May 10, 2009

Softball tops Plymouth State but falls to Keene State in ECAC finals

WALTHAM, Mass. - The Brandeis softball team was unable to defend their 2008 ECAC Division III New England tournament crown today. The Judges staved off elimination with a 6-4 win over Plymouth State University, but Keene State College took the crown with an 11-1 win in five innings.

Brandeis (28-17) reached the championship round by eliminating Plymouth State University, 6-4, in the day's first game. The Judges took a 1-0 lead in the second when rookie DP Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) hit her first career home run. The Panthers (24-18) took the lead on a two-run blast by sophomore RF Andrea Pydynkowski (Danvers, Mass./Danvers), her team-leading seventh of the season, in the top of the fourth.

The Judges answered with two of their own in the bottom of the fourth on a clutch two-out single to right by senior 3B Samantha Worth (Londonderry, N.H./Londonderry), plating pinch-runners Erin Thorn (Perkasie, Pa./Pennridge) and Carly Schmand (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman). PSU knotted it at 3-3 in their next at-bat when junior catcher Katie Labrie (Somersworth, N.H./Somersworth) singled, moved to third with some aggressive running on an infield out and scored on a Brandeis error.

Brandeis got the game-winning hit in the bottom of the fifth, when senior RF Victoria Roomet (Jamaica, N.Y./Francis Lewis) and Cagar both singled and moved to second and third on a wild pitch. Rookie RF Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) then singled to right-center, scoring both runs and giving Brandeis a 5-3 lead.

The Panthers threatened in the sixth. The first four PSU batters reached base, with senior DP Rachel Pothier (Reading, Mass./Reading Memorial) plating a run to trim the lead to 5-4. Senior 2B Heather Bartolo (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Acad.) loaded the bases with no out on a bunt single, but Brandeis junior starter Emily Vaillette (Milford, N.H./Milford) and reliever Allie Mussen (Franklin Square, N.Y./Carey) were able to wriggle out of trouble. Vaillette got a play at the plate on a grounder to second and a pop-up to short, while Plymouth State rookie LF Allie Luisi (No. Kingstown, R.I./No. Kingstown) took Mussen to a full count with a couple of foul balls before flying out center to end the threat. A Cagar RBI single in the sixth gave the Judges some breathing room, and Mussen struck out three batters in the seventh to earn the save.

Keene State (30-14) was led by senior centerfielder and leadoff hitter Jenna Patnode (Surry, N.H./Monadnock Regional), who earned tournament MVP honors after batting 8-for-15 (.533) in the tournament with six runs scored, two RBI and five stolen bases. The Owls avenged their 2008 ECAC title game loss thanks to a nine-run outburst in the second inning. The Owls had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when sophomore RF Ashley Annis (Gilford, N.H./Gilford) took advantage of a blustery wind to hit a solo home run to right-centerfield, but they blew the game open in their next at bat. KSC sent 14 hitters to the plate, with the first 10 reaching base safely. The big blows in the frame were a two-run double to right by Patnode, followed by a two-run single up the middle by Annis. Senior 3B Katie Allenson (Clifton Park, NY/Shenendahoa) added an RBI single to the mix, her team-leading fifth of the tournament.

Brandeis loaded the bases in the second with one out. Keene State got an infield grounder that they turned into an out at the plate before giving up their only run of the contest on a bases-loaded walk to sophomore 2B Melisa Cagar (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood).

Sophomore SS Katie Bradford (Lebanon, N.H./Lebanon) got the run back for Keene State in the top of the third on a single to right that plated Annis, who finished the day going 2-2 with three runs scored and three RBI to go with her home run. Rookie hurler Courtney Savoie (Stratham, N.H./Exeter) picked up her second win of the tournament and 13th of the campaign by scattering four hits in five innings, striking out two and walking three. The Owls also turned in excellent defense, making three spectacular catches in the fifth inning, including a diving stab by Annis at short and charging catch by Patnode to end the game.

BRANDEIS-PLYMOUTH STATE BOX SCORE

BRANDEIS-KEENE STATE BOX SCORE

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