Panther softball tops Cardinals, nets playoff berth

MIDDLEBURY — The Middlebury College softball team swept a doubleheader from NESCAC West rival Wesleyan on Saturday, 4-1 and 8-3. 
Middlebury finished it’s NESCAC schedule at 18-10, 5-6 in league play, a record good enough to qualify for the No. 3 NESCAC West seed in the new league playoff format. Wesleyan dropped to 14-15.
Middlebury will open the single-elimination, three-day tournament, to be hosted by NESCAC West top seed Amherst, on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. vs. Bowdoin, the NESCAC East No. 2 seed. The tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. Middlebury and Bowdoin (29-11, 9-3 NESCAC East) did not meet this season.
In the first game vs. Wesleyan this past Saturday the Panthers snapped a 1-1 tie with three runs in the sixth. The first run scored on singles by Taylor Gardner and Kati Daczkowski, a walk to Emily Morris and an Ali Della Volpe fielder’s choice, and Emily Moore capped the rally with a two-run triple. Gardner singled in Allison Quigley in the first inning for the other Panther run.
Morris earned the win with two innings of scoreless relief. Quigley allowed one run on five hits over the first five innings. 
Wesleyan took an early 1-0 lead in the nightcap, but Middlebury took the lead in the third when Moore homered and Gardner plated Quigley, who had doubled and moved up on a Melanie Mandell single.
An Olivia Bravo triple and Quigley double keyed the Panthers’ two-run fourth, and the Panthers made it 8-1 with a four-run fifth on three hits. Bravo drew a bases-loaded walk, Moore drove in a run with an infield single, Della Volpe scored on a wild pitch, and Bravo came home on an RBI groundout.
Morris (10-7) picked up the win, allowing one earned run and four hits over seven innings.
The Panthers had a non-league doubleheader vs. Lyndon scheduled for Wednesday after the deadline for this sports section.

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