Softball improves to 9-8; sweeps Wesleyan

This past weekend Amherst traveled to Connecticut hoping to improve its NESCAC record in a doubleheader against Wesleyan University. The rain did not deter the focus of either squad during the first game, as both teams played nearly flawless softball, each posting only one error. Wesleyan struck first, scoring a run on a triple and an RBI single. Amherst responded in the fourth when a sacrifice bunt from Caroline Polales ’07 advanced Gina Scribner ’04, who then scored on an error by the catcher.

Wesleyan reclaimed the lead later that inning, managing one run on three hits. Amherst loaded the bases in the fifth with Greta Anderson ’05 and Laura Trigeiro ’06 reaching on singles and Rachel Hoerger ’06 with a walk. With only one out, Scribner hit into a fielder’s choice at second but managed to score Anderson. Polales then singled to center field, scoring Trigeiro.

The Jeffs added to their 3-2 lead in the sixth when Kathryn Honderd ’05 reached first on a walk and then scored off a single by Anderson to bring the score to 4-2. Miya Warner ’06 struck out seven and dispersed seven hits en route to the complete-game victory.

The second game progressed much like the first. Again the Cardinals scored one run in the first, but the Jeffs promptly responded with a five-run third inning led by Anderson, whose single to center yielded two RBIs.

In the bottom of the seventh inning with the tying run on second, the Jeffs stood one out away from victory. A Wesleyan line drive up the middle appeared to have found a hole, but a spectacular diving catch by senior captain Jessica Allen saved the game and gave Amherst a 7-5 win.

The first Thursday following spring break Amherst traveled to Worcester seeking to repeat last year’s win over Clark University. The Jeffs took the early lead after an error by the Cougar’s second baseman allowed Trigeiro to reach first. Trigeiro then advanced to third off a well-placed bunt by rookie Annalise Rodli and a single by Scribner. Hoerger rounded out the effort with an RBI sacrifice fly to right field that allowed Trigeiro to tag up and score the first run of the game.

The Jeffs’ offense didn’t relent. In the third inning Trigeiro singled, then advanced to third on an error by Clark’s first baseman. With two outs, Hoerger again provided the RBI, this time with a well-hit single that evaded Clark’s defense. Three sixth-inning singles by Hoerger, Polales and Hilary Little ’07 extended the Jeffs’ lead to 3-0.

Clark, however, regrouped and answered back with two runs on two hits in the sixth inning and a third in the seventh, forcing the game into extra innings. In what can only be described as an all-out hitting display, Amherst proceeded to score seven runs on eight hits in the eighth, sealing a 10-3 win. Warner pitched a complete-game win, limiting Clark to just four hits.

“The eighth inning was an awesome accomplishment and it showed what we can do under pressure,” said Hoerger, who went 3-4 with two RBIs. “But their pitcher wasn’t great and we should have been able to tee off on her a bit earlier. We brought it together in the end though, and that’s what counts.”

Unable to rally a scoring drive similar to the Clark game, Amherst suffered back-to-back shutout losses to visiting Middlebury College in a double-header the following Saturday.

The first game was close and tense, with both teams scoreless entering the sixth inning. A series of errant throws and well-placed hits, however, gave the Panthers a three-run lead that proved insurmountable for the Jeffs.

Offense once again dictated the course of the second game as Middlebury managed 10 hits compared to Amherst’s one. The mercy rule was instituted in the sixth inning with Middlebury leading 8-0.

Amherst returned to Pratt Field that Monday to face local foe Smith College in another doubleheader. Despite eight errors going into the top of the ninth, Amherst held Smith scoreless until the ninth, when a well-placed sacrifice bunt followed by a wild pitch allowed the runner to score, giving Smith the 1-0 lead. The Jeffs seemed poised to claim the victory in the bottom half of the inning after positioning runners on second and third with only one out. With their infield in to protect the lead, the Pioneers successfully negotiated a 1-3-2 double play off Hoerger’s bunt, tagging the tying run at the plate and securing the victory.

While game one was dominated by defense, game two proved to be an offensive battle. Although Trigeiro tallied three of her team’s eight hits and Polales two, the 14 by Smith once again gave the Pioneers the edge and ultimately the 7-4 victory.

Amherst defeated Mt. Holyoke 3-2 yesterday on the strength of a two-run homerun by Polales in the bottom of the sixth. Warner notched her eighth win of the season. Amherst returns to action this afternoon against Worcester Polytechnic Institute at 4:00 p.m.