Softball Wins Three of Four, Dominates Middlebury over Two Games
Issue   |   Wed, 04/06/2016 - 00:24
Janna Joassainte '17
Amherst softball is off to a hot start this season, having won two straight and sporting an 11-4 record overall. The team is also undefeated in NESCAC play.

Winning three of their four scheduled home games in the past week, the softball team has been as successful as they have been busy.

After splitting Wednesday’s doubleheader with Worchester Polytechnic Institute, the purple and white destroyed NESCAC rival Middlebury in the first two games of the three-game series with the Panthers. The outcome of the final game remains to be seen, as it was suspended after five innings due to darkness after several rain delays and is to be completed at a later date.

The home-opening double header started off well, especially for first-year Sara Buck, who blasted her first collegiate home run in the second inning. Buck helped to pace the Amherst offense, batting two-for-three in the low-scoring 2-1 win.

A few innings after Buck’s homer, the Engineers managed to tie the game due to a throwing error and a pass ball by the Amherst catcher. Fortunately, after a single by first-year Julia Turner and a stolen base, sacrifice bunt and a wild pitch from WPI, Turner crossed the plate to score the game-winning run.

The Engineers returned to the field hungry after their tight loss earlier in the evening. The second game got moving quickly; the score was locked at 2-2 by the end of the first inning. First-years Sammy Salustri and Kyra Naftel both contributed runs for the purple and white offense.

Unfortunately, the Engineers took their final lead in the sixth inning and added an insurance run in the seventh, finalizing the score at 6-4. Amherst only had seven hits throughout the game, four of which came in the first inning. Naftel and Brianna Cook ’16, with two hits apiece, led the losing effort.

Friday afternoon’s single game began the series with Middlebury and ended in a 5-3 victory for the Amherst squad.

Middlebury put pressure on the home team early in the game, scoring twice in the first inning, but the purple and white were able to fight back.

Amherst played a strategic game to even the score: While Buck was on base due to a walk, Ashleigh Rutherford ’16 put down a huge suicide squeeze to advance her teammate. Annie Murphy ’19 was then credited with an RBI on a sacrifice fly that succeeded in bringing Buck home.

Going into the bottom of the seventh down by one, Turner came up with a huge lead off triple to knot the game at three. Unfortunately, the purple and white couldn’t push another run across the plate and the game was forced into extra innings before a walk-off, two-run home run from Cook in the ninth inning gave Amherst the win.

Middlebury again started the offensive action in Saturday’s opening game. However, Amherst, who tallied four hits over the course of the game, had the offensive power to counter the Panthers.

The purple and white batted through their entire line-up in the fourth inning, scoring three runs when Alena Marovitz ’17 doubled with the bases loaded. At 7-2, the game was clearly under Amherst’s control.

Thanks to stellar pitching by first-year Lorena Ukanwa, Middlebury only scored two runs throughout the rest of the game, which ended in a 7-4 home-team victory.

The third game, suspended for the time being, was halted with Middlebury ahead, 9-6. Finally on their offensive game, the Panthers took advantage of two hit-by-pitches and four singles to notch five runs in the second inning.

Though the middle part of the game, Middlebury extended their lead to 9-3. Later, though, Amherst’s defensive game kicked in and prevented more Panther runs in the top of the inning.

In the bottom, they cut their opponents’ lead by three. The purple and white will be looking to continue their offensive momentum from April 2 when the remainder of the game is rescheduled.

Due to the weather, Amherst’s two-game series with Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, scheduled for Wednesday, April 6, has been cancelled. The team will return to action on Friday and Saturday, April 8-9, when they will travel to Hamilton for a three-game series. The game on Friday starts at 5 p.m. while Saturday’s doubleheader begins at noon.