WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University softball team got hits from nine different players, but the Judges were never quite able to overcome an early six-run deficit as the Judges fell to visiting Tufts, 10-5, in a steady rain on Marcus Field. With the loss, Brandeis falls to 19-14 on the season, while the Jumbos, ranked No. 9 in the nation in Division III, improve to 28-4.
The offensive star of the game for Tufts was sophomore catcher Jo Clair (Glastonbury, Conn./Glastonbury), who went 3-4 with three RBI and two runs scored. Clair's three-run home run in the top of the fourth opened up a 3-0 contest at that point. It was her seventh blast of the season.
Clair had just missed a round-tripper in her previous at-bat, driving the ball just under the top of the fence in right-center field for a long single. After senior 1B Lena Cantone (Southington, Conn./Southington) doubled to nearly the same spot on the fence, the Jumbos scored on back-to-back sacrifice flies that made the game 3-0 at the time.
Brandeis didn't go quietly, scoring one run in the bottom of the fourth, a run that helped to stave off an early defeat. After senior CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) singled to shortstop with one out, rookie 3B Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) singled to left. When the ball skidded under the left fielder's glove, Porcaro raced home from first to put the Judges on the board.
Tufts added two unearned runs in the top of the fifth, loading the bases on an error, a single and a walk with one out against relief pitcher Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee). After Nolan induced a pop-out to the catcher for the second out, she uncorked two wild pitches that allowed runs to score, making it 8-1 in favor of the visitors.
Brandeis got its first sustained threat against Tufts junior Rebecca DiBiase (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley) in the fifth. The Judges loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a single by senior SS Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley). Senior 1B Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) followed with a two-run double to left-center field. The two RBI for Specker give her 105 for her career, moving her into the school's top five on the career list. After a wild pitch plated Grimm and moved pinch runner Mimi Theodore (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) up a base, a stellar play in center field by Tufts' Lizzy Iuppa (Paramus, N.J./Paramus) helped keep it an 8-4 contest.
Tufts tacked on two more runs in the sixth, one on an error and another on an RBI single to left-center by sophomore SS Chrissie Massrey (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./St. Margaret's Episcopal School). The Judges loaded the bases with two out in the seventh, allowing senior LF Megan DeNubila (Princeton, Mass./Wachusett Regional) to drive in a run to make it 10-5, but DeBiase was able to leave the sacks packed to end the game.
In addition to Clair's big game, there were only two other multiple hitters in the game. Cantone was 2-for-4 with an RBI, a double and two runs scored for the Jumbos, while senior starting pitcher Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) was the only multiple hitter for Brandeis. Specker's two-run double was the Judges' only extra-base hit.
Miller suffered the loss for the Judges, allowing six hits and six earned runs in four innings of work. She struck out one and walked two, falling to 10-7 on the season. Nolan gave up four runs, only one of which was earned, in three innings, allowing four hits but also walking five. DiBiase improved to 10-2 on the campaign by scattering 10 hits over seven innings. She walked five and did not have a strikeout.
Brandeis plays its final two home games on Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. against Framingham State, while Tufts is at Rhode Island College for a pair on Thursday at 4 p.m.