#21 softball sweeps CWRU, 4-1 and 3-2, to take UAA series

WALTHAM, Mass. – The 21st-ranked Brandeis University softball team erased a one-run deficit on three different occasions today as the Judges swept visiting Case Western Reserve University, 4-1 and 3-2, in a University Athletic Association doubleheader today. With the wins, the Judges continue their best start in program history and move to 18-1-1, 7-1 in the UAA. The Spartans fall to 16-10, 5-5 UAA.

In the first game, teams had runners in each of the first three innings, but CWRU struck first in the fourth. Rookie DP doubled to lead off the frame, and came home on a single up the middle by junior 3B Melissa Cuellar. Brandeis junior Scottie Todd (Tampa, Fla./Strawberry Crest) induced a pair of pops to third to limit the damage.

After managing just one hit through the first four innings against Spartan starter Ilissa Hamilton, who handed the Judges their first loss the Judges broke through in the fifth for all four of their runs. Brandeis tied it up with one swing of the bat, as senior Marissa DeLaurentis (Centereach, N.Y./St. John the Baptist Diocesan) homered to left field to lead off the inning. It was her first of the season and the ninth of her career. After Hamilton got the first out of the inning on a strikeout, senior catcher Keri Lehtonen (Oneco, Conn./Plainfield) reached on a dropped pop-up. Brandeis rookie 3B Marley Felder (Miami, Fla./American Heritage School) made the error costly with a double to left center, as Lehtonen scored all the way from first. Hamilton got a hard liner to right for the second out of the inning, but Todd blasted her UAA-leading fifth homer of the season to center give herself some insurance and a 4-1 lead.

CWRU would threaten in the final two innings, but Cuellar got thrown out trying to stretch a single in the sixth and sophomore LF Sydney Wagner was thrown out at home trying to score on a slow roller that was deflected in the seventh.

Todd earned the win in the circle to improve to 9-1 on the season. She threw seven innings for her eighth complete game of the season, striking out two and walking one, allowing just the one earned run on seven hits. It was the sixth time in eight starts that she has allowed just one earned run. Hamilton allowed just four hits in five innings of work. She struck out four and walked two and allowed four runs (two earned), falling to 8-4 on the season.

The game's only two multiple hitters were DeLaurentis and Cuellar, but four of Brandeis's five hits went for extra bases, including the two homers.

In game two, the Spartans and Judges had to manufacture their runs. Case took the lead in the second with a successful double steal that saw junior pinch runner Caitlin Smith cross the plate while classmate 1B Nicole Carty got in a rundown before sliding safe to second. Brandeis answered in the third, when DeLaurentis singled to left and moved to second on a walk. Lehtonen grounded to short to get the runners into scoring position, and DeLaurentis scored when she beat the throw home on Felder's grounder to second. The Spartans were able to avoid further damage by cutting down another runner at the plate from second base.

In the fifth, it was another successful double steal for the visitors, as sophomore center fielder Anna Cleaveland led off with a double and scored when she and pinch runner Anna Olivares pulled off the play after a Thomas single put runners on the corners. The Judges responded in the bottom of the sixth, as sophomore shortstop Jolie Fujita (Honolulu, Hawaii/Punahou School) and Todd delivered back-to-back singles. The Spartans got a strikeout, but a passed ball on strike three move the runners into scoring position, and sophomore center fielder Melissa Rothenberg (Lawrenceville, N.J./Lawrence) executed a squeeze bunt to first that knotted the game at 2-all.

Fujita made two tremendous defensive plays in the top of seventh to help retired the side in order. After the Judges loaded the bases on three-straight singles in the bottom of the frame, she blasted a 1-2 pitch deep enough to center field to allow sophomore right fielder Bridget Cifuni (Georgetown, Mass./Brooks School) to score easily from third for the walk-off win.

Brandeis rookie Sydney Goldman (Sherman Oaks, Calif./Notre Dame) earned the win in the circle, scattering six hits and allowing two runs (one earned). She struck out four and did not walk a batter to improve to 8-0 on the season. Sidney Brannam suffered the loss, giving up eight hits and three runs (two earned) in 6.1 innings of work. She fanned four and walked one to fall to 7-5.

Lehtonen and Todd for Brandeis and Carty for CWRU were the only multiple hitters in game two, with Cleavand's double the only extra-base hit.

Brandeis steps out of conference for 3 p.m. doubleheaders at Clark on Tuesday and at home against Worcester State on Wednesday before playing a four-game UAA set next Friday and Saturday at Carnegie Mellon.