The Brandeis softball team closed out the University Athletic Association (UAA) tournament in wild fashion, nearly letting an eight-run lead slip away before battling back for a 12-11 victory against Emory.
The Eagles, ranked No. 9 nationally, scored four runs in the fifth inning and five runs in the sixth to take a 11-10 lead. But a run in the sixth and a walk-off double in the seventh by sophomore right fielder Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.J./Delaware Valley) gave the Judges a 12-11 decision.
It was Brandeis' first win against the Eagles since the two sides' first-ever meeting in 1999, breaking up a 30-game win streak for Emory. The Eagles had not given up 10 or more runs in a game since February, 2010. The Judges are now 9-5 on the season, 3-5 in conference. Emory is 24-3, 4-3 in UAA play.
The Eagles scored seven runs in the first three innings during the teams' first meeting, but this time it was the Judges that stormed out of the gates. After Emory scored twice in the top of the first, Brandeis scored 10-unanswered runs over the first four innings.
Emory 1b Megan Light got the scoring started with a two-run home run in the first. The Judges pulled one back in the bottom of the inning. Junior center fielder Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) reached on a bunt single and promptly stole her 16th base of the season. Sophomore shortstop Madison Gagnon (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake) singled through the right side to drive Genovese home.
Senior 1b Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee) tied things in the second with a single. The next batter, rookie left fielder Madison Hunter (Parker, Colo./Legend High School), gave the Judges a 3-2 lead with an RBI groundout.
Brandeis blew the game open in the third and fourth innings. After runs on a walk and a wild pitch made it a 5-2 game, Genovese tripled home two more. Junior 2b Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline High School) doubled in a run in the fourth to stretch the lead to 8-2, and sophomore Madison Sullivan (Dover, N.H./Dover) hit a two-run bomb to stretch the lead to eight. It was the first home run of the season for Sullivan.
But the Eagles would battle back. After an intentional walk to load the bases, 2b Hannah Sendel hit a grand slam to cut the deficit in half. The Eagles scored on back-to-back doubles and an illegal pitch in the sixth before Sendel blasted her second of the day. This one was a three-run shot, and gave Emory an 11-10 lead.
The Judges showed resiliency, tying the game up in the bottom of the frame on a bases-loaded walk. Nolan came on to pitch a 1-2-3 seventh, setting things up for Novotny's winner.
Kamber reached on an error and stole second base to lead off the seventh before being lifted for rookie pinch runner Leah Shapiro (Beverly Hills, Calif./Beverly Hills). Novotny was next, and she lashed a double down the right field line for Brandeis' first walk-off win of the season.
It was the third time in as many days that Shapiro came on as a pinch runner, and the third time that she scored.
Nolan picked up the win, her first of the season. Emory's Amy Wray earned the loss and fell to 1-1.
Five different Judges had multiple hits, paced by Sullivan, who went 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs. Genovese and Gagnon each had two hits and two RBIs, and Nolan and Hunter each had a pair of hits as well. Sendel did the heavy lifting for Emory, finishing with seven RBIs.
Emory will close out UAA play with a game against Case Western this afternoon. The Judges will play a doubleheader at Clark next Saturday.