NORTON, Mass. - The Wheaton College softball team dropped a pair of non-conference games to Brandeis University on Thursday afternoon, suffering 7-3 and 4-3 setbacks on Clark Field. With the day's results, the Lyons fall to 17-15 on the season, while the Judges improve to 16-15.
In the opener, Wheaton lit up the scoreboard early with a three-run first inning. The initial run scored on a Brandeis miscue. Then singles by junior Valerie Tratner (Forest Hills, N.Y./Saint Francis Prep) and freshman Ashley Brillon (Attleboro, Mass./Bishop Feehan) each scored a run. Brandeis responded with junior Maxie Hirschler's (Bellmore, N.Y./John F. Kennedy) home run to left field. The outfielder also launched a homer in the fifth to bring the game within a run.
In the sixth inning, the Judges shot ahead with a decisive five-run spurt. A trio of singles brought in four runs, as freshman Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee School) drove in two runs while senior Danielle Lavallee (Sutton, Mass./Notre Dame) and junior Marianne Specker (South Windsor, Conn./Westminster) each enabled a run to score. A fielding error and a rundown allowed the final run of the game to score just before the final out was recorded.
Freshman Allison Baker (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional) shouldered the loss, surrendering seven runs, five earned, on nine hits while fanning seven. Senior Rachel Merrick (Methuen, Mass./Central Catholic) tossed a scoreless inning in relief.
For Brandeis, sophomore Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) earned the win, scattering six hits and striking out four. At the plate, junior Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) batted 3-for-4, while Hirschler and Nolan each went 2-for-4.
The Judges jumped ahead 3-0 in game two on a three-run blast by Miller. Also scoring on the play were Lavallee and junior Samantha Gajewski (Elkridge, Md./Long Reach), who reached on a single and a walk, respectively. Wheaton began chipping away at the Brandeis advantage, as sophomore Megan Roy (North Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) led off the fourth by smacking a double to left field. A run-producing single by sophomore Amanda Drury (Tolland, Conn./Tolland) allowed Roy to cross home plate.
In the fifth, the Lyons grabbed another run, this time on a sacrifice bunt by senior Marissa Hobocan (Shelton, Conn./Saint Joseph) to score junior Amanda Poplaski (North Reading, Mass./North Reading). An inning later, a solo round-tripper by senior Nicole DeRosa (Greenwich, Conn./Greenwich Academy) tied the game at three.
Judge senior Courtney Kelley (Leicester, Mass./Notre Dame) secured what proved to be the game-winning run in the top of the seventh with a homer to right field. Junior Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harrilton) pitched the first 4.1 innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out four. Nolan finished the game and gave up one run on one hit while fanning a pair. Specker led the way offensively, going 2-for-2 with 2 RBI.
Merrick went the first four innings for the Lyons, giving up three runs on five hits with one strikeout. Baker tossed the balance of the contest and allowed one run on three hits while fanning four. Senior Katy Salka (Ayer, Mass./Ayer) was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate while drawing a pair of walks.
Wheaton hosts New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) foe Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in its regular season league finale at 3:00 p.m.