April 29, 2012

Softball closes regular season with split at UMass Boston

BOSTON, Mass. -- The Brandeis softball team, led by senior Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley), who reached base in all nine plate appearances, and classmate Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton), who struck out nine in five innings of game one, settled for a split today at UMass Boston, as the Judges took the opener, 10-4, but the Beacons rallied with two out in the seventh for a 3-2 win the second game.

In the first contest, Miller was the story, as she retired the first 11 hitters she faced and 15 of 1 overall. Miller struck out seven of the first nine UMass Boston players. The Beacons' only hit against Miller was a bunt single in the fourth inning. After reliever Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St. Joseph's) let the hosts back in the game by allowing four runs in the fifth and sixth innings, Miller reentered and struck out two more in the seventh to close out the game. She improved to 13-7 on the season.

Offensively, Brandeis scored five unearned runs in the first three innings, with rookie 3B Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) picking up the only RBI in that stretch. Senior CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) drove in Grimm in the fourth inning to push the lead to 6-0. After the Beacons clawed their way back into the game in the fifth and sixth innings, the Judges added four insurance runs in the top of the seventh, highlighed by Grimm's two-run double, her 14th of the season. She finished 2-for-3 with a double and two walks, reaching on an error in one at-bat.

In  the second game, Brandeis again got on the board early. Grimm doubled again with one out in the first. Her 15th two-bagger of the season is the third-highest total in program history. Three batters later, Kamber singled to give the Judges the 1-0 lead. 

The Beacons got on the board in the third inning on an unearned run, as CF Natalia Bouyea reached on an error and stole second. She moved to third on a single by 1B Amanda Perry, and the two executed a double steal to knot the game. 

Brandeis went back ahead in the fifth inning, when senior Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) drove in her 39th run of the season, the No. 5 season in school history. The Judges had a golden opportunity to extend their lead in the top of the seventh, when Grimm singled and Specker doubled to open the inning. UMass Boston hurler Michelle Zullo escaped further damage, though, when she induced a grounder to third and left fielder Jaci Goodwin cut down Grimm as she attempted to tag up on Kamber's flyout.

The missed run proved costly, as the Beacons opened their half of the seventh with a runner reaching on an error. After they loaded the bases with two out, Perry singled home two runs to give UMB a walkoff win. She set a UMass Boston program record with her 37th RBI of the season.

Brandeis pitcher Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chafee) suffered the loss despite not allowing any earned runs. She threw 6.2 innings of four-hit ball, striking out three, but issuing three walks. Grimm finished going 3-4 with a double and a run scored, reaching on a fielder's choice in one plate appearance. Specker also had two hits, but Grimm closes the regular season with 180 hits to Specker's 178 for their careers, third and fourth on Brandeis's list, respectively. 

The Judges close their regular season at 23-16 and will await postseason possibilities, which are announced on May 7.