Softball suffers sweep at hands of WPI

Madison Hunter '17 (Photo by Laura Moss)
Madison Hunter '17 (Photo by Laura Moss)

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Despite the first collegiate home run from rookie outfielder Madison Hunter (Parker, Colo./Legend), the Brandeis University softball team could not overcome five round-trippers by visiting WPI today, as the Engineers swept the Judges, 8-4 and 20-0, in a non-conference softball doubleheader. The Judges fall to 14-12 with the losses, while the Engineers improve to 21-8.

The opening game saw both teams score on sacrifice flies in the first inning. Catcher Jules Fekete (Belgrade, Maine/Mesalonskee) opened the scoring for WPI, while her opposite number behind the plate Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) answered for Brandeis. Hunter then gave the Judges a 2-1 lead with a single to right field. 

WPI answered with the game's third sacrifice fly, coming in the third inning off the bat of 1B Katie Bumila (Raynham, Mass./Coyle and Cassidy). Shortstop Kristin Gallagher (Coventry, R.I./Coventry) followed with a single to right that gave the Engineers the lead for good.

The visitors added five insurance runs in the top of the sixth inning, when Fekete homered to right-center field to lead off the frame, her third of the season. Five batters later, with the bases loaded, rookie Hope Shevchuk (Burlington, Conn./Lewis S Mills) made her first collegiate homer a grand slam, pushing the Engineers lead to 8-2. 

The insurance runs proved key, as Brandeis scored twice in the bottom of the sixth. Coleman led off with a single, and scored on Hunter's first career blast, cutting the lead to 8-4. WPI rookie Caroline Medino (Pompton Lakes, N.J./Pompton Lakes) came on in relief after the home run, and retired six of the seven batters she faced to close out the game, including four by strikeout. 

WPI sophomore Clare Doolin (Newton, Mass./Newton South) earned the win after allowing four runs (two earned) in five innings of work. She gave up six hits, struck out three and walked one to improve to 12-4 on the season. Brandeis junior Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St. Joseph's) suffered the loss, falling to 3-7, after giving up six runs on five hits and three walks in five innings, Cote struck out three. 

After closing out the first game, WPI's Medino was equally in control in the second game. She allowed just one hit in five more innings of work, a single to right by Coleman after a foul ball of hers was nearly caught. Medino struck out four, walked one and hit a batter as she improved to 8-4 on the campaign.

Meanwhile, the Engineer offense produced a season-high 20 runs on 20 hits. They also took advantage of three Brandeis errors and two walks. The visitors hit three home runs in the game: A three-run shot by Bumila in the third inning, her first of the year; a two-run bomb from catcher Lindsay Gurksa (Revere, Mass./Revere) in the fourth; and Fekete's second of the day, a three-run job in the fifth to give her the team lead with four circuit clouts on the season. Senior CF Nicole McDonough (Abington, Mass./Cardinal Spellman) added a three-run triple in the fifth as the Engineers sent 13 hitters to the plate and scored nine times.

Brandeis returns to action Friday at UMass Boston for a 3:30 p.m. start. WPI is at MIT for a NEWMAC twinbill the same day at 3 p.m.