Late rally lifts #6-seeded Brandeis past #3 Rivier, 2-1, in ECAC Quarterfinals

NASHUA, N.H. – The sixth-seeded Brandeis University softball team staged a seventh-inning rally today to pick up their first-ever ECAC tournament victory, 2-1, over No. 3 seed Rivier College.

Brandeis (22-19) trailed, 1-0, headed into the top of the seventh and had mustered just two hits against Rivier rookie pitcher Monica White (Augusta, Maine). The Judges led off the final inning with back-to-back bunt singles by senior CF Marissa Rubin (Teaneck, N.J.) and rookie SS Chelsea Korp (Worcester, Mass.). With junior RF Natalie Volpe (Southington, Conn.) at the plate, Rivier sophomore catcher Jenna Beadle (Rumney, N.H.) erased Rubin on the back end of a double steal to put a runner on second with one out.

On a 1-2 pitch, Volpe struck the ball down the first-base line, where it went through the legs of the Rivier first baseman, allowing Korp to score the tying run. Volpe moved to second on the throw and was sacrificed to third by rookie catcher Erin Ross (Manalapan, N.J.). That brought up sophomore 3B Samantha Worth (Londonderry, N.H.), whose ground ball snuck under the glove of the Raider third baseman and allowed the winning run to score.

Rivier (25-10) had taken the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, when they had two of their three hits off Brandeis rookie Emily Vaillette (Milford, N.H.). With one out, White singled to right field. Junior shortstop Kim Pease (Franklin, N.H.) followed with a double over the left-fielder's head, allowing White to score from first. Pease moved to third on the throw, but Vaillette got a strikeout and a fly ball to center field to end the threat.

Vaillette became the second Brandeis pitcher with six wins this season. She went the distance, striking out five and walking two to improve to 6-5 with her team-leading ninth complete game. The three hits she allowed were the fewest in any game that she finished.

The late unearned runs spoiled a fine performance by White, the Greater Northeast Athletic Conference Rookie and Pitcher of the Year. She struck out 10 Brandeis batters without issuing a walk, and gave up just four hits. White fell to 18-6 on the season.

Brandeis will now head to the semifinal round, which will be a double-elimination format at the site of the highest seed remaining. The Judges will face Western Connecticut State at noon, with an elimination game at 2 p.m. and a winner's bracket game at 4 p.m.