Softball Tallies Six Consecutive Wins

By Alex Morris

After a strong start to the season during spring break where the Middlebury softball team posted a record of 5-5 on its Florida trip, the Panthers went on to collect two wins against Castleton and Union during the week of April 2. This puts the team in a strong position to play Hamilton this coming weekend, April 12 and 13.

Head coach Kelly Bevere outlined some of the team’s expectations heading into the regular season.

“Going into Florida, we were working off some injuries, so we were looking to get players back into action,” said Bevere.

The team opened up its season with a 12-3 win over Western Connecticut in Clermont, Florida. Pitcher Kat Maehr ’16 earned the win in her collegiate debut, allowing three runs over four innings. Sarah Boylan ’13 went 2-3 with two doubles, three runs scored and three RBIs, while Emma Katz ’13 was 2-2 with a double and four RBIs.

Middlebury fell 6-5 to Tufts in the second game of break and first game against a NESCAC opponent after a hard-fought battle. With the game tied at 4-4, the Jumbos scored solo runs in the fifth and seventh innings before holding off a Panther charge in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jessa Hoffman ’13 went 3-4 with a double and two RBIs in the game, while Kimber Sable ’14 was 2-3 with a double and two runs scored.

While Middlebury fell 12-5 to Oberlin on day two of spring break, the Panthers bounced back beating Grove City 11-2. Middlebury held a 9-0 early lead in the five-inning contest as Elizabeth Morris ’14 allowed one run in four innings and Jessica Poracky ’13 went 2-2 with a double and two runs scored. Carlyn Vachow ’16 went 2-3 with a double, two runs scored and three RBIs.

Middlebury continued its strong spring break with a 6-5 win over Colby and an 8-4 win over Eastern Connecticut. Against Colby, Vachow went 2-3 with a double while Hoffman was 2-4 with a triple. The Panthers built up a 5-0 lead over Eastern Connecticut as Sable went 3-3 in the game, while Hoffman was 2-3 with a triple and Morris picked up the complete game win as pitcher.

Middlebury was unable to build off these wins, falling to both Union and Luther. Against Union, the team gave up four runs in the seventh and then one in the eighth as they dropped an extra-inning affair. The Panthers gave up seven runs in the third inning against Luther as Hoffman went 2-2 in the game with a double while Poracky also doubled.

The Panthers then managed an 11-3 win over Elmhurst in which Morris earned the win with five innings of work. Jackie Stern ’16 finished the game 3-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs. The team was unable to end their visit to Florida with a win, dropping their final game of the trip 9-0 to Wisconsin-Whitewater in six innings. Poracky finished 2-3 in the game, while four other Middlebury players singled.

Middlebury capped the spring break trip with a 2-1 series win over Amherst. The Panthers faltered with an opening loss, despite rallying in the bottom of the seventh trailing 4-0 to score three runs. Hoffman went 4-4 with two doubles and two RBIs, while Boylan claimed a double.

The Panthers bounced back on the second day of their three-game affair against the Jeffs. Middlebury scored 21 runs on 23 hits to claim two victories, taking the first game 10-4 before earning an 11-3 win in game two. Hoffman finished the three-game series going 8-10 with three doubles, five runs scored and five RBIs. This performance put her batting average at .545 on the season to earn NESCAC Player of the Week Honors.

Middlebury continued non-conference play after spring break spring starting with a doubleheader win against Castleton on Tuesday, April 2, earning a 10-2 win in five innings for a game one victory and a 7-0 win in the nightcap.

The Panthers scored in each of the five innings of their first game, starting with an RBI single in the top of the first by Poracky that drove in Sable. They then added an unearned run in the top of second and three more tallies in the top of the third. Vachow knocked a run with a single in the top of the fourth and came around to score on error before Hoffman ripped a two-run single to center, and was then driven in by Vachow on sacrifice fly to extend their lead to 10-0.

The Spartans notched their only runs in the bottom of the fifth to break-up the shutout in which Maehr held them to just five hits, allowing two unearned runs and striking out six. Hoffman finished the game 3-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs, while Vachow went 2-3 with three RBIs.

In game two, the Panthers started with a two-run home run by Boylan in the top of the second inning, adding to their lead in the fifth after a double from Vachow. In the next inning Poracky popped an RBI double to center and was driven in by Alex Scibetta ’15 on a sacrifice fly to gain a 6-0 lead. Poracky finished the scoring earning another RBI on a single to left-center in the top of the seventh.

The Spartans were held to just three hits by Alexa Lesenskyj ’14 and Neve Stearns ’16, who combined to pitch a shutout. Poracky finished 2-3 with two runs scored and two driven in.

Middlebury finished off the week strong with a two-game sweep at Union on Thursday, April 4, ending the first game 7-1 before only needing six innings to pick up a 10-2 victory in the second game.

The Panthers jumped out to an early lead through a long ball from Hoffman, before she struck again in the top of the third with a single good enough to double the lead. A solo shot from Sable gave the Panthers a 3-1 edge before Stern followed up with a home run. Poracky extended the lead with a RBI single to score in Stern, before Middlebury added yet another run as Vachow lined the ball down left field to bring Stern home. Hoffman hit her second home run of the game to tie the school record on a two-run shot to finish off the scoring for Middlebury.

Morris shut down the Dutchwomen offense, limiting Union to just four hits in the game and one run.

The Panthers followed up their first win with another strong showing, responding in the first inning with an RBI single from Stern. Hoffman continued the surge with a double to the gap to level the score. Middlebury was able to add on three more runs with RBI singles by Emily Kraytenberg ’14 and Alex Scibetta ’14. Vachow was able to get Hoffman home as she reached on a double before Sable added on her RBI tally in the top of the fifth as she doubled to score in two more runs. Middlebury added a final run to make it 10-2 as Sable reach on an error.

While Bevere is happy with the start her team has made, she knows there is much to be improved upon.

“One thing we’re looking at is communication, [between] outfield and infield and vice versa, staying sharp defensively and being more efficient offensively,” she said.

The Panthers return to action against Skidmore on Wednesday, April 10 before traveling to NESCAC rivals Hamilton on Friday, April 12.