Specker reaches 100 RBI mark as softball splits with Wheaton

Marianne Specker '12 (photo by Sportspix)

WALTHAM, Mass. – In a non-conference softball doubleheader today, host Brandeis and visiting Wheaton College each picked up a win on Marcus Field. The Judges (15-9) extended their winning streak to 10 games in the opener by a 5-4 score, but the Lyons (15-15) rallied for a 6-3 victory in the nightcap. In the process, Brandeis senior 1B Marianne Specker (So. Windsor, Conn./Westminster School) drove in four runs and became the sixth player in school history with 100 career RBI.

In game one, the score was 2-1 after the first frame, as Wheaton got a pair of solo home runs from rookie Noelle Christmas (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth South) and junior Megan Roy (No. Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional), their third and second of the season, respectively. Brandeis senior SS Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) answered with her team-leading fifth blast of the season in the bottom of the inning.

Brandeis made the decisive inning the third, as the Judges batted around and scored four more runs. With one out, junior DP Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) manufactured the tying run all by herself. Ducinski singled to shortstop and moved to second as the Lyons were slow in getting the ball into the circle. As she danced off second with the next batter at the plate, Ducinski drew a throw that sailed into center field deep enough to allow her to score all the way from second.

After that, the next four Brandeis batters singled, with Specker recording career RBI numbers 98 and 99 to give the Judges a 4-2 lead. Senior pitcher Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) drove in the Judges' fourth run of the inning and made it 5-2.

Miller also held Wheaton at bay until the fifth inning, retiring nine in a row. After Aimee Avila (No. Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) led off the fifth with a single through the left side, Miller got the next two outs, but sophomore Jenna Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) singled to cut the deficit to 5-3. Christmas followed with a double down the left field line that allowed Rocha to score all the way from first, but Miller would strand her in scoring position. The Lyons put runners on base in the sixth and seventh, but couldn't advance them past second base as the Judges hung on for the win.

 

Miller improved to 8-4 on the season with seven innings of seven-hit ball. She struck out five and did not walk a batter. Wheaton's Allison Baker (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional) fell to 9-10 by giving up 10 hits and five earned runs. She fanned six and walked one.

Brandeis rookie RF Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) had three hits to lead the Judges, while Grimm went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI. Her home run was Brandeis's only extra-base hit of the game. Christmas (2-3, HR, 2B, 2 RBI) and Roy (2-3, HR, RBI) were the only multiple hitters for Wheaton.

In game two, Wheaton again jumped on top with a first-inning home run, with Rocha doing the honors on the third pitch of the game from Brandeis sophomore Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee School). Rocha went deep again in the third, this time a two-run blast that gave her seven on the season. The Lyons threatened again in the frame after Christmas reached when a dropped third strike was thrown away on the play at first. Brandeis got some fortunate bounces, however, as a bunt single attempt hit a batter for the first out of the inning, and, following another Roy double, a grounder to short saw Roy and Grimm collide, with the runner being called out for interference.

Brandeis's first big threat came in the bottom of the third, when they loaded the bases with one out, but rookie Emily Berardi (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin School) and the Lyon defense got a nice 5-2-3 double play to escape trouble. It looked like Wheaton might blow the game open with a similar bases-loaded, one-out situation in the top of the fourth, but Christmas topped the ball off the plate, allowing Brandeis catcher Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) to step on the dish and fire to first, where Christmas was called out for being in the basepath when the throw hit her in the back.

The Lyons had another chance to open up some distance in the fifth when Ashley Brillon (Attleboro, Mass./Bishop Feehan) walked to lead off and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Roy singled to put runners on the corners, Ducinski entered the circle in relief. Roy stole second, but Ducinski got a strike out, a sharp grounder to third and a pop up to keep it a three-run game.

The Judges got those three runs back in the bottom of the fifth. The rally started with one out on a solo home run by sophomore 2B Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial). The laser to left field was the first of her career. After a pair of bunt singles by Ducinski and Genovese, with a wild pitch and steal in the mix, the Judges had runners on second and third. Christmas came in to pitch from left field. She got a grounder to second for the second out, bring up Specker. The senior fouled off three two-strike pitches before singling through the right side, tying the game and reaching the 100-RBI plateau in the process. She leads the Judges with 30 RBI on the season, a career-high.

Wheaton bounced right back in the top of the sixth, however. After Drury walked with one out, Christmas lined a sharp single to center that reached the fence two batters later, but Brandeis senior CF Lauren Porcaro (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) did a nice job of getting the ball in quickly to hold the runner at third. Brillon answered with a two-run double to left that plated the game-winning runs, while Roy's second two-bagger of the game and 13th of the season pushed the lead back to three runs at 6-3.

Christmas stranded to Brandeis runners in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth and got the Judges in order in the seventh to earn her sixth win of the season. Ducinski's one tough inning dropped her to 2-3 on the campaign.

McWilliams (2-3, HR, 2B, RBI) and Genovese (2-4, R, SB) were the top offensive performers for Brandeis, while Roy (3-3, RBI, 2 2B) and Rocha (2-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI) led the Lyons' attack.

Brandeis is back in action tomorrow afternoon when they take on third-ranked Eastern Connecticut State University at 4 p.m. in a doubleheader in their first road games since March 24, while Wheaton is at WPI for a NEWMAC twinbill Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.