WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis softball team used a pair of fine pitching performances and just enough offense to end their two contests early today as the Judges swept visiting Suffolk, 8-0 and 9-1, on Marcus Field. The wins are the sixth and seventh in a row for the Judges, who improve to 12-8 on the season, while the Rams fall to 9-15.
In game one, the story was senior hurler Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton), who tossed Brandeis's first shutout of the season and the third of her career with a dominating performance. Of the 18 batters she faced, Miller struck out a career-high 12 of them, allowing just three Suffolk base runners. Miller fanned at least two in every inning, including striking out the side in the third and fourth. It was her second game with at least 10 Ks this season and the fourth of her career. Miller allowed just two hits, her season low, to improve to 6-4 on the campaign.
Offensively, the Judges were led by two other seniors, 1B Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn.) and CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury), who both went 3-for-3 at the plate, accounting for six of the Judges' nine hits and five of their seven RBI. Porcaro had three RBI and a three-run home run in the Judges' five-run second inning. It was her team-leading third round tripper of the season and the 11th of her career. Specker finished with two RBI and two runs scored.
Suffolk got a lead-off single by rookie RF Sarah Chasse (Salem, Mass./Salem) to open the game and a one-out single in the fifth by sophomore pitcher Samantha McGilvray (Brighton, Mass./Boston Latin), but those were the Rams' only two hits. Chasse also walked in the third inning. McGilvray allowed nine hits and eight runs (six earned) to suffer the loss. She falls to 0-2 on the season.
Suffolk looked to turn around their luck early in the second game, as Chasse again led of the contest with a single. For the second game in a row, rookie Nicole Rosa (Wallingford, Conn./Lyman Hall) laid down a bunt, but a throwing error on the pitcher allowed Casse to score all the way from first as the ball sailed down the right-field line. Brandeis escaped further damage with a double play after Rosa tried to score on a grounder to short, but Specker's relay home was in plenty of time.
The Rams threatened again in the top of the second, when rookie starting pitcher Alicia Gonnella (Bridgewater, N.J./Bridgewater-Raritan) led off with a double. On a McGilvray grounder to third, however, Brandeis was able to cut down the lead runner to keep their deficit to one run.
The Judges exploded for eight runs in the bottom of the third, when they were able to take advantage of five costly errors by the visitors. Brandeis had three extra-base hits in the frame, including an RBI double by senior SS Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley), a two-run home run by Specker, and an RBI double by sophomore 2B Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial). With her four RBI on the day, Specker now has a team-leading 27 for the season and 97 for her career. She needs three more to become the sixth player in Brandeis history with 100 career RBI.
Brandeis got the walk-off hit in the bottom of the fifth inning when senior RF Ali Theodore (Walpole, Mass./Walpole) dropped a single to center field that plated pinch-runner Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury). The hit made a winner of sophomore hurler Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee), who improved to 4-1 on the season. She allowed five hits – four coming in the first two innings – and one unearned runs. Nolan struck out six and walked two. Brandeis had four players with two hits each: Grimm, McWilliams, Theodore and rookie DP Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven).
For Suffolk, Chasse had two hits, while Gonnella's double was the Rams' only extra-base hit of the day. She suffered the loss in the circle, allowing nine hits and nine runs – only three of which were earned – while striking out two.
The Judges return to action Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. against Endicott College for a doubleheader, while Suffolk plays a single game against UMass Boston tomorrow at 4 p.m.