WALTHAM, Mass. – After a 60-minute rain delay led to nine combined runs scored in the first inning, the Brandeis University softball team dropped a 7-5 decision to visiting Worcester State University in the Judges' season finale.
The Lancers (17-16) struck for five runs in the top of the first inning on a single by DP Dakota Smith-Porter, followed two batters later by a grand slam from shortstop Kaci Panarelli. The home run was Panarelli's second of the season and gave WSU a 5-0 lead with just one away.
Brandeis (13-17) answered in the bottom of the frame with four runs of their own. Sophomore Keri Lehtonen (Oneco, Conn./Plainfield) led off with a solo home run to center field, her team-leading third of the season. With two on and two away, rookie 3B PJ Ross (Kingston, N.H./Sanborn Regional) delivered a two-run single to right, while junior CF Amanda Shore (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) cut Brandeis's deficit to 5-4 with another single. WSU got out of the inning by cutting down a Judge runner at third.
The Lancers added a run in the second inning on a hit batter, a double by 1B Sydney Despres and a run producing groundout by Smith-Porter. They made it 7-4 in the fifth inning on an RBI double from LF Monica Ferrazzani.
The Judges had runners in just about every inning, but were unable to capitalize until the bottom of the seventh. A single by pitcher Scottie Todd (Tampa, Fla./Strawberry Crest) and walk to senior Madi Hunter (Parker, Colo./Legend) put two on with one out. Ross delivered her third RBI of the game with a single up the middle, but the Lancers were able to cut down another runner on the base paths, allowing the visitors to escape with the 7-5 win.
Brandeis outhit Worcester State, 13-11, for the game, with four different players recording multiple hits. Lehtonen led the Judges with three hits, while Ross, Shore and sophomore Marissa DeLaurentis (Centereach, N.Y./St. John the Baptist Diocesan) collecting two safeties each. Ross had her second career three-RBI day. Todd went 6.1 innings and allowed eight hits and two earned runs with three strikeouts after Melissa Soleimani (Somerset, Mass./Somerset Berkley Regional) started and gave up five runs, suffering the loss.
For WSU, Carly Zielinski came on after the leadoff home run and finished the game, going seven innings and allowing 12 hits and four earned runs. She fanned four and walked one to improve to 3-0 on the season. Despres had three hits, including two doubles, while Panarelli's grand slam led to a 2-4, 4 RBI performance.
The delay to the start of the game prevented the teams from playing the second game of the scheduled doubleheader.