COSTA MESA, Calif. – In the first two games of the 2016 season, the Brandeis University softball team earned a split for new head coach Danielle DelPonte against the No. 18 team in NAIA Division I, Vanguard University. The Judges won a nine-inning pitcher's duel, 3-2, in the opener, before falling, 9-3, in the nightcap.
GAME ONE – HOW IT HAPPENED
- Vanguard opened the scoring with an RBI double in the second inning by rookie Lindsey Gilmore.
- The Judges evened it up in the top of the fourth after senior 3B Madison Sullivan (Dover, N.H./Dover) reached on a one-out error and made it to third when a Lion outfielder overthrew a Sullivan went to second. Senior catcher Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.J. / Delaware Valley) bunted back to the pitcher, who threw home, but Sullivan slid in under the tag to even the score at 1-all.
- Every inning after that featured base-runners, but neither team was able to push across a run in regulation.
- In the top of the eighth, the Judges put runners on second and third with none out when junior Leah Shapiro (Beverly Hills, Calif. / Beverly Hills) was placed on second and reached safely when the VU pitcher tried to set her at third on rookie Keri Lehtonen's (Oneco, Conn. / Plainfield) bunt.
- After Lehtonen stole second, the host pitcher got a strikeout. Sullivan answered by launching a ball to left that produced a sacrifice fly that gave Brandeis a 2-1 lead.
- Vanguard got the run back in the bottom of the eighth on a two-out single to center by Kaitlin Estes.
- In the ninth, Novotny started the frame on second base, and though the VU hurler opened the inning with a strikeout, the ball was dropped and the catcher overthrew to first base, allowing Novotny to score and senior Madison Gagnon (Westlake Village, Calif. / Westlake) to reach second.
- The Judges were unable to tack on any insurance, but junior Melissa Soleimani (Somerset, Mass. / Somerset Berkley Regional) shut the door in the bottom of the inning on a bunt, a pop to center field and a liner to second.
GAME TWO – HOW IT HAPPENED
- The Judges wasted little time getting on the board in the second game, scoring two in the top of the first, though it could have been more.
- Lehtonen led off the game with a single and was forced out on a bunt by classmate LF Kira Wessels (Los Angeles, Calif. / Venice).
- Novotny and Sullivan followed with singles, but the Vanguard defense cut down Wessels tryng to score on Sullivan's hit.
- A third rookie in the lineup, CF Marissa DeLaurentis (Centereach, N.Y. / St.John the Baptist Diocesesan) drove in the two runs with a triple to right field.
- Brandeis sophomore Sadie-Rose Apfel (Stamford, Conn. / Westhill) retired the first six batters she faced, but the Lions sent seven hitters to the plate in the third to score three runs.
- VU broke things open in the fourth with five runs on three hits and three Brandeis errors.
- The Lions' Krysten Whitley opened the fifth with a home run for their final run.
- Brandeis added their final run in the top of the sixth when they loaded the bases with two outs. Rookie 2B Marysa Massoia (Feeding Hills, Mass. / Suffield Acad.) singled for her first career RBI, but the Judges left the sacks packed.
- In the circle, Soleimani tossed her first collegiate complete game, scattering nine hits over nine innings. She struck out two and walked one, allowing just one earned run.
- Apfel also went the distance for the first time in game two, allowing nine hits and nine runs, only four of which were earned. She struck out one and walked two.
- At the plate, DeLaurentis led the team, going 4-7 with 2 RBI and a triple. Her 2-4 performance in Game 1 was the Judges' only multi-hit game.
- Sullivan went 3-7 with two runs scored and an RBI. She saw a 15-game hitting streak snapped in the first game but bounced back to go 3-4 with a run scored in the second contest.
- Lehtonen was 3-8 with a stolen base.
- The Judges play a single game against Cal Lutheran University today at 1:30 PST/4:30 EST to wrap up their trip to California.