Softball: Jeffs stay perfect in NESCAC

On April 17, the Jeffs faced skilled non-league foe Westfield State College in a rare weekday doubleheader. In the first game, the Jeffs played tough and held on for a 5-4 win. However, defensive mistakes and an inability to generate offense cost the team the nightcap as they fell to their opponents 9-1.

In the afternoon game, the Jeffs pounded out 12 hits against Westfield starter Sarah Simons. Emily Melia ’03 was an offensive sparkplug going three-for-four including a two-run triple in the first. Gina Scribner’s ’04 single, followed by a double by junior shortstop Missy Mordy, began a Jeff rally in the sixth inning. Erin Dittus ’03 hit an RBI double to bring the duo home, giving the Jeffs the 5-3 lead. This run support was all that pitching sensation Lauren Peloquin ’02 would need as she held off Westfield en route to Amherst’s 5-4 victory.

In the second act of the double-header, Westfield pitcher Sarah Kalager allowed only four hits and one earned run in a full five innings of work. Given their offensive futility, the Jeffs didn’t do themselves any favors with their four errors. Amherst ultimately dropped the contest, 9-1, when the game was called after five innings because of the mery rule.

Despite their uneven play against Westfield, Amherst continued their strong play in the NESCAC with a two-game sweep of conference rival Trinity College during a doubleheader this past Saturday. While both games were nailbiters that went down to the wire, the Jeffs managed one-run victories in each to improve their record to 16-8.

The opening game was a pitchers’ duel throughout, as Peloquin and her Bantam counterpart Kate Hunter each pitched seven innings of shutout ball, sending the game to extra innings. The scoreless tie was finally broken in the top of the eighth, when by league rules each team starts the inning with a runner on second.

Head Coach Sue Everden called in speedy Elizabeth Staunton ’05 as a pinch runner to begin the inning at second base. Staunton advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and was able to cross home on a wild pitch. That was the only offense Amherst would muster that inning. Trinity knotted the score in their half of the inning courtesy of a daring squeeze play.

But Amherst was able to break the game open in the top of the ninth, as the team crossed the plate three times due almost entirely to Hunter’s lack of control from the mound. Despite pitching a no-hitter, Hunter was done in by three wild pitches and three walks in what proved to be the final inning of play. Peloquin herself had a no-hitter going until the bottom of ninth inning, but it was finally broken by the Bantams in a ninth inning rally of their own. Trinity had two hits and two runs in the bottom of the ninth, but it was not enough as Amherst held on for the 4-3 victory.

Amherst won the second game 3-2 behind the strong pitching of Melia. Scribner’s bases-emptying triple in the third gave the Jeffs all the offense they would need.

The two wins on the day improved Amherst’s NESCAC record to a perfect 8-0 and they remain atop the standings in the West Division.

With a split against Williams College this Saturday, Amherst will be the number one seed and will host the NESCAC Tournament the following weekend.

“We’re really excited about our double-header against Williams this coming weekend,” said freshman first basemen Katie Honderd. “We’ve steadily improved throughout the season and this will be a great chance to prove what kind of team we are.”

“The kinks are finally being combed out of our game and we are playing much cleaner than we were a few weeks ago,” said Staunton. “We are playing well together and, as the season gets closer and closer to the tournament, we are finally beginning to be more aggressive on base, at the plate and defensively in the field.”