Softball Drops NESCAC Doubleheader to Hamilton, Responds with a 3-2 Walk-Off Win Over Non-Conference Foe Brandeis
Issue   |   Wed, 04/08/2015 - 00:53

The lengthy winter has thrown off the Amherst softball team’s schedule since returning from spring break. Despite the canceled games, the Jeffs still got in three games over the last two weeks, playing a doubleheader against Hamilton on March 27 and a game against Brandeis on April 3. They now sport a record of 9-6 on the season.

The team started off their NESCAC campaign with two games against Hamilton in Auburn, Massachusetts. With the Jeffs finding themselves in early holes to the Continentals in both games, they came away with two losses on the day. However, there were still glimpses of solid efforts from players to buoy the team.

In the first game, Hamilton bolted to a 6-0 lead after two and a half innings. But the Jeffs answered in the bottom of the third to cut the deficit to 6-2. Jackie Carr ’18, who played a leading role in both segments of the doubleheader, hit a triple to drive in Kelsey Ayers ’15 and later scored on an infield single by Donna Leet ’15.

In the second game of the doubleheader, Hamilton went up 4-0 after the first. But the Jeffs stormed back in the bottom of the second to take the lead. They were lead by Brianna Cook ’15, one of the co-captains alongside Ayers and Leet, who started off the inning with a single. Alyssa Sherwill ’15 singled to center to drive in two runs and cut the deficit in half, and on the next at-bat Caroline Sealander ’15 contributed an RBI double to close within one run. Ayers hit a sacrifice fly to continue her 2 for 3 effort, Carr smacked an RBI triple as she went 3 for 4 for the game and Cook finished the onslaught with a two-run RBI triple. However, the runs would dry up after this inning and Hamilton would come back in the fourth and fifth innings with five runs to take the game from the Jeffs and win 9-7.

Not dwelling on their losses against Hamilton, the team won an incredibly hard-fought battle against Brandeis last Friday to regain momentum. Ayers, who would be the late-game hero in this game, said, “The win was a great turning point for us. We had struggled the weekend before against Hamilton and we needed this win for our morale.”

It was Amherst this time that would jump to the lead in the bottom of the fourth behind an RBI double from Nicolette Miranda ’16 and an RBI triple from Sherwill. A pitching gem from Jackie Buehler ’17 supported the Jeffs throughout the game as she threw six scoreless innings with five strikeouts and allowed only five hits. Gina Pagan ’18 would follow Buechler’s lead, picking up the win after not allowing an earned run to go along with collecting 3 strikeouts.

The game seemed to take a turn for the worse when Brandeis tied the game 2-2 in the top of the seventh off two unearned runs. However, the Jeffs wouldn’t be fazed. First-year Ally Kido singled to right to start off the seventh, advancing on the next at-bat thanks to a single from Lauren Tuiskula ’17. When Tuiskula and Kido stole second and third, the team seemed primed to pull out the win. Ayers would step up to close out the game, hitting a single to left that drove in Kido to seal the victory. In giving a replay of the final inning, Ayers said, “It was great to see the three girls before me come off the bench to pinch hit and string together two singles and a steal to get into scoring position. Everyone worked together to put us in the optimal position to score and all I had to do was hit it past the infield. The energy was great in that last half inning, and it was so fun to see everyone’s excitement when we got the walk-off.”

The Jeffs will play Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Wednesday, April 8 at home.