The Middlebury softball team posted a 4-2 week, including a 2-1 series win during a NESCAC West series at home over Amherst. The Panthers started the week with a 7-0 win over host Castleton State, followed by a 5-4 victory in eight innings during Wednesday’s nightcap. In the league series with the Jeffs, the Panthers lost on Friday by a narrow 3-2 score, but rebounded Saturday for a 5-4 win in the opener and an 11-3 triumph in the day’s second game. In Sunday’s makeup game against Williams that was originally scheduled to be played on April 4, the Ephs edged the Panthers, 3-2.
On Wednesday, rookie Allison Quigley (Wilmette, Ill.) was dominant for Middlebury in the opener, tossing 6.0 innings, while allowing four hits and striking out six to earn the victory. Junior Carlyn Vachow (St. Louis, Mo.) went 3-4 as the Panthers totaled nine base hits. Cassidy Tedeschi took the loss, going 3.0 innings with five earned runs allowed.
The Panthers jumped on Castleton State in the top of the first, scoring three times. Sophomore Siobhan O'Sullivan (Reading, Mass.) led off with a single and junior Kat Maehr (Sayville, N.Y.) followed with a two-run homer over the left field wall. Sophomore Sarah Freyre (Jackson, N.J.) followed that with a double and scored on a single by Vachow.
Two innings later, the Panthers added to their lead with four more runs. Vachow led off with a single and Quigley was hit by a pitch with one out. Sophomore Hye-Jin Kim (Princeton Junction, N.J.) drove in both runners with a triple to right center and Middlebury added two more unearned runs for the 7-0 advantage.
Katie Gagne came on in relief for Tedeschi and surrendered just one hit without giving up a run while striking out a batter. Castleton State couldn't capitalize as the Spartans left a pair of runners stranded in the fifth and again in the sixth.
Junior Neve Stearns (Granby, Conn.) sent the Spartans down in order in the seventh to give Middlebury the 7-0 win.
In the second game, Castleton State came out swinging with a run in the bottom of the first inning. Babcock singled through the left side with one down and advanced on a single by Brittany Brayman, who was later thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch to end the inning.
Two innings later, Kristi Lawless reached on an error and Babcock blasted a home run over the centerfield fence for the 3-0 lead.
The Panthers got a run back in the top of the fourth when sophomore Emma Hamilton (Darien, Conn.) sent a ball over the fence in left to cut the Spartan lead to 3-1. An inning later, Middlebury scored two and tied the game at 3-3 on a double down the line by sophomore Erin Giles (Scarborough, Maine).
Castleton State threatened in the bottom of the sixth when Chelsea Grady ripped a leadoff double. Kayla Wood came in to run and advanced to third on a bunt, before consecutive outs ended the threat.
Neither team could get anything going in the seventh, but the Panthers came back with a pair of tallies in the eighth. A fly-out advanced Giles to third and Kim ripped a line drive that went off the leg of Katie Gagne at first and into right field, scoring Giles for the 4-3 advantage. Middlebury added an RBI single up the middle by rookie Kati Daczkowski (Pittsburgh, Pa.) to plate Kim and make the score 5-3.
In the bottom of the frame, Babcock singled Daigle over to third and Brayman followed with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 5-4. Babcock moved to second on the play, but she was stranded as Stearns worked out of trouble to win the contest.
Stearns logged 6.0 innings in the circle for the Panthers with six strikeouts while allowing just four hits. Wood took the loss as she logged the final 4.0 innings, giving up five hits and one earned run while striking out two. Taylor Paquette started for Castleton State and went the opening 4.0 innings, surrendering six hits while allowing one run and striking out three.
Babcock went 3-4 in the second game, while Grady also added three hits and finished the day with a team-high four hits. Maehr led Middlebury with three hits and raised her batting average to .441, while Kim and rookie Taylor Gardner (Carlsbad, Calif.) both had multi-hit games.
During Friday’s setback to Amherst, the Panthers had the tying run on base in the sixth and seventh innings, but could not plate the runner on either occasion.
Amherst jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. Brianna Cook opened the frame with an infield single as Nicolette Miranda pushed her to second on a walk. A single to right by Caroline Sealander scored Cook, as Miranda raced to third base. Alena Sherwill followed with a towering sacrifice fly to left, allowing Miranda to jog home for the 2-0 advantage.
Middlebury got one run back in the third. After Maehr reached on an error with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Vachow knocked her in with a two-out RBI single down the right field line.
Amherst got a key insurance run during a two-out rally in the fifth inning. With a runner on first, Donna Leet singled. Ally Kido followed with a seeing-eye infield hit that was booted for an error that scored a run. The Jeffs later loaded the bases with a bunt single by Cook, but Quigley got out of the jam with a fly-out to left.
Trailing 3-1, Middlebury scored another run in the sixth, After a one-out double by Giles, she was put out on a 6-5-2-6 fielder's choice on a ball hit by Hamilton, but Hamilton smartly reached second during the run-down. Kim plated Hamilton with a two-out RBI single through the left side to make it a 3-2 game.
After Quigley sent the Jeffs down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, senior Christina Bicks (Ridgewood, N.J.) opened the bottom of the inning with a bunt single. A passed ball during O'Sullivan's at-bat got Bicks to second. O'Sullivan nearly ended the game in dramatic, walk-off fashion, but her 1-2 smash down the left field line went just a couple feet wide of the foul pole. Amherst's starting pitcher Jackie Buechler battled with O'Sullivan, as the lefty hurler tossed a number of pitches that O'Sullivan fouled off before striking out swinging. After a fly-out to right, Buechler got her seventh strike out to end the game.
Seelander, Cook and Kido had two singles apiece for Amherst. Buechler went the distance for the win, allowing one earned run over seven innings and struck out seven.
Kim finished 2-3 from the dish, including a triple and an RBI. Maehr added two singles and a run scored, while Giles has the other extra-base hit, a double, in the sixth inning. Quigley gave up all three earned runs and struck out four Jeffs in seven frames.
On Saturday, Middlebury swept a pair of games from Amherst for the key NESCAC series win. Middlebury came out swinging in the first contest, plating three runs in the opening inning. Freyre connected on a key three-run double to right center with two outs, giving her team the early lead.
Maehr walked and was pinch-run for by junior Jackie Stern (Northfield, Ill.) to lead off the third inning. Giles later walked before Kim singled to right center to score Stern from second base. Hamilton followed with a base hit to left field to drive in Giles for the 5-0 advantage.
The Amherst bats came alive in the sixth, as they cut the lead to 5-2. Donna Leet reached on a bunt single and stole second, moving to third on a base hit to right by Brianna Cook. Cook stole second and Leet broke for home and put the Jeffs on the board. Caroline Sealanders later drove in Cook for Amherst's second run.
Amherst rallied in the seventh with two outs. Kelsey Ayers singled up the middle and moved to second when Leet singled to left center. Ally Kido reached on a throwing error to load the bases with two outs. Cook delivered the key hit in the inning, singling through the left side to plate Leet and Ayers, making it a one-run game. Stearns induced a fielder's choice groundout to end the contest, leaving the tying run on second base. The hurler moved to 6-2 with her first complete-game win of the season, allowing just one earned run. Gina Pagan took the loss, allowing five runs and four hits over six innings of work.
O'Sullivan, Kim, Freyre and Hamilton each had hits for Middlebury, including the double from Freyre that drove in three runs. Cook finished 2-4 with two RBI to pace the Jeffs, Leet was 2-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases, while Caroline Sealander finished 2-3 with an RBI.
Middlebury jumped on Amherst early once again in game two, scoring seven runs in the first three innings, including three in the first on no hits. Giles scored a run with a bases-loaded walk, Maehr crossed the plate on a passed ball, while Vachow scored on a fielder's choice by Kim.
In the second inning, Bicks singled to right center and stole second, before Maehr was hit by a pitch. Vachow followed with a double down the left field line to score Maehr and Bicks, making it a 5-0 game.
Amherst got on the board in the third as Ayers singled to right center with one out. Leet singled through the left side to put runners on first and second before Ayers moved them up with a sacrifice bunt. Cook singled to right to plate Leet before Caroline Sealander singled up the middle to drive in Leet to make it a 5-2 game.
Middlebury answered in the bottom half of the inning, with a lead-off double to right center by Freyre. Hamilton reached on an infield single before both runners moved up on a passed ball. One batter later, Bicked singled to center to drive in both runs for the 7-2 advantage.
Amherst's Alena Marovi homered to straight-away center in the top of the sixth before the Panthers won the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the inning. With two on, Freyre singled down the right-field line to load the bases. Senior Hannah Marks (Chappaqua, N.Y.) came on to pinch hit, earning an RBI as she was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Quigley singled to center to drive in another run, before Bicks ended the game with a two-run single to left.
Quigley improved to 11-3 with the win, allowing three runs over six innings with a pair of strikeouts. Amherst starter Jackie Buechler suffered the loss, allowing seven runs, four earned over 2.1 innings of work. Lauren Tuiskula gave up four runs on six hits in three innings.
Bicks went 3-3 in the game with four RBI and a run scored, while Vachow was 2-3 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. Freyre and Quigley each went 2-4 with Freyre scoring twice and Quigley driving in a run.
Marovitz paced the Jeffs with a 2-3 game with a solo shot, while six other Jeffs had hits.
In Sunday’s makeup game against Williams, Alison Michalik singled to start the game. After stealing second, Michalik raced home on a bloop single to right by Tayler Donze for a 1-0 lead. The Ephs had a chance in the second to expand their lead when Lindsey Precht smashed a one-out double down the left field line, but Stearns got consecutive fly-outs to end the threat.
Middlebury got its first baserunner on in the second inning, when Giles drew an opening walk. Giles was later forced out at second on a nice 1-6 fielder's choice started by pitcher Brooke Bovier with one away. Bovier induced an infield pop-out to end the second.
Williams started a two-out rally in the third, as Donze got her second single to right, later reaching second on a walk by Lexi Curt. Melissa Cendejas followed with a shot to the left side hole, but Kim knocked it down and tossed to second for the inning-ending force out.
With one out in the fourth, Vachow got the Panthers' first hit off Bovier beating out a close play at first. Middlebury couldn't capitalize hitting into a classic 6-4-3 double-play to end the inning.
The visitors earned some breathing room in the sixth, scoring a pair of runs. Erica Li was hit by Stearns to start the inning, as Michalik reached on a check-swing ball that was misplayed in the infield. On the Michalik play, Li was awarded third base and Michalik second on the throwing error. That was all for Stearns, as Quigley came on in relief with nobody out. Quigley tossed a wild pitch to Mo Frank, allowing Li to score and Michalik to reach third. Later in the at-bat, Frank roped an RBI single to left center, scoring Michalik for a 3-0 Williams’ advantage.
The Panthers rallied in the bottom of the sixth as Bicks laced a one-out double to left-center. O'Sullivan followed and was hit by Bovier. With two on, Maehr crushed a two-run double to left field, closing the gap to 3-2. The Panthers had two chances to get the equalizer to cross home, but Bovier got out of the jam with a deep fly-out to left and a foul-out.
Williams went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, bringing the Panthers to bat with a chance to tie it in the final frame. After a tough sixth inning in the circle, Bovier sent Middlebury down in order, collecting her 12th win on the year.
Donze paced Williams with two singles and an RBI, as Michalik has a hit and scored twice. Frank, the NESCAC's leading hitter entering the game (.512) went 1-4 with an RBI, while Precht had the other hit for the Ephs, a double in the second inning. Bovier went the distance, allowing three hits and two earned runs over seven innings.
Maehr's two-run double highlighted the Panther day at the plate, as Bicks also added a two-bagger and Vachow had a single. Stearns went 4.0 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) with a pair of strikeouts, as Quigley tossed the final three innings, allowing one hit and no runs.
• Softball record: 17-8
• Up next: 4/23 vs. Plymouth State (DH) – 3:30, 4/24 @ Keene State – 4:00 (DH), 4/26 @ Wesleyan – 12:00