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Softball opens their season with warm weather play

Published: March 12, 2010
Section: Sports


The Brandeis softball team could hardly have asked for a better start to their season. In their first week of competition, the Judges have managed to compile a 5-1 record, and their 3-1 conference record leaves them well-positioned to contend for the University Athletic Association Championship.

Brandeis got off to a quick start in their season on March 7, scoring in the very first inning of their first game when Marianne Specker ’12 doubled home Melisa Cagar ’11. The game, held in Clermont, Florida against Rensellaer, seemed like smooth sailing until the bottom of the sevent inning, when Brandeis’ 3-0 lead was wiped out courtesy of two critical errors from the defense, sending the game into extra innings.

The Judges would reclaim the lead with two runs in the top of the eighth, but miscues doomed them again in the bottom of the frame when Emily Vaillette’s ’10 wild pitch helped Rensellaer tie the game again.  The teams traded single runs in the ninth. In the tenth, a wild pitch from Rensellaer’s Felicia Bua allowed Brandeis to score, and Caroline Miller ’12 pitched a perfect bottom half to give the Judges the 7-6 win.

Vaillette, who was charged with six runs but with only one earned, got the win for her nine-inning performance. Bua, who pitched 8 2/3, got the loss, and Miller got the save. Cagar scored three runs to lead the Judges’ offense.

Later that day, Brandeis faced off against Pitt, Brandford, and this time the outcome was never doubtfil. After two innings, Brandeis had a 6-3 lead off of eight hits, and the offense never stopped churning. The Judges ended up with a 10-4 victory in a sloppy game that featured a total of eight errors.

Caroline Miller continued her pitching performance from the previous game, throwing five innings and allowing only one earned run to add a win to her opening-day save. Jillian Kreitzer was charged with the loss. First year Stacy Berg introduced herself to the Brandeis faithful with four RBIs, and Brittany Grimm ’12 and Marianne Specker each contributed three hits.

Two days later, the UAA Tournament began, pitting the Judges against their conference foes for the first time. They started out against Emory, and the game was all about Eagles pitcher Jamie Melson.  She scattered four hits over seven innings, allowing only a single run and picking up the win. Emory plated three runs in the first two innings and coasted the rest of the way to a 3-1 win.

Vaillette was solid in defeat, matching her counterpart’s complete game and one earned run. Berg earned Brandeis’s sole tally with a home run in the bottom of the fourth.

Things looked bleak for the Judges as they headed into a critical game with seventh-ranked Washington University. Brandeis struck first when Melisa Cagar hit a two-run homer in the third inning, and pitcher Caroline Miller seemed to be coasting, giving up two hits and no runs in the first three innings. But three straight singles and a grand slam to lead off the fourth turned the tables immediately and drove Miller out of the game.

Brandeis, however, was not to be denied.  They scored four of their own in the top of the fifth, then three more in the sixth. The final score was 9-6 for the Judges, with Allie Mussen ’10 getting her first win of the year and the tireless Vaillette working two innings for the save. Voris threw a complete game in defeat. The top of the order proved to be fruitful for the Judges, with lead-off hitter Cagar and second batter Brittany Grimm combining for seven RBIs.

Brandeis brought both their bats and their arms in a big way to the next day’s games. Against Rochester, Grimm launched a two-run home run in the first inning before the YellowJackets could record their first out. Carly Schmand ’11 added a two-run double in the fourth, and the team put up three runs in the sixth to end the game at 8-0.

Vaillette pitched all six innings and allowed four hits while striking out six in the shutout, while Rochester’s Sara Hutchinson picked up the loss. The Judges got hits from eight slots in their lineup; Cagar led the team with three.

But the Rochester game was just a warm up, as Brandeis landed an even harsher blow against the Case Western Reserve Spartans. Already up 2-0, Berg slugged a two-run fourth inning blast, and the rout was on its way. Up 6-0 going into the sixth, Berg struck again with a two RBI double, and she was followed by run-scoring hits from Lara Hirschler ‘12, Keliann Kirby ‘13 and Samantha Gajewski ‘12. Meanwhile, the Brandeis pitching staff remained a stone wall, with three separate pitchers combining for a three-hit 11-0 shutout.

Mussen’s three innings of middle relief got her the win, while Andrasik pitched six innings and surrendered 14 hits and 10 earned runs to get the loss. Berg ended the game 3-4 with two runs and 5 RBI’s, and Brandeis sent 32 total batters to the plate.

For the year, Cagar is batting .500 with seven stolen bases on eight attempts, and Berg is leading the team with 11 RBI’s and three homers.  The team’s batting average is .348 while its opponents are being held to .218. Vaillette has thrown 24 innings and kept her ERA at an exceptional 0.58.

Brandeis was supposed to continue its season on Thursday with another contest against Emory, but rain forced postponement with no make-up day scheduled yet. Instead, the team will continue its march through the UAA Tournament with games against Washington and Rochester today and Case Western Reserve on Saturday; Brandeis is currently tied with Emory for the lead.

After the tournament, the Judges’ schedule continues with a home doubleheader against Wellesley.