The Middlebury softball team dropped a 5-4 decision in nine innings, but bounced back with a 5-1 victory in the nightcap on Sunday, winning the three-game NESCAC West series with the Cardinals. The Panthers (17-9-1, 4-5) return home for a non-conference doubleheader Tuesday, hosting Plattsburgh State at 3:30 p.m.
In the opening game, Wesleyan (10-18, 1-7) started the scoring in their initial at bat on a RBI double to left by Reilly Wieners.
Middlebury's defense prevented the Cardinals from adding to their lead, recording an inning-ending double play on a fly out. Left fielder Ali Della Volpe caught a fly ball by Julie McDonald and threw a strike to catcher Liza Tarr, gunning down Rachel Kantor at the plate to get out of a bases-loaded jam.
Wesleyan increased the lead in the third on a base hit to center field, followed by another run-scoring single by Kantor for a 3-0 edge. The inning could have been bigger for the Cardinals, but the Panthers recorded their second double play of the contest on a line out to shortstop by Izzy Linzer.
Middlebury tied the game in the top of the fifth when Marybeth Stone doubled to right field to score Mandell for the team's first run. Taylor Gardner knotted the score at 3-3 with a two-run single to right, plating Stone and Sarah Freyre.
In the top of the eighth, the Panthers went ahead 4-3, as Siobhan O'Sullivan belted a solo home run to center field.
Wesleyan came back in its half of the inning, plating the tying run on a base hit by Hayley Lipson, but also came up just short of scoring the winning run when Estella Zeng was thrown out at plate by O'Sullivan to send the game to the ninth inning.
The Cardinals ended the contest with two outs on a single to right center by McDonald, making the final 5-4.
Stone, Freyre, Hye-Jin Kim and Gardner each finished with two hits apiece for the Panthers, while Wesleyan's Kendall Carr went 4-5.
In the circle, Irene Margiotta tossed the first five innings, allowing three runs with four strikeouts, while Allison Quigley pitched the final 3.2 innings for the loss. Quigley (8-6) struck out a pair, making her the fifth pitcher in program history to record 200 career strikeouts at 201.
McDonald (6-9) earned the win for Cardinals, allowing only one run in five innings of relief.
Middlebury got the early jump on Wesleyan in the second game, scoring twice in the top of the first. O'Sullivan doubled in Freyre for the first run, while Gardner plated O'Sullivan with a two-base hit.
The Panthers added three more runs in the second, as Freyre drove in two with a double to center, and scored on a base hit by O'Sullivan for a 5-0 lead.
The Cardinals scored their only run of the game in the fourth when Carr hit a solo home run to center field.
Margiotta (7-3) pitched a complete game to earn the win for Middlebury, giving up the one run on three hits. Kantor (4-9) took the loss for the hosts, as she didn't get out of the second inning. McDonald finished the game with 5.1 innings of scoreless relief.
At the plate for the Panthers, Freyre (two doubles) and O'Sullivan each went 2-4 and drove in a pair of runs. Olivia Bravo and Della Volpe added to the offense with two hits apiece. Carr finished 1-3 and had the only extra-base hit for Wesleyan.