WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University softball team reached the 20-win plateau for the eighth year in a row today as the Judges earned a split with visiting Clark University. After dropping the opener, 9-7, Brandeis rallied for a 3-2 win in the second contest to improve to 20-11 on the season. The Cougars end the day at 13-15.
In the opener, Clark scored four runs in the first inning against Brandeis senior Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury). The big hits in the frame were back-to-back doubles by sophomore Haley Buckheit (Camden, Maine/Camden Hills Regional) - a two-run job - and junior Shawna Amatucci (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury).
Brandeis scored their first run in the second on a ball dropped at first base that allowed sophomore SS Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) to score. Clark got the run back in the fourth, though the damage could have been worse. The Cougars loaded the bases with one out, but Ducinski got a grounder to third for the second out. Clark junior Tatiana Chunis (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame Acad.) singled to centerfield, plating one run, but Judge sophomore CF Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) gunned out a runner at the plate to leave it a 5-1 lead for the Cougars after three-and-a-half. The visitors tacked on a sixth run in the sixth inning on an RBI single by rookie Alyssa Wright (Manchester, N.H./Manchester West), kicking off some offensive fireworks.
In the home half of the sixth, Ducinski helped her own cause with a two-run double, while a Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.J./Delaware Valley) ground out cut the deficit to two at 6-4. Clark responded with three runs of their own in the top of the seventh, as six of the eight hitters reached safely, helped out by a dropped ball on a fielder's choice with the bases loaded. A timely double play helped the Judges avoid further damage, but it was 9-4 in favor of Clark.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Judges played long ball. Junior Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chafee) led off with a walk, but with one away, Brandeis sophomore catcher Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) and rookie RF Madison Sullivan (Dover, N.H./Dover) went back-to-back to get the Judges back within two runs at 9-7, but it was just a little bit too late, as Clark senior Nicole Meuse (Hudson, Mass./Hudson) hung on for the win. She improved to 8-7 on the season with the win, while Ducinski fell to 7-5. The first game featured nine multiple hitters as the squads combined for 27 hits.
In the nightcap, the Judges added another 12 hits to their ledger, but it wasn't until the bottom of the seventh that they were able complete the win. Clark opened the scoring again, with an RBI single from Wright opening the scoring.
The Judges responded in the bottom of the frame, as Genovese singled up the middle, stole second and scored on Novotny's team-leading 14th double of the season.
Brandeis took its first lead of the day in the bottom of the fifth, with Genovese again providing the spark. She reached on a bunt single this time, moved to second on a Novotny comebacker. Genovese stole third - her fifth of the day, 44th of the season and 66th of her career, moving her within six of Brandeis's career record for stolen bases. She scored on a Kamber single to right-center field.
The Cougars knotted the game in the top of the sixth without a hit. Senior CF Mel Melkonian (Worcester, Mass./St. Peter Marian) walked to lead off the inning and stole second. She moved to third on a groundout by Wright and scored on an error struck by Chunis.
Brandeis left the bases loaded in the sixth, but retired the side in the seventh as Nolan struck out two hitters and saw a third thrown out trying to steal. Nolan then led off the home half of the seventh with a ground ball up the middle. After Kamber bunter her to second, Sullivan singled up the middle to move Nolan to third. When Sullivan rounded first and drew a throw, it was bobbled by the first baseman, allowing Nolan to scamper home with the game-winning run.
Nolan improved to a team-best 8-2 on the season with a four-hitter, her sixth start allowing four hits or less this season. She struck out seven - her second-highest total of the season - and walked three. Buckheit suffered the loss to fall to 5-5 on the season after allowing 12 hits in 6.1 innings of work.
Offensively, Genovese went 2-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases, finishing the day going 5-9 with five thefts. Melkonian was Clark's big hitter, going 4-6 with a two runs scored, two RBI and two stolen bases.
Brandeis returns to action on Thursday with two games against Worcester State at 4 p.m. at home, while Clark still has a NEWMAC make-up date with MIT left on their schedule.
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