WALTHAM, Mass. – Behind the big bat of rookie catcher/designated player Stacy Berg (Owings Mills, Md./McDonough), the 20th-ranked Brandeis University softball team swept visiting Wheaton College, 9-1 and 11-4, to reach the 20-win plateau for the season. Berg reached base in all eight plate appearances in the twinbill, going 5-for-5 with three walks, two doubles, two home runs, six RBI and five runs scored.
The Judges reached 20 wins for the fifth-straight season and the seventh in program history. With a 20-5-1 record in 2010, it marks the fastest in program history that they have reached the plateau. Head coach Jessica Johnson earned the win against her alma mater (Class of 1997) and now owns a career record of 109-52-2 in the Brandeis dugout.
In the first contest, Wheaton (17-15) jumped on the board first against Brandeis senior Emily Vaillette (Milford, N.H./Milford). Sophomore CF Amanda Poplaski (North Reading, Mass./North Reading) led off the game with a line-drive to left field that was misplayed into a two-base error. Vaillette got the next two outs, but Lyon junior catcher Nicole DeRosa (Greenwich, Conn./Greenwich Acad.) launched a double to the right-field fence that gave the visitors a 1-0 edge.
The Judges answered in the bottom of the second when they sent 12 batters to the plate and scored seven runs. They had six hits and took advantage of three costly Wheaton errors. Brandeis loaded the bases with none out on a double by senior DP Erin Ross (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan), an error and a bunt single by sophomore CF Carly Schmand (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman).
The Judges claimed the lead for good on the next play, a pop to short that was dropped. The umpires called the infield-fly rule, but pinch-runner Casey Ducinsky (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) scored from third and drew an errant throw that allowed senior 3B Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) to score from second. Brandeis piled on later in the inning, including squeeze bunts from junior 2B Melisa Cagar (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) and sophomore LF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury and an RBI double by Berg.
Vaillette stayed out of trouble the rest of the way, finishing with just three hits allowed, striking out three and walking five. Vaillette's biggest trouble came in the top of the sixth, when she walked the bases loaded with one out, but got a tapper to third base for a force at home and a pop-up to short to stifle the threat. The complete game was her sixth of the season as she improved to 11-3 on the season. Vaillette now has 34 wins in her career, third all-time, one behind Lisa Root '97 for second.
The Judges walked off with the victory in the sixth, when Berg had her second double of the contest with one out, lacing a ball just inside the left-field line. Porcaro singled through the right side to put runners at the corners and stole second. Ross followed with another shot down the line in left, allowing both runners to score and close out the 9-1 victory. Sophomore Leslie Warn (Portland, Maine/Deering) suffered the loss for the Lyons to fall to 14-10 on the season.
In game two, Berg opened the scoring in the bottom of the first with a mammoth three-run home run to center field, her seventh of the season. Wheaton responded in the top of the second, though, as junior 3B Lindsey Hunt (Milford, Conn./Jonathan Law) went deep to right with a runner on, trimming the lead to 3-2.
Berg answered with a two-run bomb of her own in the third. It was Berg's second two-home run game of the season and her second with five RBI, giving her a team-leading eight round-trippers and 35 RBI. She needs just five more runs batted in to become just the fourth player in school history with 40 in a season.
The Lyons roared back again in the fourth, when junior 2B Marissa Hobocan (Shelton, Conn./St. Joseph) singled home two runners before getting gunned down trying to stretch a single, ending the threat with the visitors trailing, 5-4.
Brandeis broke away in the fifth with four runs on four hits, the big blow a two-run double by Ross. The Judges closed out the scoring in the sixth with another deep home run to center field, this time a two-run job by Cagar, her third of the campaign.
Brandeis sophomore Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) improved to 6-2 on the season with four innings of five-hit ball, striking out three and walking one. Senior Allie Mussen (Franklin Square, N.Y./Carey) faced the minimum number of batters over the final three innings, walking one in the sixth but inducing a double play, as she earned her second save of the season and the fourth of her career. Senior Andrea Bagley (Foxboro, Mass./Foxboro) suffered the loss for the Lyons, allowing nine runs (seven earned) in five innings. She struck out four and walked one, falling to 2-3 on the season.
Brandeis is next in action on Friday afternoon with a twinbill at Framingham State College at 3:30 p.m., while Wheaton hosts WPI in a NEWMAC clash at 3 p.m. the same day.