WALTHAM, Mass. - The Brandeis University softball team needed extra innings in the second game of a doubleheader, but with aggressive base-running, they were able to earn a sweep of visiting Bowdoin College and extend their winning streak to five games. The Judges took the opener, 7-4, and won the nightcap, 5-4, in eight innings.
Brandeis (13-9) was able to make Bowdoin (13-10) pay for their mistakes to gain the two wins. In the two games, 11 of their 12 runs were unearned thanks to seven Bowdoin errors.
In the opener, the Judges jumped out to a 6-0 lead after four innings. In the second, rookie LF Lara Hirschler (Bellmore, N.Y./John F. Kennedy) beat out a bobbled ball at third base that prolonged an inning, allowing rookie DP Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) and sophomore 2B Melisa Cagar (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) to drive in a pair of runs on singles.
In the fourth, the Judges plated four runs on just one hit, thanks to three walks by Polar Bear rookie Michelle Wells (Winterport, Maine/Hampden Acad.) to open the inning. A booted ball at shortstop on a ball hit by Cagar plated the third run of the contest, while a groundout by rookie RF Samantha Gajewski (Elkridge, Md./Long Reach) added another and a two-run double down the left field line by junior SS Chelsea Korp (Worcester, Mass./Holy Name) made the score 6-0, Brandeis.
Bowdoin finally broke through against Brandeis rookie Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) in the fifth with four unearned runs of their own. After two singles and pop-up to third base, Polar Bear junior 1B Lauren Coven (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) sent a ball back through the circle that Miller was unable to make a play on. A walk to junior SS Shavonne Lord (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) and a sacrifice fly by rookie DP Courtney Colantuno (Marblehead, Mass.) cut the lead to 6-2. Bowdoin junior C Clare Ronan (Jenkintown, Pa./William Penn) followed with a single up the middle to close the Polar Bears within two at 6-4, but Miller was able to induce a grounder to second to end the inning. The Judges tacked on another run in their half of the fifth when a throw to third on a double steal went into left field, allowing pinch runner Courtney Kelley (Leicester, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) to score, making the final score 7-4.
In the second game, the Judges opened the scoring the bottom of the second with their only earned run of the day, a solo home run by sophomore 3B Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.). The Polar Bears answered in top of the third. With runners on second and third with one out, senior DP Kaitee Daley (Canaan, Vt./Canaan Memorial) hit a swinging bunt that got through both the drawn-in infield and outfield for a two-run double. The three hits in the inning were the first in nine innings off of Brandeis junior pitcher Emily Vaillette (Milford, N.H./Milford).
Brandeis knotted the game at two in the bottom of the third on another double steal. After Cagar and Korp both singled with two away, another throw to third went awry, allowing the Judges to even the game at 2-2. Bowdoin quickly reclaimed the lead in the top of the fourth on a mammoth home run to right-center field by senior catcher Alison Coleman (Lewiston, Maine/Lewiston) that nearly hit a passing commuter-rail train. The solo shot was Coleman's second of the season.
In the fifth, the Judges scored without a ball leaving the infield. Rookie LF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) led off with a bunt single and was moved to second on a bunt and third on a tapper in front of the plate. The speedy Cagar then beat out a ball that was bobbled by the third baseman, allowing Porcaro to score the tying run. Miller, who came on in relief in the seventh, stranded runners on second and third, forcing extra innings.
The Polar Bears struck first in the top of the eighth, when Lord struck a solid one-out single to right field, plating Daley. Miller left Lord at first, however. In the bottom of the frame, Brandeis again scored without the ball leaving the infield. Sophomore CF Carly Schmand (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman), who was placed on second to start the frame, managed to sneak her hand underneath the tag as she stole third base. Cagar followed with a slow roller to the mound, advancing to second as Bowdoin left the bag uncovered when they held Schmand on third. Korp followed with a squeeze bunt as Schmand raced home, while Cagar never stopped as she rounded third and scored the game-winning run when the pitcher's throw was wild.
For the day, Brandeis was paced by Cagar, who was 4-7 with two RBI, three runs scored and two stolen bases. Korp finished going 3-8, including a double, three RBI and two steals. Bowdoin's big hitters were Daley, who went 4-8 with two RBI, two runs scored and a double, while Coleman was 3-3 with an RBI and two run in the second game. Ronan finished 3-7 with a triple and two RBI.
In the circle, Miller earned the win in both games for the Judges, improving to 7-2 on the season. She tossed nine innings in total, allowing 11 hits, five runs (none earned) and striking out three while walking just one. Wells suffered the loss in the opener, falling to 1-1 with 3.2 innings of four-hit ball. She allowed six runs (none earned) and struck out two, but walked five on the afternoon. Senior Karen Reni (Ashland, Mass./Ashland) suffered the loss in game two, with seven innings of six-hit ball. She gave up five runs (one earned) and struck out three without walking a batter.
Brandeis is next in action on Tuesday against Suffolk University at 4 p.m., while Bowdoin is scheduled to host Maine-Farmington tomorrow at 3:30 p.m.