ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Brandeis University softball team wrapped up the 2016 University Athletic Association tournament with a 6-4 record (8-7 overall) and a second-place finish, tied with Washington University. Under first-year head coach Danielle DelPonte, the Judges had their highest finish at UAAs since finishing as runners-up in 2010, while their six wins matched the total of the 1995 squad for a school record. The Judges finished the tournament with a dramatic 4-3 win over NYU and an 8-4 victory over Case Western Reserve before dropping a 13-5 decision to undefeated conference champion Emory in the tournament's last game.
VS. NYU (4-3 win)
- In their second meeting of the tournament with the Violets, Brandeis fell behind, 2-0, after two innings.
- NYU's Molly Webber singled home a run in the first, and Marissa Bella did the same in the second.
- Brandeis got on the board in the third inning with their legs. Senior Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.Y./Delaware Valley) and junior Allison Hecht (Melville, N.Y. / Half Hollow Hills East) were on the corners with one out after Hecht was hit by a pitch, got bunted to second and Novotny singled. When Novotny stole second, the NYU catcher's throw sailed into center field, allowing Hecht to score.
- After NYU stranded a runner in the fourth, the Judges took the lead in the bottom of the frame on a two-run home run by junior SS Liana Moss (Agoura Hills, Calif. / Agoura).
- The blast was her first of the season and eighth of Moss's career, but first since 2014, when Moss was named the UAA Rookie of the Year. Moss played just seven games last season due to injury.
- The Violets left two more runners on base in the fifth, but they broke through for a tying run in the sixth. Allyson Schmus led off the inning with a single and an error on a bunt allowed pinch runner Oliva Mould to reach third.
- The Judges threw out batter Sage Schweiller trying to make it to second on the play, but the Violets' Cassi Parulis tied the game at 3-3 with a groundout to second.
- The Judges wasted no time getting the run back as senior 3B Madison Sullivan (Dover, N.H./Dover) led off the bottom of the sixth with a home run to left field.
- It was Sullivan's second game in a row with a bomb and was the 13th of her career.
- The Judges loaded the bases later in the sixth but couldn't push ahead any insurance.
- Sophomore Sadie-Rose Apfel (Stamford, Conn. / Westhill) allowed a one-out single in the seventh, but slammed the door with back-to-back strikeouts.
- Apfel improved to 3-1 on the season by scattering nine hits over the seven innings for her third complete game of the season.
- Apfel walked two and tied her career-high with four strikeouts.
VS. CASE WESTERN RESERVE (8-4 win)
- The Judges completed their season sweep of the Spartans thanks to a big second inning.
- Junior Madison Hunter (Parker, Colo./Legend) opened the scoring with an RBI single in the first inning.
- In their next at-bat, Brandeis played long ball twice. The Judges loaded the bases with one down and rookie catcher Keri Lehtonen (Oneco, Conn./Plainfield) unloaded them with one swing of the bat.
- The grand slam deflected off the leftfielder's glove and over the fence for Lehtonen's first career home run.
- Three batters later, Sullivan went yard for the third game in a row, a two-run shot.
- The homer was Sullivan's 14th of her career, moving her into a tie for seventh on the Judges' career list.
- Trailing 7-0, Case got three runs back in the third inning thanks to an Annie Wennerberg sac fly and a two-run home run by Grace Trichler.
- Brandeis's Jordan Buscetto (Old Lyme, Conn./Old Lyme) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to bring home the team's final run in the fourth inning.
- Trichler had an RBI double in the fourth to close the scoring.
- Brandeis junior Melissa Soleimani (Somerset, Mass./Somerset Berkeley) went the distance to improve to 3-4 on the season. She gave up eight hits and four runs (three earned).
- It was her fourth complete game of the season and second of the tournament.
VS. EMORY (13-5 loss)
- The fourth-ranked Eagles completed a 10-0 run through the UAA, winning the conference title by four games over the Judges and Washington University.
- Emory scored 13 runs on 19 hits, nine of which went for extra bases.
- The Eagles led 8-1 after three innings and tacked on another run in the top of the sixth.
- Hunter drove in Brandeis's first run with a single in the first inning.
- The Judges staved off the eight-run rule in the bottom of the sixth with four runs.
- With one out, senior Madison Gagnon (Westlake Village, Calif. / Westlake) and sophomore Amanda Shore (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) singled to put runners on first and second.
- Moss followed with a single to right that was misplayed in the outfield, allowing both runners to score and Moss to get to third.
- The Judges drew a pair of walks to load the bases, and Sullivan followed with a two-run double. Emory escaped further damage by throwing out the runner trying to score all the way from first.
- The double was Sullivan's eighth of the season and UAA-leading seventh of the tournament. She needs just one more two-bagger to match her career-high.
- EU got all four runs back in the next half-inning, three coming on home runs within the first three batters.
INSIDE THE TOURNAMENT
- The Judges hit .321 in their 10 games, just a shade behind Washington University for the top batting average in the league.
- They also played fine defense, with 14 errors, second-fewest in the tournament.
- Novotny led the tournament with a .483 batting average and six stolen bases and tied with Sullivan for second with 14 hits.
- In addition to leading the league with seven doubles, Sullivan also finished third with 12 RBI and tied for third with three home runs. Her 30 total bases were second in the league.
- The Judges open the New England portion of their schedule next Saturday at noon against Clark University.