Eight-run sixth lifts softball past Rochester, 9-5, in UAA opener

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Brandeis softball team scored eight runs on just three hits in the top of the sixth inning today as the Judges picked up a 9-5 win over the University of Rochester in the University Athletic Association opener for both teams. Brandeis improves to 2-2, 1-0 UAA, while UR falls to 4-1, 0-1 UAA.

Trailing, 5-1, headed into the sixth, the Judges took advantage of Rochester wildness around the plate and with the glove to stage their big comeback. Brandeis loaded the bases with one out on a hit batter and two walks. Junior Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) drove in the first run of the frame with a grounder to short as senior 3B Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) beat the throw home. Junior 2B Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen) plated another run on an error at third base, making it 5-3.

Heads-up base-running trimmed the deficit again, as Grimm avoided a tag on junior CF Carly Schmand's (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) ball to second, and Schmand beat the throw to first. That set the stage for the game-winning hit, a two-run double through the left side by junior DP Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School). The Judges would add three more runs on RBI singles by Lavallee and junior Samantha Gajewski (Elk Ridge, Md./Long Reach), who then executed a double steal that made the score 9-5.

Rochester had jumped on top of the game in the second inning. After Brandeis sophomore Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) retired the first two batters on strike outs, the next three Yellowjackets reached on a hit batter and two singles. UR designated player Kara Baldino doubled in two runs, and the next hitter drew a walk, but Ducinski fanned 1B Nina Korn to retire the side.

The Judges got one run back in the top of the fifth, though the damage could have been worse. With a runner on first, Grimm had a one-out double, but the Rochester centerfielder gunned down Porcaro at the plate. Grimm came home two batters later on a Rochester error at third base, but the Judges couldn't convert with runners on the corners and two down.

Rochester looked to secure things in their half of the fifth, when Korn led off the frame with a home run. The Yellowjackets added two more, taking advantage of a single a pair of walks to load the bases with one out. CF Katie McLean singled to make the score 4-1, but Ducinski was able to trade a run for an out and then get a strikeout with two runners in scoring position to minimize the damage and set the stage for the Judges' comeback.

In scoring nine runs on just six hits, Schmand was the team's only multiple hitter, going 2-for-5 with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base. Specker's two-run double gave her the only multiple-RBI game and one of two Brandeis extra-base hits, along with Grimm's early two-bagger. Ducinski secured the win by tossing a complete-game nine hitter, striking out eight and walking five. All five runs she allowed were earned.

For UR, McLean was the day's top  hitter with three hits, while LF Cara Celoria was 2-for-3 with an RBI from the nine-hole in the lineup. Sarah Hutchinson suffered the loss for the 'Jackets, allowing eight runs (four earned) in 5.1 innings. She gave up just four hits, but did walk six Brandeis batters and hit another.

The Judges take on Case Western Reserve tomorrow at 10 a.m. and Washington University at 12:30 on the second day of UAA action.