March 15, 2013

Seventh innings key as softball falls to WashU, tops Rochester

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – Seventh-inning heroics were order of the day in a pair of Brandeis University softball games at the University Athletic Association (UAA) tournament in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Brandeis ended the day with a win in their second contest, as senior hurler Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) tossed a one-hitter as the Judges scored the game's lone run in the seventh inning for a 1-0 win. Earlier in the day, the 24th-ranked Washington University Bears scored seven times in their final at-bat to overcome a three-run deficit and pick up an 11-7 victory. Brandeis ended the day with a 6-6 record, 2-5 in the UAA. WashU was 17-3, 5-1 UAA, while UR was 0-10, 0-6 UAA.

Ducinski was masterful against Rochester, allowing just one second-inning single to the Yellowjackets. That frame was the most troublesome for Ducinski, as she issued two walks and the hit to load the bases with nobody out. She escaped by inducing a grounder to short that resulted in a force at home, followed by a UR runner leaving her base early for the second out. A pop to short kept the game scoreless, and Ducinski allowed just one base-runner the rest of the way, improving to 2-1.  She finished with three walks and three strikeouts in her 15th career complete game.

The Judges scored the game's only run in the top of the seventh. Rookie 2B Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.J./Delaware Valley) led off the frame with a bunt single. She was bunted to second by sophomore catcher Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South). That brought up junior 1B Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chafee), whose ball to shortstop was booted, allowing Novotny to score from second.

The game's lone multiple hitter was Brandeis sophomore Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) who went 3-3 with two stolen bases.

In the opening game, the Judges lost a heartbreaker, as they led 24th-ranked Washington for most of the game before the Bears scored seven times in their final at-bat. WashU hit a UAA record five home runs in the game, including three from catcher Stacey Berg.

Washington took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second when left fielder Sandra Polonsky and Berg took Ducinski deep back-to-back to lead off the inning.

Brandeis got the runs back and then some in the bottom of the second. With the bases loaded and one out, WashU starter Amanda Kalupa got a force at home for the second out, but Genovese followed with a bases-clearing double to give the Judges a 3-2 lead. She stole third and scored on a single by rookie SS Madison Gagnon (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake).

Washington closed to within 4-3 in the fourth on Berg's second blast of the game, but Genovese drove in her fourth two-out run of the game in the fifth to push the lead back to two. Washington closed in again in the sixth with a pinch single by Sydney Caldwell, but an RBI single by sophomore pitcher Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St. Joseph's) that also resulted in a run-producing error gave Brandeis a 7-4 lead headed into the final inning.

Cote got the first out of the frame, but WashU followed with four consecutive hits. Kelsey Neal cut into the lead a two-run homer, giving her a UAA-leading 12 RBI for the tournament, while Berg followed three batters later with what proved to be the game-winning hit, her third blast of the game and first with runners on base. The Bears tacked on three more runs against Nolan.

While the Judges got the first two runners on in their half of the seventh, as Genovese singled and stole second and Gagnon walked, Washington's Annie Pitkin retired the next three batters to emerge with the win.

The teams combined for 30 hits in the contest. Genovese and Novotny had three each for the Judges, while Polonsky and Berg matched them for the Bears. That duo also scored three runs each. Genovese and Berg each had four RBI to lead all players. Genovese and Paige Biles each stole two bases for Brandeis and Washington, respectively. Genovese finished the day going 6-8 with four RBI and four stolen bases in the two games. With one game remaining in the UAA tournament, she has 12 stolen bases and can set a tournament record with two more against Case Western Reserve tomorrow.