ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – The Brandeis University softball team (7-1, 1-1 UAA) got a phenomenal performance from rookie pitcher Samantha Wroblewski (Delray Beach, Fla./Spanish River) today as the Judges knocked off 18th-ranked Washington University, 2-0, in 11 innings on the first day of action at the 2014 University Athletic Association championships. The win salvaged a split on the day for the Judges, who fell to Case Western Reserve, 13-1, in their first contest of the tournament.
Against Washington University (8-1, 1-1 UAA), the teams combined for 27 hits – 14 for the Judges, 13 for the Bears – but they were scoreless through the first 10 innings. Wroblewski and senior Kelsey Neal were each able to work out of jams throughout the game, and both teams' defense rescued them on several occasions.
The Judges had three hits in the first inning, but a double play bailed out Neal. WashU loaded the bases on a single and two walks with two away in the fourth, but Wroblewski induced a grounder to first to end the threat.
The Bears had two runners in scoring position with one out in the bottom of the fifth, but Wroblewski got a pop to short and a comebacker to the circle. In Brandeis's top of the sixth, they were in the same position with runners on second and third and one away, but WashU junior 3B Adrienne White made a fine play to cut down a runner at the plate on Brandeis sophomore Madison Sullivan's (Dover, N.H./Dover) suicide squeeze attempt. The Judges loaded the bases on a hit batter, but Neal struck out her opposite number to escape.
The Bears had two runners in the seventh, but two fly-ball outs followed, sending the game to extra innings. The UAA tournament uses the NCAA tournament rule with the international tiebreaker, so no runners were put on second until the 10th inning. Brandeis had hits in the eighth and ninth – including a double by junior All-America centerfielder Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) in the ninth – but were unable to convert. While WashU's Alyssa Wilson and Kenzie James each singled in the bottom of the ninth, but a grounder to short ended that threat.
With the international tiebreaker in place in the 10th, both teams were able to erase runs at the plate to preserve the scoreless tie. Brandeis had rookie Liana Moss (Agoura Hills, Calif./Agoura) on base to start, and junior 3B Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) reached on a bunt single and stole second to put two Judges in scoring position with none out. Neal rallied, getting two straight comebackers to the circle. She was able to hold the runners on the first and cut down Moss at the plate for the second. Neal escaped unharmed on a line drive to short.
In the bottom of the 10th, it was the Judges' turn. With White placed on second, WashU senior Maggie Ingell singled to shortstop. After Wroblewski fanned Neal, Bear senior Stacey Berg – who played at Brandeis as a freshman – stroked a single to right field, but sophomore Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.J./Delaware Valley) gunned White down at the plate. Wroblewski coaxed a harmless grounder to first with a runner at third to keep the game alive.
In the top of the 11th, Wroblewski helped her own cause. With Sullivan on second to start the frame, junior catcher Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) successfully bunted her to third. Wroblewski then drove a single to right field to finally break the deadlock. WashU got the second out of the inning on a pop to second, but an error on the next play proved costly, as Moss produced an RBI single to right-center field to give the Judges a two-run cushion. In the bottom of the frame, Wroblewski got two straight outs with the runner on second before Paige Biles singled for the Bears, but a harmless grounder to third base gave Brandeis the upset win.
Wroblewski was the star of the game, matching Caroline Miller '12 for the longest pitching outing for the Judges in the last decade with her complete game 11-inning shutout. Wroblewski struck out three and walked just one, managing to dance around 13 WashU hits as she limited the Bears to just singles. Her RBI single was her only hit in four at-bats. Four other Judges had multi-hit days, including a career-high four hits and the game's only double in six at bats for Genovese, while Moss, Kamber and Novotny each had two hits. The Judges also played error-free defense. The win snapped a six-game losing streak to the Bears dating to 2010.
For the Bears, Kenzie James went 4-5, while three other hitters had two hits each. Neal suffered her first loss of the season despite giving up just two unearned runs in 10.2 innings of work. She allowed all 14 Brandeis hits, striking out six while walking just one.
The story was different for the Judges earlier in the day, as they dropped a 13-1 decision to Case Western Reserve University (6-3, 1-0 UAA) in the UAA opener for both squads. Brandeis was limited to just six hits in the game, while surrendering 16 to the Spartans. Brandeis also gave up four walks and committed three errors. Wroblewski gave up two unearned runs, one in the first and one in the third, with Spartan DP Gena Roberts picking up two of her four RBI on a double and a sacrifice fly. Case 3B Erin Dreger doubled the lead in the fourth against senior reliever Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chafee) with a two-run double. Trailing 4-0, Brandeis got on the board in the bottom of the fifth on Genovese's RBI fielder's choice with runners on the corners, but Division III's leading bases stealer of 2013 was caught for the first time this season to end the inning.
Case added one run against Brandeis's Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St. Joseph's) in the sixth, but the Spartans blew the game open in the seventh, when they scored eight runs on seven hits, two walks and a hit batter.
Brandeis is back in action tomorrow at the UAA tournament, when the Judges take on Rochester at 10 a.m. and ninth-ranked Emory at 12:30 p.m.