Softball Sweeps Cardinals in Extra Innings Thrillers

By Alex Morris

While most Middlebury students were enjoying three days off last weekend, the softball team was busy playing five games over the course of three days. They swept a three-game series with NESCAC rival Wesleyan on April 11-12 and split two games with Keene State on Sunday, April 13.
The Panthers won the first game of the series against Wesleyan 6-2 on Friday. Kimber Sable ’14, Jackie Stern ’16 and tri-captain Emily Kraytenberg ’14 scored when Hye-Jin Kim ’17 smashed a three-run double, putting the Panthers up 3-0 in the third. Wesleyan scored in the fourth and fifth, but Middlebury secured the win in the bottom of the fifth with runs from Kim, Carlyn Vachow ’16, and Kelsey Martel ’15.

The Panthers won both games of the Saturday doubleheader 4-3. The Cardinals started the first game with a bang, scoring two early, and their pitcher, reigning NESCAC Pitcher of the Week Su Pardo, made it difficult for the Panthers to answer. Kim proved key in this game, sending Kraytenberg home in the fifth, and Stern home in the seventh. Stern’s run tied the game and sent it in to extra innings. The game proved to be a nail biter, and neither team managed to cross home plate during the eighth or ninth inning, forcing the teams to start the 10th with a runner on second, according to NESCAC tie-breaker rules. Wesleyan snuck in a run the 10th, but Middlebury fought back, taking advantage of a throwing error to tie the game, and then Martel hit a fly that sent Vachow in to score, winning the game.

Middlebury rode the momentum into the final game of the series, scoring three in the first when Vachow cleared the bases with a double to left. The Cardinals worked their way back, responding with runs in the fourth and fifth before they tied the game in the seventh. It was then that Vachow stepped up once again to seal the Panthers’ victory, this time with a home run. Kim sang the praises of her teammate. “Carlyn was especially amazing…both behind the plate and at the plate,” Kim said. “She’s clutch.”

The team was back on the field on Sunday with another double-header, this time against Keene State. The Owls got on the board first with a bases loaded walk in the first and then again with a run in the third, but the Panthers made a fierce comeback, with five hits and four runs. One three-run double on the weekend wasn’t enough for Kim, as she smacked yet another one in the third, then scored off a hit by Sarah Freyre ’17. Keene State tied the game in the fourth, but Middlebury went full steam ahead, and Sable, Christina Bicks ’15 and Kim all scored in the fifth.

The Panthers faltered in the nightcap however, trailing by five until the third, but the resilient team bounced back when Sable hit an RBI triple and Vachow smashed a ball to the fence that sent three runners home. Siobhan O’Sullivan ’17 and Emily Smith ’14 added a run each when Kraytenberg smashed one in the fourth. The Panthers looked like they had the game, but the Owls managed to come back in the seventh. It was a tie game with two outs when the Owls managed to eke out one more run to win the game, breaking the Panthers six-game winning streak.

Despite being “a little bummed” to split with Keene State, Kim was very happy with the team’s performance.

“Our games this weekend were a complete team effort,” Kim said. “We never lost confidence in each other even when we were down a couple runs, which was really cool.”

Coach Kelly Bevere also complimented her team on doing “an excellent job staying mentally tough in some really tight games.”

The Panthers play Hamilton at home this weekend, and Kim feels supremely confident about the coming series.

“Hide yo’ kids, hide yo’ wives, and hide yo’ brooms because we’re planning to sweep Hamilton,” Kim said.