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Panther softball claims two more league wins

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College softball team won two of four NESCAC West games over the weekend, including two of three in a home series vs. Amherst College. The 17-8 Panthers have one more NESCAC game — at Wesleyan this Sunday — before the league playoffs.
In this past weekend’s series with the Jeffs, the Panthers lost on Friday, 3-2, but rebounded Saturday for a 5-4 win in the opener and an 11-3 triumph in the day’s second game. In Sunday’s makeup game against Williams that was originally scheduled for April 4, the Ephs edged the Panthers, 3-2.
During Friday’s setback to Amherst, the Panthers had the tying run on base in the sixth and seventh innings, but could not plate the runner on either occasion.
Amherst jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the second.
Middlebury got one run back in the third. After junior Kat Maehr reached on an error with one out and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Carlyn Vachow knocked her in with a two-out RBI single down the right field line.
Amherst got a key insurance run during a two-out rally in the fifth inning. With a runner on first, Donna Leet singled. Ally Kido followed with a seeing-eye infield hit that was booted for an error that scored a run. The Jeffs later loaded the bases with a bunt single, but freshman pitcher Allison Quigley got out of the jam with a fly-out to left.
Trailing 3-1, Middlebury scored another run in the sixth. After a one-out double by Erin Giles, she was put out on a 6-5-2-6 fielder’s choice on a ball hit by Emma Hamilton, but Hamilton reached second during the run-down. Hye-Jin Kim plated Hamilton with a two-out RBI single through the left side to make it 3-2.
Quigley sent the Jeffs down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, but after a long hit that went just wide of the foul pole, the Amherst pitcher recorded her seventh strikeout of the game to secure the win for the Jeffs.
On Saturday, Middlebury swept a pair of games from Amherst. The Panthers came out swinging in the first contest, plating three runs in the opening inning. Sophomore Sarah Freyre connected on a key three-run double to right center with two outs, giving her team the early lead.
In the third, Giles later walked before Kim singled to right center to score Jackie Stern from second base. Hamilton followed with a base hit to left field to drive in Giles for the 5-0 advantage.
The Amherst bats came alive in the sixth, as they cut the lead to 5-2. Donna Leet reached on a bunt single and stole second, moving to third on a base hit to right by Brianna Cook. Cook stole second and Leet broke for home and put the Jeffs on the board. Caroline Sealanders later drove in Cook for Amherst’s second run.
Amherst rallied in the seventh with two outs to pull within one, but the Jeffs left the tying run on second base. Panther pitcher Neve Stearns moved to 6-2 with her first complete-game win of the season, allowing just one earned run. Gina Pagan took the loss, allowing five runs and four hits over six innings of work.
In game two, Middlebury jumped on Amherst early once again, scoring seven runs in the first three innings, including three in the first on no hits.
Amherst got on the board in the third with two runs.
Amherst’s Alena Marovi homered to straightaway center in the top of the sixth before the Panthers won the game in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the inning. With two on, Freyre singled down the right-field line to load the bases. Senior Hannah Marks came on to pinch hit, earning an RBI as she was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Quigley singled to center to drive in another run, before Christina Bicks ended the game with a two-run single to left.
Winning pitcher Quigley improved to 11-3 with the win, allowing three runs over six innings with a pair of strikeouts.
In Sunday’s makeup game, Alison Michalik singled for Williams to start the game. After stealing second, Michalik raced home on a bloop single to right by Tayler Donze for a 1-0 lead.
Williams started a two-out rally in the third, as Donze got her second single to right, later reaching second on a walk by Lexi Curt. Melissa Cendejas followed with a shot to the left side hole, but Kim knocked it down and tossed to second for the inning-ending force out.
Middlebury threatened with one out in the fourth, when Vachow got the Panthers’ first hit off Brooke Bovier beating out a close play at first. Middlebury couldn’t capitalize hitting into a classic 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The visitors earned some breathing room in the sixth, scoring a pair of runs. The Panthers rallied in the bottom of the sixth as Bicks laced a one-out double to left-center. O’Sullivan followed and was hit by Bovier. With two on, Maehr crushed a two-run double to left field, closing the gap to 3-2. The Panthers had two chances to get the equalizer to cross home, but Bovier got out of the jam with a deep fly-out to left and a foul-out.
Williams went down 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh, bringing the Panthers to bat with a chance to tie it in the final frame. After a tough sixth inning in the circle, Bovier sent Middlebury down in order, collecting her 12th win on the year.
Maehr’s two-run double highlighted the Panther day at the plate, as Bicks also added a two-bagger and Vachow had a single. Stearns went 4.0 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) with a pair of strikeouts, as Quigley tossed the final three innings, allowing one hit and no runs.
The Panthers host Plymouth State for a doubleheader on Thursday before traveling to Connecticut for the Wesleyan game on Sunday.

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