WALTHAM, Mass. - Sophomore Jenna Rocha (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) belted a pair of home runs to help the Wheaton College softball team shake off a 5-4 loss at Brandeis University in game one and down the Judges 6-3 in the nightcap of its doubleheader Wednesday afternoon.
In game one, Wheaton (15-15) received a pair of solo home runs from freshman Noelle Christmas (Plymouth, Mass./Plymouth South) and junior Megan Roy (North Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) in the top of the first to take a 2-1 lead. Brandeis senior Brittany Grimm (Perkiomenville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) answered with her team-leading fifth blast of the season in the bottom of the inning to cut the Judges deficit in half.
Brandeis batted around in the third, scoring four times to build a 5-2 lead. Junior Casey Ducinski (Duxbury, Mass./Duxbury) singled to shortstop and moved to second as the Lyons were returning the ball into the circle. As she danced off second with the next batter at the plate, Ducinski drew a throw that sailed into center field deep enough to allow her to score all the way from second. The next four Brandeis batters singled, with Specker recording two RBI to give the Judges a 4-2 lead. Senior pitcher Caroline Miller (Bala Cynwyd, Pa./Harriton) drove in the Judges fourth run of the inning with what proved to be the game-winning hit.
Miller also held Wheaton at bay until the fifth inning, retiring nine in a row. Freshman Aimee Avila (North Dighton, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth Regional) led off the fifth with a single through the left side. Miller got the next two outs before Rocha singled to cut the deficit to 5-3. Christmas followed with a double down the left field line that allowed Rocha to score all the way from first. The Lyons put runners on base in the sixth and seventh, neither of which advanced past second as the Judges hung on for the win.
Miller improved to 8-4 on the season with seven innings of seven-hit ball. She struck out five and did not walk a batter. Wheaton sophomore Allison Baker (Orange, Conn./Amity Regional) fell to 9-10 by giving up 10 hits and five earned runs. She fanned six and walked one.
Brandeis freshman Amanda Genovese (North Haven, Conn./North Haven) had three hits to lead the Judges, while Grimm went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and an RBI. Her home run was Brandeis only extra-base hit of the game. Christmas and Roy each recorded a pair of hits for the Lyons.
In game two, Rocha sent the third pitch of the game from Brandeis sophomore Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee School) over the centerfield fence to stake Wheaton to a 1-0 lead. Rocha went deep again in the third, this time recording a two-run blast that gave her seven on the season. The Lyons threatened again in the frame after Christmas reached when a dropped third strike was thrown away on the play at first. Brandeis got some fortunate bounces, however, as a bunt single attempt hit a batter for the first out of the inning, and following another Roy double, a grounder to short saw Roy and Grimm collide, with the runner being called out for interference.
Brandeis loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the third, but freshman Emily Berardi (Boston, Mass./Boston Latin School) induced a 5-2-3 double play to escape trouble. Wheaton nearly blew the game open with a similar bases-loaded, one-out situation in the top of the fourth, but Christmas topped the ball off the plate, allowing Brandeis catcher Cori Coleman (Burr Ridge, Ill./Hinsdale South) to step on the dish and fire to first, where Christmas was called out for being in the base path when the throw hit her in the back.
The Lyons had another chance to open up some distance in the fifth when sophomore Ashley Brillon (Attleboro, Mass./Bishop Feehan) drew a leadoff walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. After Roy singled to put runners on the corners, Ducinski entered the circle in relief. Roy stole second, but Ducinski got a strike out, a sharp grounder to third, and a pop up to keep it a three-run game.
The Judges tied the game at three with three runs in the fifth. Sophomore Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial) sparked the rally with a one-out home run to left-center field. After a pair of bunt singles by Ducinski and Genovese, with a wild pitch and steal in the mix, the Judges had runners on second and third. Christmas came on in relief and got a grounder to second for the second out, which brought Specker to the plate. The senior fouled off three two-strike pitches before singling through the right side, tying the game and reaching the 100-RBI plateau in the process.
Wheaton answered with three runs in the sixth to take the lead for good at 6-3. With junior Amanda Drury (Tolland, Conn./Tolland) at third and Christmas at second, Brillon sent a two-run double to left that plated the game-winning runs. Roy's second double of the game pushed the lead back to three runs at 6-3.
Christmas stranded two Brandeis runners in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth and got the Judges in order in the seventh to earn her sixth win of the season. She scattered three hits in 2.2 innings in relief of Berardi. Ducinski, meanwhile, fell to 2-3 as she allowed three runs on three hits in three innings of work.
McWilliams (2-for-3, HR, 2B, RBI) and Genovese (2-for-4, R, SB) were the top offensive performers for Brandeis, while Roy (3-for-3, RBI, 2 2B) and Rocha (2-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI) led the Lyons attack.
Wheaton returns to action on Friday when it heads to WPI for a 3 p.m. doubleheader. Brandeis travels to Eastern Connecticut State on Thursday for a DH beginning at 4 p.m.