Softball walks off with ECAC crown, 6-5, over Keene State

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University softball team won the ECAC Division III New England tournament championship in dramatic fashion today, as the Judges defeated Keene State College, 6-5, in the championship game by scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Senior pitcher/DP Kaitlin Streilein (Point Pleasant, N.J.) earned the win in relief, claiming Tournament MVP honors. Streilein earned all four Brandeis wins in the circle and batted a team-high .538 (7-13) for the tournament with four runs scored, three RBI a triple and a home run.

Trailing 5-3 headed into the last of the seventh, Streilein led off with a hard single right field. After Keene State senior pitcher Ashlee Nicholson (Swanzey, N.H.) got a strikeout, Brandeis senior Natalie Volpe (Southington, Conn.) coaxed a walk. Rookie 3B Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass.) then lofted a ball to left field that was dropped for an error, allowing Streilein to score. Sophomore Allie Mussen (Franklin Square, N.Y.) followed with a bloop to center field that fell in between three KSC fielders to load the bases. That brought up sophomore SS Chelsea Korp (Worcester, Mass.), who lined a hard shot off the third baseman's glove that rolled down the left field line to plate the game-tying and game-winning runs.

With the game tied at 3-3 after three innings, Keene State had taken their two-run lead thanks to junior 3B Jenna Patnode (Surrey, N.H.), who doubled in the fourth inning, stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly by senior Jess Starkey (Keene., N.H.), and senior SS Coleen Ferguson (Sussex, N.J.), who singled and scored four batters later on a wild pitch.

Ferguson had opened the scoring in the top of the first with an RBI single, but Brandeis answered in the bottom of the frame with rookie 2B Melisa Cagar's (Ridgewood, N.J.) fourth home run of the season of the top of the fence in centerfield, followed Volpe's squeeze bunt. Owl junior Katie Allenson (Clifton Park, N.Y.) put the visitors back on top in the third with a two-run home run, her third round-tripper of the tournament and ninth of the season, but Volpe responded with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning.

Streilein pitched two innings of one-hit ball in relief, to earn the win finishing the season with a 22-3 record. Volpe gave up eight hits and five runs (all earned) in five innings. She struck out four and walked five. Nicholson suffered the loss, falling to 17-8 on the season. She fanned three, but walked one and allowed four hits. Rookie Jessie Williams (Jaffrey, N.H.) performed well in relief of starter Jess Starkey, allowing just two hits and one run in four innings of work.

With the win, Brandeis finishes the season at 38-9-1, the winningest season in Brandeis athletics history. They claim their first-ever ECAC softball crown, giving the Judges three ECAC titles in 2007-08. They won the volleyball and women's soccer tournaments in the fall.