Softball clinches playoff berth
On April 10, the Jeffs took on neighboring non-league rival Mt. Holyoke College. Despite having the home field advantage and getting a solid performance by co-captain pitcher Lauren Peloquin ’02, Amherst failed to pull out the victory and lost 3-1, dropping their record to 11-7.
Although the Jeffs fell behind 1-0 in the first, they managed to even the score at one apiece in the bottom of the third when co-captain Becca Binder ’02 led off with a double. After a sacrifice bunt by Della Huff ’04 sent her to third, Binder then scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of third baseman Jessica Allen ’04.
But besides scattering a few singles, including a pair by Peloquin, Amherst was not able to produce much more offense in the game. Mt. Holyoke finally took advantage of a tiring Peloquin when freshman Carrie Warner hit a two-run homer in the sixth to score what would prove to be the decisive runs in the matchup.
However, as they have done all season, Amherst fought right back and picked their play by sweeping a doubleheader from visiting Hamilton on April 13. This would be the third time that Amherst has swept two games from NESCAC rivals. Peloquin earned her 11th victory of the season in the opener, finishing with nine strikeouts and surrendering just four hits. She also pitched her way to her second save of the year in the night game.
After once again falling behind early 1-0, the Jeffs retaliated in the bottom of the third as designated hitter Elizabeth Staunton ’05 led off with a walk. The speedy freshman then stole second and advanced to third on a sac bunt by junior shortstop Missy Mordy. After a walk to first baseman Gina Scribner ’04, Peloquin ripped a sac fly to score Staunton, knotting the score at one.
As the game progressed, Hamilton failed to scrounge up any offense against a rock-solid Peloquin. Amherst then took the lead in the fourth inning when junior right fielder Tamara Baer tripled to left, then scored on a sac fly by junior pinch hitter Erin Dittus. The Jeffs would add an insurance run in the fifth, as Mordy would score on an RBI double by Scribner to seal the victory.
Junior pitcher Emily Melia took the mound to start the night game and gave her team an incredible performance, allowing just one hit in five shutout innings to even her pitching record at 2-2.
The Jeffs took the early lead in the second inning when Peloquin led off with a double, advanced on a sac bunt by Melia and scored on a throwing error. Amherst would add another in the third, as Staunton reached first base on a throwing error and once again stole second. Scribner then singled and reached second on a throwing error as Staunton crossed the plate. She would score again in the fifth inning, after reaching on a bunt single that send Huff to third. Huff, however, would be called out at the plate after attempting to steal home. Mordy immediately stepped up and drove home Staunton with an RBI single. Amherst went on to take the 3-0 win behind the shutout pitching of Melia and Peloquin.
“We played two very solid games against Hamilton,” said Baer of the sweep. “And Hamilton is a very strong team.”
The pair of wins give Amherst a flawless 6-0 record in NESCAC West Division play, clinching an automatic bid for the Jeffs in the postseason tournament. This week, the Jeffs have to play a pair of doubleheaders on the road. The first of these doubleheaders is against Westfield State College on Wednesday. Then the Jeffs travel to Hartford for a twin-bill NESCAC matchup against Trinity College this coming Saturday.
“I think we’re a very good team, but we have the potential to be an excellent team,” said Baer. “There’s still room for improvement.”