March 12, 2014

Softball comebacks thwarted on Day Two of UAA Tournament

ALTAMONTE SPRINGS, Fla. – On a day that didn't start until an hour after it was expected to end because of rain delays, the Brandeis University had one potential comeback spoiled in extra innings and another derailed when their opponents caught fire at the 2014 University Athletic Association tournament. The Judges erased a 6-2 deficit to force bonus play against the University of Rochester before falling to the Yellowjackets, 10-6, in eight innings. Against Emory, the ninth-ranked team in the NFCA Division III poll, Brandeis fell behind 7-2 but clawed to 7-6 before the Eagles exploded for seven more runs in the sixth inning to earn a 14-6 walkoff victory.

In the opener, Brandeis (7-3, 1-3 UAA) was victimized by three costly errors, as eight of Rochester's 10 runs were unearned. UR (4-2, 1-2 UAA) had the first batter of the game reach on a miscue and converted it into two first-inning runs. Senior Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee) atoned for her error with a two-run single in the bottom of the frame that tied the game at 2-all. The Yellowjackets put some space between the teams in the third, scoring four runs after a two-out error that plated one run and extended the inning. With two runners on UR catcher Alyssa Murillo delivered a blast to left field for her second home run of the season.

Brandeis did not go quietly, scoring single runs in four of the next five at-bats. Rookie SS Liana Moss (Agoura Hills, Calif./Agoura) stroked her third career home run, going to left in the bottom of the third. Junior CF Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) drove in a run in the fourth and classmate and RF Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) knocked in a run in the fifth to cut the lead to 6-5. Genovese was the catalyst in the seventh inning when the Judges tied the score. With one out, she singled to left field and got all the way to third on a misplay by the outfielders. Sophomore Madison Gagnon (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake) drove Genovese home to force extra innings tied at six.

In the top of the eighth inning, with the international tiebreaker not yet in play, as the UAA follows NCAA tournament rules waiting until the ninth inning, UR's Eleni Wechsler and Tiffany White both singled to lead off the inning against junior Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St Josephs). Cote induced the first two outs of the frame on a bunt and a line-out, but coach Jessica Johnson's plan to intentionally walk UR senior Nina Korn backfired, when Brittany Grage single through the left side, producing three runs thanks to an outfield error. The 'Jackets  tacked on another run from Tayler Fravel, taking the lead to 10-6 which would be the final scored after Wechsler retired the side in four batters to preserve the win.

The hitting star of the game for Brandeis was Nolan, who went 2-4 with two RBI. Genovese had three hits and a run scored Genovese had three hits in four at-bats, scoring one run and driving in another. Gagnon was 2-4 with a double and two runs scored, while Moss's homer was her only hit of the game. Cote suffered the loss, going five innings in relief, allowing four runs – two earned – in five innings.

In the nightcap against ninth-ranked Emory (22-1, 2-1 UAA), Brandeis jumped on top against Brittany File, with sophomore 3B Madison Sullivan (Dover, N.H./Dover) singling with the bases loaded and two away. Rookie LF Madison Hunter (Parker, Colo./Legend) drew a bases-loaded walk, the Judges' third of the inning, to give them a 2-0 cushion. EU All-American Amanda Cardys came on and got the last out of the inning. Emory got their scoring started in the second inning on a Hannah Sendel RBI to left-center field, but Cote limited the damage in that frame.

EU looked to put the game away with three runs each in the second and third innings. Emory 2B Claire Bailey drove in two runs and scored another in the second, and an error and two-run double from Emory CF Cortney Sugihara in the third made it a 7-2 game.

Once again, the Judges clawed back, getting three runs in the top of the fourth, as Gagnon knocked in one run and Kamber added a two-run home run, her first of the season and fourth of her career. That made it 7-5, and sophomore 1B Jordan Buscetto (Old Lyme, Conn./Old Lyme) singled home a run with two out in the fifth to get Brandeis within one. Kardys averted further damage with two strikeouts, and the Eagles closed things out in the sixth by scoring seven runs on six hits and three Brandeis errors. Sendel added a three-run home run in the frame.

Brandeis had three multiple hitters in the second game, with Sullivan going 3-3 with an RBI and a run scored; Kamber with a 3-4 performance with her home run, two RBI and run scored; and Buscetto at 2-3 with an RBI and run. Cote suffered the loss by allowing six runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks in two innings of work to fall to 2-2 on the season.

Emory, which had 14 runs on 16 hits, was led by Sendel, who was perfect at the plate, going 3-3 with two walks, a double, a home run and four RBI. The Eagles had five extra-base hits to just one for the Judges. Kardys improved to 14-1 on the season with 5.1 innings of work, allowing four runs on nine hits. She struck out three and did not walk a batter.

Brandeis starts the second half of UAA play tomorrow with a single game against 3-0 Case Western Reserve at 12:30 p.m.