Softball Drops Contests to Midd and Hamilton Over Weekend
Issue   |   Tue, 04/21/2015 - 23:12
Kurt Ayers
Ally Kido '18 maintains an impressive .304 batting average this year.

Coming off of an exciting series win against Williams last weekend, the Amherst women’s softball team had a busy week of games, playing six in just five days. The Jeffs showed some strong pitching and hitting over the course of the games, although they ultimately lost some very close conference matchups.

On April 15, the team played a doubleheader at home against Smith, splitting the twin bill thanks to a walk-off double by Caroline Sealander ’15 in the second leg. In the first game, the Pioneers tallied two runs in the top of the second off an Amherst error before adding another run in both the fourth and sixth innings to take a 4-0 lead. The Amherst bats came alive in the bottom of the sixth, with Sealander hitting an RBI double to follow consecutive singles by Brianna Cook ’16 and Alyssa Sherwill ’15. Smith would counter with two more runs in the top of the seventh before Kelsey Ayers ’15 belted a triple and then scored on a later Pioneer error. Jackie Buechler ’17 started the game strongly for the Jeffs, pitching four innings and yielding only one earned run (and two unearned) to go with five strikeouts, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Pioneers in check, as the Jeffs would fall 6-2.

In the night game, Smith scored early after a Tori Brown solo shot. But the Jeffs wouldn’t be down for long, thanks to an RBI single from first-year Ally Kido that brought in Ayers. After the score moved to 2-2 thanks to a Sarah Tully RBI double for Smith and an RBI single from Cook to score Ayers, the game heated up going into the sixth. Even though the Pioneers got a three-run RBI triple from Tully as part of her five RBI game in the top of the sixth, the Jeffs would claw back to force extra innings. Sealander continued her great play, doubling to right center to drive in Cook and Kido and close the deficit to one.

Alena Marovitz ’17 would add to the mid-range power display, adding a double of her own to drive in Sealander to move the game into extra innings. The game seemed to get out of reach of the Jeffs again after the Pioneers’ Tully added her last RBI of the game. But in the bottom of the frame, with two outs and the doubleheader loss on the line, Sealander would hit the most important double of the game — a line drive to the fence in left that would drive in both Kido and Ayers and clinch the win for the Jeffs. Lauren Tuiskula ’17 picked up the win in the contest, allowing only one unearned run and three hits over the course of 2.2 relief innings.

Coming off the thrilling win against Smith, the Jeffs traveled up to Middlebury to play a single game on Friday and a doubleheader on Saturday. The Jeffs came away with a crucial NESCAC victory in their Friday matchup, winning a close game by a 3-2 margin. Some of the main leaders during the Smith victory would prove to be key players again, as Sealander, Cook and Kido all had two hits apiece. Sealander, with a single to right center to drive in Cook, and Marovitz, with a left field sacrifice fly to drive in Nicolette Miranda ’16, accounted for an RBI each in the top of the second to bring the Jeffs to a 2-0 lead. Though the Panthers cut the deficit to one in the bottom of the third, Amherst struck again with Ayers scoring on an error by the Panthers’ shortstop. Middlebury would only get one more run in the bottom of the sixth, as Buechler closed out the game retiring three batters in a row in the bottom of the seventh. Her pitching effort played a pivotal role in the 3-2 victory, throwing a complete game while allowing only one earned run and striking out seven.

Unfortunately, the doubleheader the next day did not prove to be as successful for the Jeffs. In the first matchup, Middlebury scored three runs in the first inning, tacking on two more in the bottom of the third to jump to a 5-4 lead. However, the Jeffs would manage a strong offensive response in the top of the sixth thanks to a kick-start from Donna Leet ’15. She reached on a bunt single, stole second, then moved to third on a Cook single. When Cook added another steal to the inning, Leet dashed for home to put the Jeffs on the board. Sealander then added yet another RBI to her busy week, driving in Cook to cut the deficit to three. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, the team mustered a final rally, with Cook contributing some more offense with a single to drive in Leet and Ayers and cut the deficit to one. But the Panthers’ pitcher Neve Stearns would force a groundout to end the game, just barely fanning Amherst’s furious rally.

The Jeffs had a tough second game of the doubleheader, getting behind 7-2 after the first three innings and eventually losing 11-3. Among the game’s highlights were more offense from the trio of Cook (1 for 3 with an RBI), Leet (1 for 3 with a run), and Ayers (1 for 3 with a run). Marovitz added some power hitting with a solo shot in the sixth as part of a 2 for 3 game.

Amherst closed out the weekend with a home matchup against Hamilton on Sunday afternoon. Despite outhitting the Continentals 7-4, the Jeffs would ultimately just come up short in losing the game 3-2, bringing their overall record to 13-11 and their NESCAC record to 3-6.

Sherwill led the Jeffs in the game with three hits, including a double, along with Kido who added a double as part of a 2 for 3 line. The team rallied in the bottom of the sixth behind singles from Ashleigh Rutherford ’16, Sealander, and Kido and a sacrifice fly from Miranda to score Rutherford, but it wasn’t enough.

“This weekend was a testament to our team’s character,” Marovitz said. “While the games were close, we failed to execute clutch plays when necessary. Hopefully we can bounce back and come out strong in our last few games.”

The Jeffs return to action on Wednesday when they host Elms College for a single game with first pitch slated for 4 p.m.