WALTHAM, Mass. – The 18th-ranked Brandeis University softball team, led by senior hurler Emily Vaillette's (Milford, N.H./Milford) three-hitter, defeated visiting Framingham State, 9-1, in the opener of their regular-season finale doubleheader today, but the Judges couldn't solve FSC sophomore Alysia Morrissette (Ware, Mass./Ware) in the second, falling by a 4-1 count.
In the opener, Vaillette improved to 15-4 on the season, by allowing just three hits and one unearned run in six innings of work. She struck out seven and did not walk a batter, hitting one. Vaillette lowered her school single-season record ERA to 1.49 and won her 38th career game, second on Brandeis's all-time list. It was her fifth start this season with three of fewer hits allowed.
Offensively, sophomore 1B Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) was the big hitter for the Judges, going 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs scored and three RBI. Specker drove in a run in the first inning with a single to left and added two more in the third inning with a home run to right field, the game's only extra-base hit.
Junior 2B Melissa Cagar (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) also went 2-for-3 with an RBI, two runs scored and three stolen bases, giving her 29 for the season. With the three steals, Cagar moved within three of her own single-season record and increased her career-record total to 71. Cagar's RBI single in the sixth inning provided the walk-off hit. Senior SS Chelsea Korp (Worcester, Mass./Holy Name) also had two hits, an RBI and a run scored in the contest.
In game two, FSC's Morrissette and Brandeis senior Allie Mussen (Franklin Square, N.Y./Carey) were locked in a pitcher's duel for six innings. The Rams got on the board in the first inning with an unearned run, as senior CF Megan Dumas (Holden, Mass./Wachusett Regional) reached on an error to lead off the game. She was erased on a fielder's choice, but rookie LF Kendra Fisher (Abington, Mass./Abington) stole second. After a walk, sophomore 1B Alyssa Shea (Lakeville, Mass./Apponequet) singled through the left side to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Mussen settled down and did not allow another Framingham State hit until the seventh inning, but the Judges had just as much trouble with Morrissette. Brandeis put two runners on with one out in the first inning when Specker walked and sophomore LF Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) singled, but Morrissette got a strikeout and a fly out to get out of trouble. She did not allow another until Grimm returned to the plate in the fourth and singled, but the Judges did not capitalize after Grimm was called out for leaving first too early.
Brandeis finally plated a run in the bottom of the fifth. Sophomore CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsabury, Mass./Shrewsbury) doubled to left field with one away. She moved to third on a slow tapper back to the mound by sophomore pinch hitter Lara Hirschler (Bellmore, N.Y./JFK) and scored on a wild pitch, knotting the game at 1-1. Korp followed with a single and steal of second, but could not get any further. The Judges put runners on the corners with one out in the sixth, but could not produce a run as Morrissette induced a pair of infield grounders to prevent further damage.
The Ram bats finally got to Mussen in the top of the seventh. With one away, sophomore 3B Krystina Smyth (Orleans, Mass./Nauset Regional) singled to right for the visitors' first hit since the first inning. Mussen followed with a strike out, but Dumas followed with a blooper that fell just inside the left-field foul line, putting runners on first and second. Fisher followed with an RBI double to right-center field to put FSC ahead, 2-1, and sophomore SS Christy Ulak (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth) followed with a two-run single to right that added some insurance.
Morrissette retired the side in order in the bottom of the frame to earn the win, improving to 6-12 on the season. She struck out four and walked just one, allowing six hits in seven innings. Mussen suffered her first loss of the season, falling to 4-1, after allowing five hits in seven innings, striking out four, walking three and hitting one batter. Grimm was the game's only multiple hitter, while Ulak had two RBI for the visitors.
Brandeis closes its regular season with a record of 27-7-1 and awaits word of a possible postseason berth when the NCAA tournament is announced on May 10. Framingham State moves to 16-20 and plays a MASCAC Tournament quarterfinal game Thursday at Worcester State at 4 p.m.
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