Softball rallies past Case, 9-6, but falls to WashU, 8-1

Brittany Grimm '12 (Photo by Sportspix)

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Brandeis University softball team went 1-1 on their second day of action at the 2011 University Athletic Association (UAA) tournament today. In their opener, the Judges defeated Case Western Reserve, 9-6, with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. In their second game of the day, Brandeis fell to Washington University, 8-1, mustering just four hits along the way. The Judges now stand at 3-3 overall, 2-1 in the UAA.

The Brandeis-Case game was a wild back-and-forth affair. The Judges fell behind, 3-0, in the top of the first, but scored six unanswered runs of their own to take a 6-3 lead after three innings. The Judges tallied five runs in the second as the first six hitter reached, including four on walks. The sixth run came home in the third, when junior CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) manufactured a run. She legged out an infield single to shortstop, stole second, moved third on a bunt by rookie catcher Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) and scored on a passed ball.

The Spartans didn't go quietly, however, scoring twice in the fifth, on an RBI double by pitcher/infielder Mackenzie Lein and an RBI single by 3B Kaeleen Boden, cutting the lead to 6-5. Case then knotted the game at 6-all in the sixth inning on a big two-out single by designated player Lauren Wolz off of Brandeis rookie reliever Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee).

The Judges rallied with three runs in the bottom of the sixth to take the win. McWilliams walked to open the frame, but was thrown out stealing. Junior SS Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) followed with a double to center and scored what proved to be the game-winning run on a Case error struck by Brandeis junior CF Carly Schmand (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman). Junior LF Maxie Hirshler (Bellmore, N.Y./J.F.K.) followed with a double, and two batters later, junior Marianne Specker (Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) produced a two-run single to right field to give the Judges some breathing room.

The Spartans threatened again in their last chance. They had a chance to load the bases with one out after a single, a walk and a single to second, but a heads-up defensive play by junior 2B Megan DeNubila (Princeton, Mass./Wachusett Reg.) caught a runner off of third base, allowing Nolan to hang on for the win.

Grimm was the game's top hitter, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, an RBI and a double. Specker's two-run single made her the only player with multiple RBI, while Porcaro was 1-for-2 with two runs scored and a stolen base. Nolan improved to 2-0 on the season with two innings of three-hit ball.

Brandeis's second game featured a battle of two teams who had been nationally-ranked in the preseason, and it was Washington University who came out on top, 8-1. The Bears scored three runs in both the first and third innings and added two more in the fourth. They ended up outhitting the Judges, 12-4, while also taking advantage of some early wildness by Judge sophomore pitcher Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury), who issued three walks, hit a batter and had three wild pitches.

Washington sophomore DP Alex Fjeldheim wielded the big bat in the game, contributing a two-run double in the Bears' three-run first and a two-run home run, her second of the season, in a three-run third inning. The first three hitters in the WashU lineup went 6-for-12 with four runs and two RBI.

Brandeis managed just four hits against Bear senior Claire Voris, who struck out nine. The Judges' lone run came in the third inning, when McWilliams walked to lead off the inning, moved to second on a ground out and scored on a single to centerfield by Specker. Senior 3B Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) had the team's only extra-base hit, a leadoff double in the second.

The Judges will be back in action on Saturday when they take on 10th-ranked Emory for the first time this season at 10 a.m. and a 12:30 contest against Rochester, who Brandeis defeated, 9-7, earlier in the tournament.