Softball Dominates En Route to Four Wins against Non-Conference Opponents
Issue   |   Tue, 04/19/2016 - 22:57
Janna Joassainte '17
The team has had a strong season so far, winning four straight to earn a 17-5 overall record. They are also 4-1 against NESCAC opponents.

The softball team heads into its next week of games coming off its strongest weekend yet. Winning four out of four games against non-conference foes Smith and Bates, they are looking to continue this winning streak through the final fortnight of their season.

Their record currently sits at 17-5 overall and 4-1 in NESCAC play. The first double-header of the weekend at Smith was marked by closer games — the first went into extra innings and the second ended in a 5-3 win for the purple and white. The contests with Bates on Saturday ended in decisive wins, especially the first, which finished when a run rule took effect after five innings.

The game against Smith, which ended as a 3-2 victory for Amherst, went scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when the Pioneers scored on a series of singles. Julia Turner ’19 hit a leadoff triple in the following inning and crossed the plate after a Sammy Salustri ’19 single to tie the game and eventually send it into extra innings. Each team earned a single run in the eighth inning, keeping the score knotted.

The visiting purple and white were finally able to win the game in the top of the ninth inning, when Bailey Plaman ’18 moved Lauren Tuiskula ’17 over due to a Smith error. The Pioneers came close to extending the game, with a runner on third, but sophomore pitcher Gina Pagan struck out the last two batters who were hoping to score their teammate.

In the next game, both teams had a breakout third inning after going scoreless for the first two. Amherst scored their three runs first — Alena Marovitz ’17 scored two runs off her double, and then crossed the plate herself thanks to Tuiskula’s drive up the middle. Smith fought back later that inning with a two-run homerun by Allison Snyder.

The purple and white widened their lead by two in the fourth inning with hits from Nicolette Miranda ’16, Plaman and Turner, who added her second triple of the night. Amherst shut down Smith, who scored only a single run in the sixth inning, until the game was called due to darkness.

Amherst made a statement early in the first game against Bates on their home field when they coasted on for an easy 8-0 win. They only needed five hits to score all eight runs; four of these were singles, the last was a home-run by Marovitz. The high scoring game was aided by seven walks by the Bobcats pitcher. Marovitz totaled the first RBI when she brought Turner home with a sacrifice fly after the first-year’s leadoff single. Miranda stole a base in the second for the offensive effort and Brianna Cook ’16 added another sacrifice fly to score her. Sara Buck ’19 was hit by a pitch to put her on base in the third. Junior Jackie Buechler excelled in the circle for the purple and white, allowing only one hit and no runs throughout the game.

The following game began similarly, with Amherst ahead 6-0 by the end of the third inning. However, this time around, the Bobcats were able to give the home team more of a challenge — the game ended 7-4.

Even with a somewhat stronger performance, the Bates team was unable to match an impressive Amherst performance that included three home runs. Annie Apffel ’17 contributed two solo homers and Annie Murphy ’19 blasted another in the second inning that scored Plaman and Apffel. The score differential stayed large until the sixth inning, when Amherst let up enough to allow Bates to notch four runs that brought them within three. This score would last the game. The pitching staff contributed another impressive game; Lorena Ukanwa ’19 struck out eleven batters, a season-best for the young pitcher, and Pagan struck out two of the three batters she faced during the final inning of the game.

“I think this weekend really gave us an opportunity to tune up our skills before our big weekend against Williams”, Apffel said. “It has set us up in a position to be really successful with the rest of our season.”

The team continues its non-conference play on Wednesday at Keene State University. They will then jump back into conference play, facing tough, Little Three rival Williams for a three-game series on Friday and Saturday this weekend.