WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University softball team swept visiting Salem State University in frigid conditions on Marcus Field today, 8-7 in eight innings in the opener and 14-1 in five frames in the second game. The Judges improve to 8-11 with the wins, while the Vikings fall to 6-8.
The opening game featured a dramatic comeback by the Judges, who trailed, 7-0, headed into the bottom of the sixth inning. Junior RF Maxie Hirschler (Bellmore, N.Y./J.F.K.) led off the sixth with a single, but Salem State junior Katelynn Fanning (East Boston, Mass./St. Mary's) got a strikeout for the first out of the inning. After senior 1B Courtney Kelley (Leicester, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) walked, Fanning fumbled a come-backer by junior RF Samantha Gajewski (Elkridge, Md./Long Reach), loading the bases.
Fanning got a called third strike on pitch that looked out of the strike zone on the next batter, but Brandeis junior CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) turned on a pitch and drove it over the right field fence for a grand slam, cutting the SSU lead to 7-4.
After Brandeis sophomore Casey Ducsinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) retired the side in order in the top of the seventh, the Judges' continued their dramatics in the bottom of the frame. Fanning got the first two outs on grounders, but hit Hirschler with a pitch for the second time in the game to extend the inning. Fanning then walked rookie catcher Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica), bringing up Kelley. The senior fouled off a number of pitches before driving the ball to nearly the same spot as Porcaro, tying the game at 7-7. Gajewski followed with a double, but was stranded at second, necessitating extra innings.
In the eighth, both teams had fine defensive plays to prevent a run. After the Vikings bunted courtesy pinch runner Ashley Aldred (Arlington, Mass./Arlington) from second to third for the first out, rookie DP Jeannette Doucette (Andover, Mass./Andover) grounded sharply to third base. Brandeis senior 3B Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) looked Aldred back to third before firing to first for the second out. Aldred tried to score anyway, but Kelley fired home in time to complete the double play, getting out of the inning unscathed.
In the bottom of the eighth, with Lavallee on second to start the frame, Fanning got a strike out for the first out. Junior SS Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) followed with a single to center field, but sophomore CF Sarra Bergeron (Methuen, Mass./Methuen) threw a strike home, cutting down the winning run for the second out. The Judges weren't done, though, as senior CF Carly Schmand (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) slapped a single, moving Grimm to third. After Schmand stole second, junior DP Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) singled up the middle to plate the winning run.
Salem State built their seven-run lead thanks to senior RF Taylor Orlando (Danvers, Mass./Danvers), who went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored out of the leadoff slot. Rookie Paige Flemming (Methuen, Mass./Methuen) and junior 2B Michelle Grifoni (Peabody, Mass./Peabody) also had two hits each, while Bergeron had a pair of RBI in the losing effort. The Vikings scored runs in four of the first six innings to take their lead, but were unable to push across an eighth run that might have ended the contest early.
Brandeis's offensive leaders were Grimm, Specker and Gajewski with two hits each, while Porcaro's four RBI on the grand slam and Kelley's three RBI on her blast led the way driving in runs.
In the circle, Ducinski tossed a complete game, going all eight innings with 10 hits, one walk and one strikeout to improve to 4-2. Fanning also gave up 10 hits in 7.2 innings of work, with four of her eight runs being unearned. She struck out seven but walked four and hit two batters to fall to 2-4 on the season.
The second game did not have any of the dramatics, but did feature more offensive fireworks from the Judges. After Hirschler knocked in a run in the bottom of the first to put Brandeis ahead, the hosts exploded for seven runs in the second inning. Rookie pitcher Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee) had a two-run home run to right field, the first of her career, and Kelley added her second of the day, another three-run job, this time to left.
The Judges added three more runs in the third on a Nolan solo home run, a single by Schmand and bases-loaded walk to Gajewski. Two more runs came home in the fourth as the Judges drew six walks in the frame.
Meanwhile, Nolan was outstanding in the circle as well, allowing one run and one hit, both coming in the fourth inning. With one out, Flemming walked, moved to third on Grifoni's double – SSU's only hit – and scored on a groundout by sophomore DP Sarah Brown (No. Attleboro, Mass./No. Attleboro). Nolan improved to 4-5 on the season with a five-inning complete game, striking out seven and walking four with just the one hit allowed. She also helped her cause by going 2-for-2 with a walk, two home runs, three runs scored and three RBI.
Brandeis returns to action on Wednesday, March 30 at Wellesley College at 3 p.m.