Cote one-hitter helps softball to split with Worcester State in home opener

Nikki Cote '15 (Photo by Volk)
Nikki Cote '15 (Photo by Volk)

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University softball team earned a split in their home opener on Marcus Field against Worcester State University. The visiting Lancers held off a late Brandeis rally to take the opener, 4-3. The Judges got a terrific pitching performance from senior Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St. Joseph's) in game two for a 2-0 win. Brandeis moves to 9-11 after the split, while WSU is now 12-4.

      In the opener, Worcester State got two big hits. In the third inning, rookie Samantha Rivers (Leicester, Mass./Leicester) blasted her first career home run to left field leading off the inning. In the sixth, with the game tied at 1-1, the Lancers loaded the bases on a single, a fielder's choice and two walks. Senior CF Taylor Hanley (Wilmington, Mass./Wilmington) then stroked a double to left-center field that cleared the bases and put the visitors ahead, 4-1.

      Brandeis had scored its first run in the fourth, when rookie CF Amanda Shore (San Jose, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) doubled with runners on the corners. Lancer starter Mary McKeown (Shrewsbury, Mass./Shrewsbury) got out of the inning without further damage, getting a strikeout, a popup and a grounder to first.

      The Judges rallied in the bottom of the seventh, but some terrific defense gave Worcester State the win. Junior 2B Madison Gagnon (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake) led off with a single, and sophomore LF Leah Shapiro (Beverly Hills, Calif./Beverly Hills) did the same two batters later. They moved into scoring position on a misplay on Shapiro's hit. Senior All-America SS Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) plated two runs with a single to right, cutting the deficit to one, then got into scoring position on a wild pitch.

      WSU got the second out when 3B Rachel Couto (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford) made an athletic leaping catch on a hard liner. With two down, Brandeis sophomore DP Allison Hecht (Melville, N.Y. / Half Hollow Hills East) singled to right field. Lancer junior Sara Pelletier (Leominster, Mass./Leominster) threw a strike from the outfield and catcher Samantha Orner (Oxford, Conn./Oxford) applied the tag on Kamber to end the game.

      Brandeis fell despite outhitting WSU, 9-5. Kamber went 3-4 with her two RBI, while senior catcher Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) also had two hits. No WSU player had multiple hits. McKeown outdueled Brandeis's Samantha Wroblewski (Delray Beach, Calif./Spanish River) in the circle for the win. McKeown improved to 2-0 as she struck out three and didn't walk a batter, though she did hit Hecht with a pitch twice. Wroblewski fell to 4-9 after allowing five hits, striking out six and walking three.

      In the second game, Cote was in command, allowing just one hit over seven innings for her ninth career complete game and third shutout. She faced just three batters over the minimum, with only a one-out double by Couto in the fourth inning keeping Cote from her first career no-hitter. Cote struck out six and walked three to improve to 2-0 on the season.

      Brandeis got all the scoring they would need in the bottom of the fourth inning with some small ball. Gagnon singled to left to open the inning and moved to second on a bunt by junior 1B Jordan Buscetto (Old Lyme, Conn./Old Lyme). Sophomore RF Madison Hunter (Parker, Colo. / Legend) singled to put runners on the corners, then stole second. Shore followed with a terrific bunt back to the circle, reaching safely and taking second as Buscetto beat the throw home. Shapiro followed with a grounder to second to plate an insurance run. The Judges rode Cote's coattails the rest of the way, as she retired the final 10 Lancer hitters.

      Brandeis is back in action on Tuesday with a doubleheader at Salve Regina, while Worcester State is at Fitchburg State the same day for a MASCAC twinbill.