April 4, 2013

Coach Jessica Johnson earns her 200th coaching victory, as Brandeis wins two against UMass Boston

WALTHAM, Mass.—Coach Jessica Johnson earned her 200th career coaching victory in the first half of a doubleheader, and the Brandeis softball team earned two non-conference victories today against the UMass Boston Beacons. The Judges won the first game 6-4 before holding on for a 5-3 victory in the nightcap. Brandeis is now 11-8 on the season, while UMass Boston falls to 5-15.

Brandeis scored the first six runs of the first contest, starting with a run in the top of the first inning. Sophomore center fielder Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn. / North Haven) started things off as she has for much of the year, singling to lead off the frame before stealing second and third. With two outs, sophomore catcher Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill. / Hinsdale South) singled her home. Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn. / Loomis Chaffee) led off the top of the second inning with her third home run of the season. Senior pitcher Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass. / Duxbury) then singled home Genovese, and rookie 2B Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.J. / Delaware Valley) doubled home Ducinski to stretch the lead to 4-0. Junior 3B Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass. / Billerica Memorial) led off the bottom of the fourth inning with her first home run of the season, and Novotny added another second RBI double later in the frame to round out the Brandeis scoring.

The Beacons battled back, and a 3-run home run from sophomore catcher Samantha Hemstock cut Brandeis' lead to 6-4. But sophomore pitcher Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn. / St. Joseph's) came on in relief of Ducinski and promptly shut UMass Boston down. Cote pitched 2 2/3 innings of shutout ball to earn her second save of the season.

Ducinski picked up the win, giving up four earned runs in 4 1/3 innings to move to 6-4 on the season. Genovese finished the game 3-for-3 with three runs scored and three stolen bases. After adding a steal in the second game, Genovese now has 29 on the season. Novotny was 2-for-4 with two RBIs, and Nolan and sophomore SS Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash. / Skyline High School) each added two hits of their own.

Nolan took the mound for the Judges in the second game and threw a complete game, giving up just three runs, two earned in seven innings to move to 2-2 on the season. The junior gave up six hits and struck out five.

As they did in the first game, the Judges struck early and then hung on for the win. Genovese reached on an error to lead off the first inning, stole second base, and scored on a Coleman double. Nolan then singled to drive in Coleman. The Judges added a run in the second on a Coleman sacrifice fly, and McWilliams doubled in a run in the third inning before scoring on a throwing error.

UMass Boston added two runs in the sixth inning, and threatened to tie the game in the final frame. But with the tying runs in scoring position, Brandeis came up with a huge defensive stop. Coleman threw down to first on a dropped strike three, and rookie 1B Jordan Buscetto (Old Lyme, Conn. / Old Lyme) promptly threw back home to gun down a UMass Boston runner trying to score from third, ending the game. Novotny, Nolan and Kamber all had two hits for the second game in a row. McWilliams finished 2-for-3 with two doubles.

Johnson is in her seventh year as head coach at Brandeis, and now has a career record of 201-145-3. She was named the 2010 University Athletic Association Coach of the Year after bringing the Judges to their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth, where they finished third at the New England regional. Johnson previously led the Judges to three straight ECAC Division III New England tournament berths, including a school-record 38 wins and an ECAC crown in 2008. Before coming to Brandeis, Johnson served as the head coach at Mount Ida College for two seasons. As an undergraduate at Wheaton College, she was a two-time All-American, and led the nation in home runs in 1997.

Brandeis is in action again tomorrow against Framingham State College. The first game of the doubleheader begins at 3 p.m.

—Jeffrey Boxer