Starters dominate as #21 softball sweeps Clark, 7-2 and 4-0

Starters dominate as #21 softball sweeps Clark, 7-2 and 4-0

WALTHAM, Mass. – Brandeis University starting pitchers Emily Vaillette (Milford, N.H./Milford) and Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) tossed a pair of gems today – each threw seven innings without allowing a run while striking out 10 - as the 21st-ranked Judge softball team swept the Clark University Cougars, 7-2 and 4-0, in a nonconference doubleheader. With the wins, Brandeis improves to 17-4-1 on the season, while Clark falls to 18-8.

In game one, Vaillette established a new career-high with her 10 strikeouts, surpassing her previous best of eight Ks in a game. She allowed just four hits and walked just one, throwing 124 pitches to improve to 8-3 on the season.

Vaillette only allowed one runner past second base, in the fifth inning, when she recorded four strikeouts. After her first of the frame, Clark rookie Kelly Schroder (Auburn, Mass./Auburn) swung and missed on strike three but reached when the ball went to the backstop. A single up the middle by senior 2B Lauren Blake (Oakland, Maine/Messalonskee) put two on, but Vaillette got her third K of the inning for the second out. Facing senior DP Melissa Traft (Milton, Mass./Milton), Vaillette threw a wild pitch on an 0-1 count to put both runners in scoring position, but she battled back to get Traft swinging on a 3-2 pitch to preserve the shutout.

Offensively in the opener, eight of game's nine runs scored on home runs. Brandeis junior 2B Melisa Cagar (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) took advantage an early wind to get things off on the right foot for the Judges, hitting Clark junior Sarah Carter's (Worcester, Mass./St. Peter Marian) 1-1 offering out to right-centerfield. One of three Cagar hits on the day, it was her second homer of the season and the 10th of her career. Senior SS Chelsea Korp (Worcester, Mass./ Holy Name) made the lead 3-0 in the second when she went deep to left on the first pitch she saw from Carter for her first of the season and seventh of her career.

In the fifth, Brandeis took advantage of two Clark errors to score four unearned runs, including a three-run bomb to deep center field by senior catcher Erin Ross (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan). It was Ross's first round-tripper of the campaign and seventh lifetime and gave the Judges a 7-0 lead.

The Cougars scored their only runs in the top of the seventh against Brandeis rookie reliever Keliann Kirby (Framingham, Mass./Marian). Rookie Kathryn Joseph (Dudley, Mass./Shepherd Hill)  hit a pinch-single to start the frame, and sophomore Maureen Coakley (Worcester, Mass./Holy Name) launched her first home run of the season on the first pitch she saw to get the Cougars on the board. Vaillette returned to the game and finished off the game. Brandeis improved to 6-0 when they hit two or more home runs and 9-1 with at least one circuit clout.

In the second contest, Miller proved to be Vaillette's equal when she had the second 10-K performance of her career. Miller allowed just six hits and went the distance, walking just one batter and improving to 5-1 on the season. She worked out trouble twice when the Cougars had runners in scoring position with less than two out.

In the top of the third inning, after a leadoff walk, a passed ball and a strikeout, Clark senior 1B Joanna Clark (Windham, Maine/Windham) singled through the hole at short to put runners on the corners. Miller responded by getting a grounder to second that allowed Cagar to tag the runner and throw to first for a double play.

The Judges responded in the bottom of the third. Korp (3-3, 2 R) led off with a double and Cagar singled to put runners on the corners with none out. Sophomore Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) singled to center to plate Korp and open the scoring. She and Cagar moved to second and third on an error in the outfield, allowing sophomore RF Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Pekiomen Valley) to drive in a run with a ground out one batter later.

Brandeis added two more in the bottom of the fourth on the fourth homer of the season and fifth of the career for sophomore CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) and an RBI double by Specker (2-4, 2 RBI, 2B).

Clark had its best opportunity to respond in the following half-inning. The Cougars loaded the bases with one out with three well-struck singles. Miller bore down, however, getting a come-backer to the circle that produced a force at the plate for the second out and a soft grounder to first to end the inning. Miller ended up retiring eight of the last nine hitters she faced to earn the win.  

Brandeis is next in action tomorrow at 1 p.m. when they travel to Brunwick, Maine, to take on Bowdoin College, while Clark is at cross-town rival WPI at the same time.