Softball Takes Wesleyan Series, Named Little Three Champions
Issue   |   Wed, 04/29/2015 - 00:06
Megan Robertson '15
Captain Kelsey Ayers '15 finished with a team best .398 batting average.

From a grand slam spark by a first-year to consistently strong output from their captains and seniors, the Amherst women’s softball team bounced back from a tough series last weekend. Amherst won their Wednesday game against Elms College and their weekend series against Wesleyan to close out their 2015 regular season campaign.

After losing some very close games over the previous week and coming in on a three-game skid, the team faced Elms College looking to get back on track and regain some winning momentum at home. Though the game was scoreless through the first inning and the top of the second, the Jeffs didn’t waste much time in making a big statement with their offense and showing they intended to put away any doubts from previous games. The team notched eight runs in the bottom of the frame, creating a gap that Elms would never be able to close. The scoring barrage began with only one out and the bases loaded, with Idalia Friedson ’15 reaching first on an error to score Ally Kido ’18, whose impact in the inning wouldn’t end with just that run. After Ashleigh Rutherford ’16 walked with the bases loaded two batters later to score Alyssa Sherwill ’15, Brianna Cook ’16 capitalized on another Blazerss error to bring in Friedson and Annie Apffel ’17.

The 4-0 lead at this point wouldn’t be the end of the scoring for the Jeffs, however. After Caroline Sealander ’15 walked to load the bases again, Kido found herself at the plate for the second time in the inning and delivered a huge hit, belting a grand slam over the center field fence to clear the bases and push the Amherst lead to 8-0. Though the Jeffs would conclude the inning without any more runs, they started the bottom of the third right where they left off. With two outs, Rutherford doubled to score Kelsey Ayers ’15 and Apffel and move the gap to 10-0. On the very next at-bat, Cook singled to score her classmate before scoring herself on a double from Kido that would also bring in Sealander.

Though Elms would manage to put up one run in the top of the fourth off of an Amherst miscue, the Jeffs would score yet again in the bottom of the inning thanks to another RBI hit from Rutherford that would drive in Sherwill. Lauren Tuiskula ’17 would retire the first three batters she faced to close out the game in five innings. Her pitching punctuated a strong pitching effort from the Jeffs, with Jackie Buechler ’17 pitching two innings of one-hit ball and Nicolette Miranda ’16 grabbing the win with two innings in which she only allowed the Blazers’ single unearned run.

The team rode the momentum of their 14-1 win into their weekend series against Wesleyan. Unlike Wednesday, when offensive production won the day, this weekend pitching would prove to be the dominant force. Buechler pitched her second complete game shutout of the season, scattering four hits across the seven innings while striking out three. She didn’t lack offensive support, however, with co-captains Ayers and Cook each contributing 2 for 4 efforts. The Jeffs opened the scoring in the top of the fourth, with Sealander and Alena Marovitz ’17 crossing the plate after a single and walk, respectively. The team closed out the effort in the top of the seventh, with Cook cracking a two-run triple to right field to drive in Kido and Ayers.

Amherst continued the series with a doubleheader on Saturday for their senior day. They ended up losing the first leg but winning the second to win the series and end the regular season on a positive note. In the first game, Wesleyan jumped to an early lead thanks to a Jill Gately two-run homer in the top of the first and a run from Isabel Linzer in the top of the third. They added their fourth run in the top of the fifth to take a 4-0 lead, but the Jeffs would stop them there and mount a comeback. In the bottom of the sixth, Kido, coming off her six RBI effort against Elms, added her third homer of the season to also drive in Sealander. However, the team couldn’t knock away any more at the Cardinals, and they headed into the third game of the series off of a 4-2 loss.

In the second game on senior day, the seniors were appropriately be the ones to lead the team to a win in their final game of the year. The Jeffs took an early lead this time, grabbing a 4-0 lead after two innings. Ayers jump-started the team in the bottom of the first, hitting a double before scoring off an RBI bunt single from Cook. Fellow senior Sealander then doubled to score two more runs to build up a 3-0 lead. Friedson continued the seniors’ contributions, scoring in the bottom of the second off a Sealander sacrifice fly. Wesleyan put up a scare in the next two innings, scoring two runs to cut the deficit in half, but the Jeffs’ seniors were too much this game, with Donna Leet ’15 knocking a two-run single and Friedson hitting a sacrifice fly to score Sherwill. Buechler pitched the final three innings to close out the game for the Jeffs, allowing two runs but still escaping with the save. Tuiskula grabbed the win, pitching four innings and allowing only two runs (one earned) to bump up her season record to 4-0.

“After having a tough weekend, I think it was important that we won our Elms game on Wednesday,” Kido said. “Our seniors are awesome, and I’m happy we left them with W’s on their final games. I’m excited to build on this experience for next year.”

With these games, the team has reached the end of its season, finishing 16-12 overall and 5-7 in NESCAC competition.