May 8, 2013

Softball falls short in ECAC quarters against Worcester State, 6-4, in eight innings

WALTHAM, Mass. – In the opening round of the 2013 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England Tournament, visiting and seventh-seeded Worcester State University was down to its last strike before rallying to upset host and second-seeded Brandeis University, 6-4 in eight innings on Marcus Field today.

Brandeis jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings. As she has all season long, sophomore centerfielder Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) was the catalyst in the top of the first. She reached on a bunt single, stole second – her Division III-leading 57th of the season - moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a passed ball to open the scoring.

The Judges had a chance to blow the game open in the second, loading the bases with one out. Sophomore catcher Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) stroked a double to left, followed by a walk to rookie 3B Madison Sullivan (Dover, N.H./Dover) and a single up the middle by classmate 1B Jordan Buscetto (Old Lyme, Conn./Old Lyme). Junior 2B Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) then hit a rocket that ricocheted off the third baseman's glove, bringing home Coleman. Worcester State hurler Hannah Everson (Methuen, Mass./Methuen) got Genovese to ground to shortstop and senior Aimee Lamoureaux (E. Brookfield, Mass./David Prouty) fired home for the force out. Everson got a grounder to first to minimize the damage. Everson went on to retire 15 of the next 16 Judge hitters to keep her side in the game.

Brandeis starter Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chafee) was also in control over the first five innings, allowing just two base-runners. Lancer rookie 2B Hayley Terry (N. Dighton, Mass./Dighton Rehoboth) walked in the first and singled in the fourth, WSU's only hit until the sixth.

In the sixth, with one away, Worcester State senior 3B Kylene Pease (Ashland, Mass./Ashland) singled to left and took second on a bobble. She was bunted to second and scored on Terry's second hit of the game. Everson singled and took second on a throw to try to get Terry, but Genovese made a tremendous diving catch on WSU sophomore 1B Katie Roy (Worcester, Mass./Burncoat), diving to her left, to retire the side.

In the seventh, Worcester State scored an unearned run to force extra innings. Lamoureux reached on a booted ball at second base to lead off the inning. She stole second to get into scoring position, but Nolan got a pair of fly balls to get the Judges within one out of advancing. That brought up sophomore LF Katie Storro (Leominster, Mass./Leominster), who fell behind 1-2 before stroking a ball down the right-field line to tie the game at 2-2.

After Brandeis went in order in the seventh, Worcester State faced senior Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) in the eighth as rain started to fall. After a leadoff walk, the visitors strung together singled by three of the next four hitters. Terry and Everson each picked up RBI in the frame to make it 4-2 in favor of the visitors. With the bases still loaded, the rain picked up, and two straight pitches slipped out of Ducinski's hand and rolled to backstop, allowing WSU runs to score before time was called. Those runs proved costly.

After a 20-minute rain delay, Worcester State, with a runner on third, missed a squeeze attempt for the second out, and Ducinski got a strikeout to bring the Judges back to the plate.

Genovese led off the Brandeis eighth with McWilliams on second to start the inning. Worcester State pulled their outfield in to respect Genovese's slap-hit ability, and she knocked the ball over the left fielder's head for an RBI triple. Ducinski followed with an RBI single to third, making it a 6-4 game, but Everson settled down and got three straight groundouts to end the contest.

Brandeis, which ends the season with a 23-19 record, was paced by Genovese, who was 2-4 with two runs scored, a triple, an RBI and a stolen base. Nolan went seven innings and allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits, striking out three and walking one. Ducinski suffered the loss with four runs (three earned) in her lone inning of work.

Worcester State's Terry was the offensive star of the game, going 3-3 with a walk, two RBI and a run scored. Everson got the job done at the plate and in the circle. She was 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored as a batter and improved to 10-7 on the season with an eight-inning complete game, fanning three and walking one while allowing four runs. The two earned runs she gave up were just the 13th and 14th allowed in 124 innings this season. The Lancers' first postseason win since 2010 improves their record to 24-17.

In other ECAC Division III New England quarterfinals, #3 Keene State defeated #6 University of New England, 6-3, and #4 Western New England topped #5 Norwich, 1-0. Top-seeded Wheaton and No. 8 Becker were postponed until tomorrow. Keene State will now host the remainder of the tournament as Wheaton was unable to serve as host.