ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. — Despite trailing 8-1 after two innings of play, the Brandeis University softball team battled back to force extra innings, where they pulled out a 12-11, 10-inning victory over Case Western Reserve University on the third day of the University Athletic Association (UAA) tournament. The Judges, who went to extra innings for the third time in five UAA contests, improve to 8-3 overall, 2-3 in the UAA. Case suffered its first conference loss and falls to 9-4, 4-1 UAA.
After Brandeis got on the board in the first on senior Melissa Nolan's (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee) RBI double to left-center field, the Spartans answered with five in the bottom of the frame. Case RF Ashley Parello provided the big blow with a grand slam, her third home run of the tournament. They increased the lead with three more runs – two of which were unearned – on four hits, taking an 8-1 edge into the third.
The Judges quickly regrouped, getting a big chunk of the runs back in the third when sophomore Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.J./Delaware Valley) hit a grand slam of her own to knock CWRU starter Rebecca Taylor from the game. It was the first career home run for Novotny, making the score 8-5.
Case added single runs in the bottom of the third and fourth innings to go ahead, 10-5, but Brandeis rallied again in the top of the fifth. Rookie SS Liana Moss (Agoura Hills, Calif./Agoura) homered to left with one away, her fourth round-tripper of the season. One out later, sophomore 3B Madison Sullivan (Dover, N.H./Dover) doubled and senior 2B Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) singled. Sophomore catcher Jordan Buscetto (Old Lyme, Conn./Old Lyme) followed with an RBI double, and junior CF Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) followed with the team's fourth extra-base hit of the inning, a two-run double to right-center field, bringing the deficit to 10-9.
Brandeis rookie Melissa Soleimani (Somerset, Mass./Somerset Berkley Regional) retired the Spartans in order for the first time in the bottom of the fifth, giving the Judges a chance to tie the game. Case brought Rebecca Taylor back to the circle to start the sixth. With one out, after getting the first out, Taylor hit Nolan with a pitch. Another pop-up later, Novotny singled up the middle to move Nolan into scoring position. Pinch runner Nathasha Quiroz (Bronx, N.Y./IN-Tech Acad.) came in for Nolan, and when Sullivan singled to right, Quiroz scampered home to even the game at 10-10.
The tie was short-lived, however, as Parello struck again. Facing Judge rookie Samantha Wroblweski (Bronx, N.Y. / IN-Tech Acad.), Parello led off by belting her fourth home run in the last two games to right field, tying the UAA record for homers in a single tournament.
Not willing to go quietly, the Judges rallied again in the seventh. McWilliams led off with a bunt single. After a strikeout, Genovese bunted McWilliams into scoring position. Sophomore 2B Madison Gagnon (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake) then drew a walk to put two runners on with two out. Junior RF Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) grounded a ball to second, but it was booted, allowing McWilliams to score another tying run.
Case got another hit off Wroblewski with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Spartan Catcher Amy Taylor singled up the middle with one away, but Sullivan started a nifty 5-4-3 double play to get the Judges into their third extra-inning game of the UAA tournament.
Both teams went in order in the eighth and ninth, getting to the international tie-breaker rule in the top of the 10th. Brandeis benefited from having Genovese placed on second to start the frame, and she promptly stole third, her 15th swipe of the season. After Gagnon grounded to short too hard to get the run home, Kamber also hit an infield grounder and Genovese hesitated but slid around the tag at the plate for the go-ahead run. Brandeis was unable to add to the lead, but Wroblewski got a strikeout and two grounders to second to close out the game and earn the win.
In a game when the teams combined for 23 runs and 31 hits, including a UAA-record tying 10 for extra bases, it was Wroblewski's five innings of relief that made the difference. After Case pounded out 16 hits in the first five innings, she allowed just two hits over the last five, striking out three and walking one. The earned run she allowed on Parello's home run was her first since the Judges' first game of the season, a span of 20 innings. Wroblewski improved to 4-1 with the win, and lowered her ERA in UAA games to 0.33.
Offensively for the Judges, Novotny (2-5, HR, 4 RBI) and Genovese (2-5, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2B, SB) were the leaders, though six players had multiple hits, 10 different players scored runs, and seven drove them in.
Case's Rebecca Taylor started and finished the game, though three other relievers made an appearance. Taylor tossed six innings and allowed five hits, four runs (two earned), with two Ks and a walk. She falls to 2-3 on the season. Parello was the story of the day for the Spartans at the plate, going 3-5 with five RBI, three runs scored, two homers and a double. She finished the day, including a win over ninth-ranked Emory, with four homers and nine RBI.
The UAA tournament continues tomorrow for the Judges, when they take on #18 Washington University at 10 a.m. and Rochester at 12:30. Brandeis split with those teams earlier in the tournament, topping WashU, 2-0 in 11 innings but falling to UR, 10-6, in eight frames.