WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University softball team advanced to the championship round of the 2015 Eastern College Athletic Conference Division III New England Tournament tomorrow with a pair of convincing wins. The top-seeded Judges beat #4 Suffolk University, 10-5, in the first semifinal game, then handled #2 Southern Maine, 8-0, in five innings in the winner's bracket of the double-elimination tournament on their home field.
The Judges will play in the championship round tomorrow at 1 p.m. Southern Maine will face #3 Albertus Magnus in an elimination game at 11 a.m. The Huskies beat AMC, 4-1, in the semifinals, but the Falcons stayed alive with a 2-1 win over their conference rivals from Suffolk, 2-1, in the first elimination game of the weekend.
Brandeis (20-14) has now won 11 of their last 13 games and reached the 20-win plateau for the 10th-straight year. The Judges got outstanding pitching from senior Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St. Josephs), who started both contests and allowed just five hits and one unearned run in nine innings of work. She struck out 11 and walked just one across the two games.
GAME ONE: Brandeis 10, Suffolk 5
In the opener, Brandeis met Suffolk for the third-straight game, as the two teams played 10 days ago in Brandeis's regular-season finale. The Rams got the only run scored against Cote in the top of the first. With one out, sophomore SS Kristen Young (Windsor, Conn./Northwest Catholic) reached on an error, stole second and scored two batters later on a single to left by senior 3B Nicole Rosa (Wallingford, Conn./Lyman Hall).
Brandeis went ahead in the second when senior catcher Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) singled to second, but a pair of throwing errors allowed sophomore DP Allison Hecht (Melville, N.Y./Half Hollow Hills East) to score on the play. Two batters later, sophomore right fielder Madison Hunter (Parker, Colo./Legend) doubled to give the Judges the lead.
The Judges looked to put things away when they went ahead, 5-1, in the fourth. Six of the first seven hitters reached safely, though a batted ball struck Coleman on one of Brandeis's hits, producing an out. Sophomore LF Leah Shapiro (Beverly Hills, Calif./Beverly Hills) and senior SS Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) each produced RBI singles and junior 3B Madison Sullivan (Dover, N.H./Dover) walked with the bases loaded before a hard liner by Hecht ended the inning.
Brandeis sophomore Samantha Wroblewski (Delray Beach, Fla./Spanish River) came on to pitch the top of the fifth, and the Rams answered with four runs of their own, taking advantage of three Brandeis errors in the frame. Young delivered an RBI single and had her second steal of the game to put runners in scoring position. Rookie outfielder Devlin Frost (Tewskbury, Mass./Central Catholic) belted a double to center to cut the Suffolk deficit to 5-4. Another error put runners on the corners, and an errant pick-off throw to first allowed Frost to come home with the tying run.
The Judges responded by scoring four of their own runs in the bottom of the frame. Brandeis loaded the bases with two out on a hit batter, an error and a single by junior 2B Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.J./Delaware Valley). Shapiro delivered the game-winning hit, clubbing a base-clearing double to centerfield. She scored the final run of the frame on a Sullivan single off the first-baseman's glove.
The Judges strung together three singles in a row in the sixth inning to close out the scoring. After her tough first inning of work, Wroblewski allowed just one runner in the last two frames, with Coleman throwing out a runner trying to steal in the seventh. Wroblewski improved to 9-11 on the season with the win despite giving up four runs, only one of which was earned. Senior Sarah Casse (Salem, Mass./Salem) took the loss, although none of the nine runs she gave up were earned. She surrendered 11 hits and a walk in 4.2 innings to fall to 10-6.
Brandeis pounded out 16 hits, with all nine starters getting at least one and six different players having two. Shapiro led the way with four RBI, while Coleman had three hits to lead the Judges. Young was Suffolk's only multiple hitter, going 2-4. She was responsible for three of the Rams' five runs, scoring two and driving in one.
GAME TWO: Southern Maine 4, Albertus Magnus 1
USM's Amber Kelly (Berwick, Maine/Noble) won a pitcher's duel with AMC's Samantha Maselli (Rockville Center, N.Y./South Side), as the Huskies moved on to the winner's bracket. Kelly allowed just four hits in seven innings, striking out nine, besting Maselli's eight-hit, one-K performance over six frames.
Albertus Magnus 3B Gillian Fortier (Naugatuck, Conn./Naugatuck) led off the game with a home run to center field, but that was the extent of the Falcons' damage. USM tied the game in the second on an error. With runners on the corners and one out, Maselli induced a grounder to third. The runner broke for home, as did the throw. But as the catcher threw back to third base in the rundown, it sailed away, allowing Mary Caron (Lewiston, Maine/St. Dominic Acad.) to score.
The Huskies' go-ahead run was a no-doubt-about-it home run to straight-away center field by Kristen Duross (Saco, Maine/Thornton Acad.), who brought home Kelly, who had doubled to help her own cause. USM added an insurance run in the fourth, as Taylor Lux (Arundel, Maine/Thornton Acad.) doubled with one out and scored one out later on a Courtney Davis (Woburn, Mass./Woburn) single.
That was all Kelly needed, as she retired 12 of 14 hitters after the third inning, including striking out the side in the sixth.
GAME THREE: Albertus Magnus 2, Suffolk 1 (Suffolk Eliminated)
In the day's second pitcher's duel, AMC senior SS Carli Matrisian (Milford, Conn./Foran) proved both Falcon runs in support of Megan Ferraro (Branford, Conn./Branford), who danced around nine Suffolk hits to earn the win.
After the Rams scored a run on DP Morgan Parmeter's (Maynard, Mass./Assabet Valley Tech) bases-loaded single in the first, Ferraro got a strikeout and grounder to third to limit the damage. The Falcons tied it in the bottom of the second, when Matrisian doubled, and junior LF Alyssa Puccilli (Milford, Conn./Foran) did the same two batters later.
Both teams left runners on base in the third and fourth innings before AMC broke through in the fifth. The Falcons put runners on with a one-out walk and a single off the pitcher's glove. Matrisian then bounced one through the right side, allowing the winning run to come home.
Ferraro retired the side in order for the only time in the sixth, then worked around a hit batter and single by Parmeter in the seventh, ending the game on her fifth strikeout. Suffolk's Ali Yamakaitis (Avenel, N.J./Wardlaw-Hartridge) was the hard-luck loser after giving up seven hits in six innings and striking out eight while walking just two.
GAME FOUR: Brandeis 8, Southern Maine 0 (5 innings)
Cote was the story of the winner's bracket game, as she needed just 55 pitches – 42 of them strikes – to defeat Southern Maine. Cote got nearly half of her 15 outs by strikeout, fanning seven. She allowed just two hits and faced only one batter over the minimum.
In the USM third, after getting a strikeout to start the inning, Husky sophomore 3B Emily York (Belgrade, Maine/Messalonskee) took an 0-1 pitch and hammered it to center field, hitting just under the top of the fence. Brandeis rookie CF Amanda Shore (San Diego, Calif./Archbishop Mitty) fired a strike from the fence to second base, and York was thrown out going for the double. Southern Maine 2B Chantal Bisson (Lisbon, Maine/Lisbon), the next hitter, bounced one through the left side, but that was the visitors' final base-runner. Cote retired the last seven in a row to improve to 7-1 on the season.
Offensively, nearly all of Brandeis's runs were provided by Coleman in one way or another. In the first inning, her grounder to short with two runners in scoring position was misplayed, allowing both runs to score. Coleman blew things open in the third, when the first two hitters reached on singles and Hecht was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Coleman followed with a hard-hit ball to left. When the defender dived for the ball, it got past, allowing all three runs to score. Coleman then dashed home on Shore's single to second base to make it 6-0 Judges.
Brandeis put the game away with two sacrifice flies. One came from Coleman in the fourth, her fourth RBI of the game. Kamber gave the Judges the walk-off win in the fifth, as she finished the second game going 2-3 with three runs scored, a double and an RBI.
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