Softball Swept by Middlebury in Three-Game Series
By Amro El-Adle '13, Editor-in-Chief
After losing 3-2 in nine innings to Middlebury on Friday, the softball team was held scoreless for the rest of its three-game series with the Panthers and remained mired in a five-game losing streak, dropping to 13-14 overall. The Jeffs will vie against Williams in another three-game series this weekend to determine which of the two will finish second in the NESCAC West and earn a playoff berth.

With star pitcher Theresa Kelley ’13 starting for Amherst in all three of the Middlebury games, the Jeffs looked to be in good shape for her first outing of the weekend. Kelley held the Panthers, who have scored nearly twice as many runs in conference competition as the next-closest team, in check, scattering eight hits in her eight innings of work. The Jeffs lit the scoreboard first, with senior co-captain Jillian Masi rounding the bases on an error in the third.

The Panthers followed up with a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, and later went up 2-1 on an unearned run in the sixth. But co-captain Katie Kervick evened the score in the seventh with a clutch solo shot to left centerfield, and Kelley shut out the Panthers in the bottom half of the inning to send the game into extras.

Reilly Horan ’13 tripled in the eighth with one out, but with a new pitcher on the mound for the Panthers, the Jeffs failed to bring her home. After Kelley shut out Middlebury once more in the eighth, the Jeffs struck out in order in the ninth, before the Panthers doubled back-to-back to end the game in the bottom of the inning. Kelley finished with 11 strikeouts and just one walk.

“Game one was a classic pitching duel and Theresa had a gutsy performance,” Horan explained. “A hit here or a hit there, and we end up on the other side of a one-run game.”

In the nightcap, with Kelley again on the mound, Amherst tried to make its move early. A walk she earned in the fifth inning loaded the bases with Jeffs, but all three runners were eventually left stranded. The Jeffs struggled at the plate in the second game, leaving eight runners on base in managing only six singles on the game. Horan, who went 2-3, was the lone Jeff with more than one hit in the game.

After the extended game in the afternoon, Kelley lost a bit of her edge in the nightcap: the Middlebury hitters batted only .258 in the first game, but scorched her for a .333 average in the second. “I have joked before that if I could, I would want to pitch every inning of every game and this past weekend, I got my wish,” she recounted. In that second game, she surrendered a total of five runs, three of them earned, in six innings of work, as the Jeffs lost 5-0.

The Jeffs’ offensive struggles continued on Saturday, as the team was limited to only two singles by the Panthers’ pitcher, Geena Constantin in the 8-0 loss. Kelley, who leads the NESCAC in innings pitched, appearances and strikeouts by considerable margins, could not keep Middlebury’s hitters at bay in her third outing against them over the weekend, giving up eight runs (five of them unearned) and 10 hits while striking out seven. “A good hitting team like Middlebury will certainly capitalize on that, not to mention the fact that by the third game, many batters were hitting against me for the ninth or tenth time, which is a bit of a disadvantage as well.” She fell to 8-11 on the season.

The Jeffs, who last competed in the NESCAC tournament in 2006, enter their three-game series with Williams facing a team with an identical 5-4 conference record in the NESCAC West.

The teams will kick things off with a 4:15 p.m. tilt in Amherst on Friday before traveling to Williamstown on Saturday for a double-header to determine the winner of the series and the playoff berth. Horan promised that the Jeffs would be ready to face the Ephs: “By Friday we’ll be rearing to take it to Williams and honor our seniors in a fashion they deserve.”

Issue 24, Submitted 2011-04-27 03:18:35