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Middlebury College softball stays alive for the playoffs

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College softball team kept its postseason hopes alive this past weekend by sweeping three games from NESCAC West rival Hamilton (10-22, 3-9 league), and also picked up a pair of non-league wins on Monday.
The Panthers improved to 18-8, 4-4 in league play. The league mark does not include a suspended game in which they led host Amherst, 9-6, after five innings.
As it stands now, Williams is in first place in NESCAC West at 7-2, while Amherst is 5-3, ahead of the Panthers in third place at 4-4. Amherst won two of three games in that series and would own a tiebreaker if the teams finished with identical league marks. The Panthers conclude their league schedule this Friday and Saturday with three games at Williams, while Amherst faces Wesleyan (4-5), once at home and twice on the road.
On this past Friday, Middlebury won the opener vs. Hamilton, 4-0, as Neve Stearns (4-5) threw a complete-game shutout, giving up seven hits and four walks and striking out two.
Middlebury scored three runs in the second. Siobhan O’Sullivan and Erin Giles singled, and a Hye-Jin Kim double plated the first run. Kat Maehr and Kati Daczkowski added run-scoring hits.
The Panthers added a run in the sixth when Alli Della Volpe was hit by a pitch and later scored on an illegal pitch. O’Sullivan finished with three hits, while Giles had two.
On Saturday, the Panthers pounded out 12-7 and 13-9 victories.
In game one, the contest remained scoreless until the bottom of the third, when the Panthers exploded for nine runs on six hits and were aided by an error and two walks. In the inning, Taylor Gardner poked a two-run double, Maehr worked a bases-loaded walk, while O’Sullivan, Della Volpe and Daczkowski added RBI singles. Emma Hamilton chipped in a sacrifice fly.
The Panthers made it 10-0 in the fourth, with the key hit a Giles single.
Hamilton scored four runs on three hits and two Panther miscues in the top of the fifth, and a bases-loaded double in the sixth made it 10-7. Kim and Maehr poked RBI hits in the Panther sixth.
Allison Quigley picked up the win, allowing four runs, one earned, on five hits with a pair of strikeouts in 4.1 innings. Irene Margiotta pitched the final 2.2 innings, giving up three runs on three hits.
In the nightcap, the Panthers fell behind, 5-3, in the fourth, but scored four in the fourth and five in the fifth to lead by 12-6.
Carlyn Vachow poked four hits, scored twice and drove in a run; Hamilton singled twice, doubled, scored twice and drove in a pair; Daczkowski had three hits, scored three times and drove in a run; Giles homered, singled, and drove in two runs; while Sarah Freyre and Jackie Stern also had multi-hit games.
Stearns pitched the first 3.2 innings, allowing five runs on nine hits. Quigley relieved and earned the win, surrendering four runs in 2.2 innings. Margiotta recorded the final two outs for her first career save.
   PANTHER OUTFIELDER SIOBHAN O’Sullivan scoops up a blooper to center field during game one of a doubleheader against St. Joseph Monday.
Independent photo/Trent Campbell
On Monday, the Panthers swept visiting St. Josephs of Rutland, 12-4 and 9-8. The Saints dropped to 21-11.
In the opener, Middlebury amassed 15 hits and scored in every inning. Margiotta earned the win to improve to 5-2, allowing four runs in six innings. The Saints led, 4-2, after scoring twice in the third, but a Hamilton homer helped Middlebury tie the game in the bottom of the inning. The Panthers took the lead in the fifth and clinched the win with a six-run sixth.
Hamilton finished with three hits, three runs scored and a pair of runs driven in. Stern poked two hits with an RBI and two runs scored, while O’Sullivan had two hits with a pair of RBIs and a run. Gardner had two hits and two RBIs and scored twice, while Maehr drove in two runs with a pair of hits, and Aly Doll scored three runs scored.
In the nightcap, the Panthers score three times in the bottom of the seventh to erase an 8-6 Saint lead. Hamilton singled to start the rally and scored on a Freyre sacrifice fly, and Stern drove in the tying run on a fielder’s choice. The Panthers loaded the bases, and with two outs and a full count, Daczkowski singled home the winning run.
Quigley (8-1) earned the win with 1.1 innings of scoreless relief of Lane Dikeman and Stearns.
Hamilton again had three hits, scoring twice, driving in a run and extending her hitting streak to 16 games. Daczkowski had two hits, two RBIs and a run scored; Stern had two hits, an RBI and a run; and Gardner also had two hits with two RBIs.

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