Brandeis softball tops Elms, 9-1, to advance to ECAC semifinals

The Judges mob Melissa Nolan '14 after a home run
The Judges mob Melissa Nolan '14 after a home run

WALTHAM, Mass. –The Brandeis University softball team topped Elms College (22-15) this afternoon, 9-1, in five innings in the quarterfinals of the Easter College Athletic Conference New England Division III Softball Tournament.  The Judges, 19-17, advance to the semifinals where they will take on the University of New England.

The Judges got off to a fast start, scoring five runs on three hits in the first inning.  With junior catcher Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) on third and senior Courtney Kelley (Leicester, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) on first, rookie DH/pitcher Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chafee) homered to centerfield for 3 RBI.  Then, with one on, junior RF Samantha Gajewski (Elkridge, Md./Long Reach) struck another blast to plate junior LF Maxie Hirschler (Bellmore, N.Y./John F. Kennedy), putting Brandeis up 5-0.

The Judges kept the Blazers scoreless over the next two innings, scoring another run in the bottom of the second off an RBI double from junior SS Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley), giving the Judges a 6-0 lead.

In the top of the fourth, Elms scored its only run.  Jessica Cockshaw (Palmer, Mass/Palmer) came into the game to pinch run for sophomore Rachel Butt (Agawam, Mass./Agawam) after she was walked by the pitcher.  Cockshaw stole second and advanced to scoring position.  Senior pitcher Destinee Meeker (Bantam, Conn./Litchfield) doubled to send Cockshaw home.

In the bottom of the fourth, with one out and two on, Kelley homered to left center field for 3 RBI, plating rookie Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) and Grimm, giving the Judges the  9-1 victory.

For the Judges, Kelley hit her fifth homerun of the season, while Nolan hit her third and Gajewski her second.  Sophomore Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) picked up the win in the circle, tossing three complete innings, allowing just one hit with two strikeouts, extending her record to 9-4.

For the Elms, Meeker had the only extra base hit with her RBI double.  Senior RF Alison McBride (East Providence, R.I./East Providence) had the Blazers' only other hit.  Meeker (12-8) picked up the loss in the circle, tossing three innings, giving up six runs on six hits.

The Judges advance to the semifinals of the ECAC tournament where they will take on the University of New England (28-17).  The game will be played at Keene State College  Saturday at noon.