WALTHAM, Mass. - The Brandeis University softball team earned a split with the Tufts University Jumbos, the No. 5 team in the nation according to the NFCA, spoiling the Jumbos' attempt at a perfect regular season today on Marcus Field. Tufts earned a win in the opener, 3-0, to run their winning streak to 35 games, but it came to a halt with a 2-1 Brandeis win in the nightcap.
In the first game, Tufts (35-1) scored their three runs on just two hits thanks to aggressive base-running. Senior CF Laura Chapman (Seattle, Wash./Bush School) led the way, going 1-2 with two stolen bases and two runs scored. Chapman opened the scoring in the first, as she walked and stole second. Two outs later, senior RF Maya Ripecky (Chicago, Ill./Northside) hit a ball up the middle that Brandeis junior SS Chelsea Korp (Worcester, Mass./Holy Name) knocked down. Ripecky beat the throw to first, while Chapman never stopped at third and beat the return throw home.
Brandeis's (23-15) best chance to knot the game came in the fifth inning, when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Tufts senior Lauren Gelmetti (Westfield, N.J./Westfield) got out of trouble with a called third strike. The Jumbos added two insurance runs in the sixth. Chapman again got things started, singling to third base and stealing second. Brandeis rookie Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) fanned Tufts senior 2B Danielle Lopez (Danvers, Mass./Danvers). Unfortunately for the hosts, a dropped third strike and an errant throw to first allowed Chapman to score and Lopez to get to third, coming home on a long fly ball to center field by junior 1B Christy Tinker (Woodbridge, Conn./Amity).
Gelmetti improved to 15-0 on the season with her eighth complete-game and fifth shutout of the campaign. She struck out five and walked just one. Miller fell to 11-5 with six innings of two-hit ball, allowing just one earned run. She fanned two and walked three.
In the nightcap, the Jumbos got out ahead once again. Senior 3B Samantha Kuhles (Somerville, N.J./Rutgers Prep) singled to centerfield with one out and stole second. Ripecky moved her over with a ground out to second, while Tinker got the RBI with a single to right.
After stranding two runners in the third inning, the Judges finally broke through in the fourth, taking advantage of the first two Tufts miscues of the day. After junior C Erin Ross (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) singled with one out, rookie RF Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) beat out a double play ball to extend the inning. Sophomore 3B Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) followed with a single to left and an errant throw back in to the infield allowed the runners to advance to second and third. A passed ball produced the game-tying run from Grimm. After a walk put runners on the corners, the next batter was sophomore 1B Courtney Kelley (Leicester, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.). Kelley sent a ball to deep center field. Chapman was able to get to the ball, but the collision with the fence knocked it loose, allowing the game-winning to score as Kelley wound up on second with a double.
Tufts got runners on base in each of the last three innings, but Brandeis junior Emily Vaillette (Milford, N.H./Milford) was able to dance around the trouble. Her defense helped out, as Ross erased an attempted stolen base in the sixth. Vaillette scattered seven hits in the win, striking out two and walking just one in her 14th complete game of the season. She improves to 10-8 on the season. Kelley was Brandeis's only multiple hitter, going 2-2 with her doubles, the only extra-base hit of the day.
For the Jumbos, sophomore Izzie Santone (Madison, Conn./Daniel Hand) suffered her first loss of the season, falling to 16-1 with two unearned runs. She struck out one and walked two. Kuhles and senior leftfielder Alison Drobiarz (Old Saybrook, Conn./Old Saybrook) each had two of the Jumbos' seven hits.
Brandeis wraps up the regular season with a twinbill against Emerson on Saturday at 11 a.m., while Tufts hosts the NESCAC tournament this weekend starting on Friday.
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