Softball splits with Bowdoin on Senior Day

WALTHAM, Mass. –  The Brandeis University softball team closed out its regular season today with a doubleheader split with visiting Bowdoin College. The Polar Bears rode rookie Melissa DellaTorre (Scarborough, Maine/Scarborough) to a 4-0 shutout in the opener, but the Judges answered with an 8-7 victory in the nightcap on a 12-hit attack that featured three different players with two RBI. The Judges close out the 2011 regular season with an 18-17 record, while Bowdoin is 21-18.

      In the opener, DellaTorre (8-4) held the Judges to just four hits, striking out nine and walking one. She held the Judges hitless the first time through the order, striking out six in a row at one point.

The Polar Bears got all the scoring they would need in the third inning when sophomore SS Toni DaCampo (Woburn, Mass./Woburn) launched her second home run of the season to center field, a three-run shot. Junior 3B Caroline Dewar (Katonah, N.Y./John Jay) added an RBI single in the fourth. DellaTorre took it from there, not allowing a Brandeis runner past second base.

Brandeis senior Carly Schmand (Bethesda, Md./Walt Whitman) led the Judges with two singles, a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt in the opener. Sophomore pitcher Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) fell to 8-4 on the season after giving up nine hits and four earned runs in a complete-game effort. She struck out seven and walked just one.

In the nightcap, the Judges wasted no time in getting to a new Bowdoin pitcher, as junior 2B Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) singled to lead off the game and scored on a hit to right field by senior 1B Courtney Kelley (Leicester, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.).

Bowdoin went ahead in the top of the second when sophomore 1B Gen Barlow (Norwich, Conn./Norwich Free Acad.) connected off Brandeis rookie Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee) for a two-run home run to left field. It was Barlow's team-leading fifth of the season. The Polar Bears extended their lead in the third without a hit, as junior CF Hilary Smyth (Hollis, N.H./Hollis-Brookline) walked, stole second and moved to third and scored on a pair of wild pitches to put the visitors up, 3-1.

The Judges got that run back in the bottom of the inning when they loaded the bases with none out, but could have done even more damage. Bowdoin sophomore Tricia Thibodeau (Cape Elizabeth, Maine/Cape Elizabeth) got the first two outs after packing the sacks, but junior CF Samantha Gajewski (Elkridge, Md./Long Reach) poked a ball into right field to plate Specker. Bowdoin took advantage of some indecisiveness on the base-paths to get the final out.

In the fourth inning, the Judges took the lead for good. Senior 3B Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) walked to lead off the frame. Two batters later, junior DP Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) launched a mammoth home run to center field to put Brandeis up, 4-3. It was Miller's second of the season.

The Judges looked to put the game out of reach with four runs in the fifth on an RBI double by Gajewski, a throwing error on a fielder's choice, and a two-run single by Specker that made the score 8-3. Nolan minimized a bases-loaded, no-out situation of her own in the sixth, getting a pop-up and a pick-off by catcher Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica) before Bowdoin's Tracy Shirey (Waterloo, Iowa/Waterloo West) slapped the ball the other way for an RBI. Nolan extinguished the threat with a called third strike.

In the seventh, the Polar Bears made it interesting with a two-run double by DeCampo and a sacrifice fly by Barlow that cut the lead to 8-7 with two outs. A single by rookie catcher Carey Correa (Stamford, Conn./Thomas) and a seeing-eye double by senior Molly Nestor (Duxbury, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) put runners on second and third, but Nolan got another called third strike to end the game.

Brandeis was paced by Specker, who went 3-for-4 with two RBI and run scored out of the lead-off spot, while Gajewski, Kelley and junior SS Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) each had two hits. Nolan evened her record at 9-9 on the season after giving up nine hits and seven runs (five earned) with eight strikeouts and five walks.

For Bowdoin, DaCampo went 2-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and two RBI, while Barlow was 2-for-3 with her blast and three RBI. Thibodeau suffered the loss with 3.1 innings of six-hit, four-run ball.

Today's games marked the final regular-season contests for seniors Kelley, Lavallee, Schmand and Melisa Cagar (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood), who missed the entire season due to injury, but made an appearance for the first pitch of the game.