No. 3 Eastern Conn. takes two from softball, 6-3 and 9-0

Marianne Specker '12 (photo by Sportspix)

MANSFIELD, Conn. -- Facing their first road contests since March 24, the Brandeis University softball team suffered a pair of losses at the hands of the No. 3 team in Division III, the Eastern Connecticut State University Warriors. The Judges fell 6-3 in the opener and 9-0 in the nightcap to fall to 15-11 overall, while ECSU improves to 21-1 on their campaign.

In game one, the hosts took a 5-0 lead after three innings. Eastern Conn took advantage of wildness from starter Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) in the second inning, when they scored four runs on just one hit thanks to four walks and a hit batter. Rookie Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St. Joseph's) came on to retire the first two hitters she faced and get out of the inning. Cote went on to finish the game in her longest outing of the season, going 4.2 innings and allowing four hits and two more runs with four Ks and three walks. After ECSU 1B Kelly Patterson tripled in the third to make it a five-run lead, the Judges broke through in the top of the fourth.

Against All-American hurler Molly Rathbun, senior 1B Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) led off with a single and classmate CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) doubled, her seventh two-bagger of the season. Rookie 3B Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) plated Specker with a grounder to short, but Rathbun struck out the next two hitters to limit the damage. Rathbun got the run back with an RBI single in the bottom of the frame that made it 6-1.

In the top of the fifth, Brandeis took advantage of shaky play by the Warriors to plate two more runs, ECSU committed three errors in the frame, with Ducinski reaching on an error to lead off the inning and scoring after another error with senior Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) at the plate and two wild pitches. Specker knocked home Grimm for her 32nd RBI of the season, but Rathbun went on to retire the final seven Brandeis batters to end the game.

In game two, Brandeis managed just two hits against ECSU junior Kassondra Silva, who retired the first 11 Judges before Specker singled for her third hit of the day in the fourth inning. Senior LF Megan DeNubila (Princeton, Mass./Wachusett Regional) added a single for the Judges in the fifth inning, but it wasn't enough to offset a five-RBI performance by Rathbun as the designated player. She hit a sacrifice fly in the first inning, a two-run single in the Warriors' four-run second, and a two-run double in their final at-bat in the fourth inning. Brandeis senior Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) suffered the loss, falling to 8-5 on the season, while Silva improved to 6-0.

The Judges return to action on Sunday at noon at Bowdoin College.