WELLESLEY, Mass. – The Brandeis softball team’s sensational 2010 season came to a close today as the Judges dropped a 4-1 decision in their rematch with the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in an NCAA tournament elimination game at Wellesley College. The Judges close out their season with a 29-9-1 record after advancing further than any team in school history.
Playing as the road team today, the Judges got top of the first inning off to a successful start. With one out, sophomore 1B Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) knocked a ball back through the middle for her team-leading fifth hit of the regional. In a scenario similar to Friday evening’s win over the Bears, Specker made a tour of the bases thanks to a trio of illegal pitches by Coast Guard sophomore pitcher Hayley Feindel (River Ridge, La.). Senior Erin Ross (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) drew a base-on-balls later in the frame, but the Judges could not do anything else with it, taking a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the frame.
Coast Guard (34-9) came right back in the bottom of the first, loading the bases on four-straight hits. Senior designated player Courtney Wolf (Fredericksburg, Md.) knotted the game with a single to right-center field, but Judge sophomore centerfielder Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) made a perfect cut-off throw to Specker. Specker fired a strike to Ross, who blocked the plate for the second out, and senior Emily Vaillette (Milford, N.H./Milford) got a strikeout to escape further damage.
Brandeis couldn’t muster any offense against Feindel in their next two at-bats, and Coast Guard struck for the winning runs in the bottom of the third. After a lead-off strikeout, USCGA followed with singles by junior catcher Amanda Frederick (Lebanon, Ohio) and rookie 3B Holli Bastinck (Wayne, N.J.). That brought up Wolf, who launched a 2-2 pitch to center field to give the Bears the 4-1 lead that would hold up until the end of the game.
After the blast, Brandeis head coach Jessica Johnson called on senior Allie Mussen (Franklin Square, N.Y./Carey). After allowing two more hits, Mussen settled in and got two strikeouts to hold the deficit at three runs. The Judges got two runners on base in the fourth when Ross singled to left with one out and sophomore DP Lara Hirschler (Bellmore, N.Y./JFK), making her tournament debut, sent one to right with two away, putting runners on first and second, but Feindel fanned Porcaro to neutralize the threat. Brandeis kept the deficit at three in the fourth on a line-drive double play turned by junior 2B Melisa Cagar (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) against Frederick
Brandeis had two-out threats in the fifth and sixth as well before coming up short. Cagar drew a walk and stole second – her 30th of the season - in the fifth, but was stranded after a grounder to second. In the sixth, Ross reached base for the third time in the game with a one-out walk. After junior 3B Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) flew out to right on her second hard-hit ball of the contest, Lara Hirschler singled through the hole to right, bring her twin sister Maxie up as a pinch hitter. Maxie’s liner to third glanced off the fielder’s glove, loading the bases, but Feindel coaxed a pop-up from the next batter to escape once again. Judge senior SS Chelsea Korp (Worcester, Mass./Holy Name) turned a 6-3 double play in the bottom of the sixth, but Brandeis couldn’t muster any offense in the top of the seventh.
With their season complete, the Brandeis class of 2010 of Chelsea Korp, Allie Mussen, Erin Ross and Emily Vaillette have compiled a school-record 118 victories, four post-season appearances (three ECAC, one NCAA), one ECAC title and the program’s first-ever national-ranking. Korp, who started 171 of a possible 172 games in her career, is Brandeis’s all-time leader in both categories and ranks second in career assists (318) and at-bats (514). Mussen owns 16 career wins and is tied for the school-lead with four saves. Ross is second in total chances (855) and putouts (739), whileVaillette graduates as the program’s career ERA leader (2.36), appearances (85), starts (67) and shutouts (10), second in wins (39) and innings pitched (406.0) and third in strikeouts (265).