers scratched across solo runs in the second and fifth innings for the 2-0 win.

With one out in the second, senior Emily Burbridge (E. Greenwich, R.I.) reached first on a fielder’s choice. She was pushed to second on a ground-out before being knocked home by sophomore Sarah Boylan’s (Danvers, Mass.) RBI single up the middle for a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth the Panthers made it 2-0, as junior Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.) led off with a sharp single up the middle. Later with Downing on second with two outs, senior Megan Margel (Ridgewood, N.J.) singled through the left side. On the play Downing raced for home and scored as the catcher misplayed the throw from left field.

Skidmore had its best chance in the sixth. After a one-out single by Christina Gargiso, Katie Peverada reached on a two-base throwing error, allowing Gargiso to move to third. Morris got out of the jam, with a 1-3 groundout before striking out the next batter to end the threat.

Margel had the lone two-hit game (2-3) as six other Panthers recorded singles. Thoroughbred starter Sam Crose (4-10) took the loss, allowing two runs, one earned, over six innings.

In game two both teams scored a run in the first inning as neither team could push a second runner across home until Skidmore scored a pair in the tie-breaking eighth inning.

After a Gargiso single led off the game, Panther senior starter Ali McAnaney (Northbrook, Ill.) balked her to second. Peverada followed with a single, allowing Gargiso to reach third. Charlotte Evens followed, hitting into a double play 5-3-2-4 that put-out Pervada at second after the Panthers tried to tag out Gargiso at home.

Middlebury tied it at 1-1 in the bottom of the frame with a two-out rally. A single from sophomore Jessica Poracky (Ramsey, N.J.) bookended a pair of walks by Skidmore starter Katie Sorochka to load the bases. Rookie Alex Scibetta (Ridgewood, N.J.) followed with an RBI single.

The Panthers had a great chance to plate a pair in the second with runners on second and third with no outs, but Sorochka enticed a pair of groundouts and lineout to shortstop to end the inning.

The Thoroughbreds had their best threat thwarted in the sixth as they loaded the bases with no outs against Middlebury senior reliever Geena Constantin (Pelham, N.H.). Another double-play, this off a fly-out to center and a throw home by senior Nellie Wood (Hampden, Maine), got the first two outs. The next batter grounded out to second for the third out. A quiet seventh inning followed, forcing a tie-breaking extra innings segment.

Skidmore, with Gargiso placed at second worked her way to third on a SAC bunt. Evans followed with a weak shot between the pitcher and first. Constantin’s throw home was off target, allowing Gargiso to score. Evans worked her way to third and with two-outs Caitlin Ketcham singled her home for a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the eighth, Middlebury, with a runner placed on second, went down in order, capping its winning streak at 17 in a row.

Poracky went 2-4, as Scibetta accounted for the other Panther hit, adding an RBI. For the game, Middlebury stranded 11 base-runners. Constantin (6-2) suffered the set-back, pitching the final four innings, allowing two runs, one earned, as McAnaney went four innings, allowing one earned run.

With a doubleheader sweep of Plymouth State on Monday, Middlebury tied the school record for wins in a season with 24. The pair of Panther squads met under wet conditions as Middlebury took game one 3-2 in eight innings, while shutting out Plymouth State 3-0 in the nightcap.

In game one, Plymouth State opened a scoreless second with a leadoff single by Jackie Digman, who advanced to second on a fielding error. A SAC bunt pushed her to third before Taylor Mancini walked. Denise Freitas followed with a two-out RBI single, scoring Digman. Jenn Bove followed with an RBI single to right for a 2-0 lead.

Middlebury got one run back in the fourth during an odd play that nearly cost the home team a triple-play. After Margel opened the frame with a sharp single up the middle, Poracky mashed a double to the base of the right field wall, advancing Margel to third. With no outs, Burbridge grounded out to second. As Poracky raced to third during the play, she was forced back to second as Margel stayed at third. Plymouth State ended up tagging out Poracky as she raced back to second for a double-play. During the tag out of Poracky, Margel raced for home, narrowly beating the throw from second to avoid the near triple-play for a run.

Middlebury tied it in the sixth as sophomore Jessa Hoffman (Golden, Colo.) opened the inning with her school-record 13th triple. Margel later plated her with an RBI single, making it a 2-2 game as the teams went to extra innings.

With a runner placed on second base to start the extra-inning tie-breaker in the eighth, Plymouth State went down quietly. Middlebury placed pinch-runner Wood at second as senior Leslie Crawford (Mount Vernon, Wash.) knocked a one-out single allowing Wood to reach third. After Margel was intentionally walked to load the bases, Poracky came to the plate. With the first good offering from Plymouth State starter Amber White, Poracky launched a game-winning single to deep right field, scoring Wood from third for the 3-2 win.

Margel went 2-3 with an RBI, as Poracky chipped in with a double along with the game winning RBI single. McAnaney pitched the first 6.2 innings, allowing two earned runs, as Morris (7-0) earned the win going the final 1.1 innings.

Game two saw a pitcher’s duel through the first three innings before Middlebury scored all three runs of the game in the fourth off starter Nora Galvin. With two outs, Middlebury put runners on first and second as Downing followed with an RBI single. After Wood walked to load the bases, Hoffman knocked in two more with a single for a 3-0 lead.

That was all the runs the pitching tandem of Morris and Constantin needed. The two hurlers combined on a one-hit shut-out, Middlebury’s 14th of the season. Each pitcher faced one extra batter than the minimum, as Morris (8-0) allowed a single to Plymouth State’s Diana Bean over the first four innings, while Constantin allowed a walk over the final three innings for her first save. In the batter’s box, first-year player Emily Kraytenberg (Londonderry, N.H.) had a 2-3 day with a run scored for Middlebury in the second game.
• Softball team record: 22-4
• Up next: 5/2 @ Union (2) – 5/6-8 @ NESCAC Tournament (5/6 vs. Trinity @ Tufts)