Softball Narrowly Squeaks by Hamilton

By Sydney Read

Not only did Lizzie Morris ’14 help lead her team to victory over NESCAC rival Hamilton in last weekend’s three-game series, but she also reached 309 career strikeouts, a new all-time school record. The Panthers, now 7-2 in conference, take on Williams in a three-game series this weekend, the winner of which will nab the top seed and act as host for the NESCAC tournament May 2-4.

Middlebury won the first game of the series against Hamilton 2-0 last Friday afternoon at Middlebury. The Panthers scored in the second when Kelsey Martel ’15 smacked one to centerfield, sending Sarah Freyre ’17 in to home plate. The lead was by no means secure though, and Hamilton looked poised to strike in the fourth.

Bases were loaded after two batters were hit, but the Panthers managed to keep the Continentals off the board.

Martel was hit on the ankle in the fifth, and Alex Scibetta ’14 sent her to second with a sacrifice hit. She made it to third off a hit by Christina Bicks ’15, and finally made her way home on a wild pitch.

The Continentals had a few chances to tie the game, but the Panthers proved victorious, thanks in large part to Morris, who pitched a complete-game, four-hit shutout.

Hamilton was back on Saturday for a doubleheader, as both teams took a game 1-0. Neve Stearns ’16 proved key in the first game as she delivered her first complete-game shutout. Like Morris the day before, she only allowed four hits.

“I went into the game really just wanting to win each at bat, take it one by one,” Stearns said. “The team support is the most important. I really just trust my defense to make the plays and trust my offense to get the runs.”

Both teams were eager to score, and both teams had many close calls. The game remained scoreless until the fifth though, when Bicks once again sent Martel home to score.

The second game was a landmark for Morris, as she reached 300 strikeouts by the end of just the first inning. Over the course of the game she struck out 10 batters and only allowed five hits. She now holds the school record with 309 strikeouts.

“I didn’t realize quite how close I was, because I try not to look at stats while I’m in season because it can be nerve-racking and distracting,” Morris said.

Despite her accomplishment, the Panthers were not able to put one on the board and Hamilton managed to eke out a run in the fourth inning. Middlebury was close on their heels, and it looked like Carlyn Vachow ’16 might be able to tie the game up in the seventh, but she ended up stranded on second.

Despite being unable to sweep the Continentals, the weekend was a success for the Panthers, and they are already preparing for their games against Williams. According to Stearns, Williams is “the team to beat.”

“We need to stay focused on how we can get better every day,” Morris said. “We need to be at our best so we can win the series and host the NESCAC tournament here in Middlebury.”

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