Softball splits twinbill with Simmons in home opener

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University softball team split with Simmons College today in their first home games of the season. The Judges won game one, 6-3, while the Sharks answered with a 9-3 victory in the nightcap.

Brandeis (6-7-1) six times in the early innings to jump out to an early lead. The Judges opened the scoring in the second with a double steal when sophomore Lauren Rashford came home as a throw went to second to try to catch her classmate Erin Ross. Three batters later, with runners on first and second, rookie 2B Melissa Cagar took Simmons junior Kelsey Hassick to centerfield for a three-run home run, the first of her collegiate career. Cagar finished the game as Brandeis's offensive star, going 3-4 with three RBI and a run scored.

Brandeis tacked on two more runs in the third. Senior pitcher Kaitlin Streilein singled up the middle with one out. When rookie 3B Danielle Lavallee doubled to left-center field, Streilein scored when a cut-off throw got away. Lavallee advanced to third on the play and scored the Judges' last run on a sacrifice fly by rookie 1B Courtney Kelley .

Streilein was in command over the first three innings, striking out eight of her nine batters in the early innings. Simmons broke up the shutout bid in the sixth on an RBI double to left-center by rookie 3B Danielle Szabo. The Sharks added two more in the seventh, taking advantage of two Brandeis errors to score two unearned runs. The big blow was a double to center field by rookie catcher Emily Nalband, who was 3-4 with two RBI and a run scored. She had half of the Sharks' six hits. Streilein improved to 3-3 on the season by striking out nine and walking just two, allowing three runs, only one earned.

Simmons (10-3) wasted no time in getting on the board in game two, as senior 1B Natalie West kicked off a big day with an RBI single to shortstop in the first inning. The Judges answered in the bottom of the second on a lead-off home run by Streilein on the first pitch of the inning by Shark sophomore Sammi Letizio. Brandeis put runners on first and third in the inning, but couldn't get a run home on a double-steal.

The Sharks answered in the top of the third as Szabo doubled home Nalband to snap the deadlock, followed by West's second homer of the season to center field. That drove Brandeis sophomore Emily Vaillette from the game. Streilein came in and settled down over the next three innings, but the Judges couldn't take advantage, leaving runners in scoring position in the third and fourth.

In the bottom of the sixth, Brandeis took advantage of sloppy fielding to score twice. They loaded the bases with one out on a hit and two errors, allowing Kelley to single up the middle to cut the lead to 4-2. Letizio struck out the next hitter, but a third error allowed Streilein to score before Letizio coaxed a pop to second to leave the bases loaded.

Simmons got to a tired Streilein in the top of the seventh. After getting the first out, Nalband singled up the middle, followed by a pair of walks. Szabo drove home the first insurance run, and West capped her 3-4, 7 RBI performance with her second home run of the day, a grand slam to dead center field. The Sharks also got a fine performance from Szabo, who as 3-4 with two RBI, two runs scored and a double. Leitizio improved to 6-0 on the campaign with a complete-game seven hitter, striking out seven and walking just one.