Sports

Softball starts off season 2-3 in North Carolina tourney

First-years contribute power and pitching to turn weekend around with narrow victories Saturday

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Monday, March 3, 2014

After falling in three straight games to open a tournament at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington this weekend, the softball team roared back with two thrilling, one-run victories.

Bucknell dropped the Bears 12-3 Friday morning in Bruno’s season-opener, but Brown (2-3) exacted revenge Saturday afternoon with an extra-inning 10-9 victory over the Bison. Wilmington and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro each topped the Bears in their first meetings. But Bruno met Wilmington (8-7) again Saturday night, pulling out a 7-6 victory.

Bruno looked rusty in its first day of competition, falling to Bucknell (2-7) in a game shortened by the eight-run mercy rule. Casey Fisher ’17, the first Bear to step to the plate this season, gave the squad an optimistic start. The Bucknell third baseman’s throwing error allowed the Bruno leadoff hitter to race all the way to third base. Next batter Janet Leung ’16 lifted a ball to right field, allowing Fisher to score on the sacrifice fly and giving Brown its first run of the year. But this early lead would be the only momentum the Bears could muster, as Bucknell used rallies in the third and sixth inning to open up a comfortable lead. The only other Brown runs came in the fourth, when Jen Kries ’14 scored on another sacrifice fly following a double and Fisher singled in Danielle Palms ’14.

Starting pitcher Leah Nakashima ’17 was roughed up in her first collegiate start on the rubber. The first-year took the loss after surrendering five earned runs in 3.2 innings.

Bruno fared better in its next game but ended with another defeat, falling 4-3 to UNC-Wilmington. The Bears plated all three of their runs in the top of the third inning. Christina Andrews ’17 went the distance in the circle, giving up just three earned runs in her first collegiate start. Julia Schoenewald ’17 did the damage at the dish for the Bears. Trailing 3-0 with the bases loaded in the top of the third, Schoenewald drove a double to right field, scoring Leung and Kristin Watterlond ’14. Kries followed her up with a sacrifice fly to score Andrews and tie the game. But in the bottom of the third, the Seahawks’ Nella Chamblee walked and came around to score the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly. The teams played the final four innings locked in a scoreless stalemate and Wilmington prevailed, 4-3.

The Bears’ rough weekend continued Saturday morning against Greensboro (8-8), as Bruno was shut out in a 4-0 game. Greensboro hurler Raeanna Hanks threw a complete game gem, striking out three Bears and allowing only four hits.

But Brown turned it around later in the day with its first win of the season, defeating Bucknell 10-9. The game started like the teams’ previous game, with the Bison exploding to a 5-1 lead after three innings. But Bruno crept back into the game with consistent offensive production, scoring in every inning after the second. Schoenewald flashed her power in the fifth with a two-run home run. Bruno overtook the Bison with a two-out rally in the top of the sixth. With the game tied, two outs and two on, All-Ivy shortstop Leung came through for the Bears, lacing a two-RBI double to left center. Fisher picked up Leung with a single of her own. After another run in the top of the seventh, Bruno held a comfortable 9-5 lead with three outs to get.

In the bottom of the seventh, it was Bucknell’s turn to storm back. The Bison tallied four runs on five hits and one Bruno error to tie the contest and send it into extra innings. According to tournament rules, a runner was placed on second to start each half inning after seven innings. So with Leung on second to start the top of the eighth, Bruno caught a break when a throwing error advanced her to third.

After a Schoenewald strikeout, Andrews played hero for the Bears, singling in Leung for the go-ahead run. The drama was not over as Bucknell moved the tying run to third with one out in the bottom of the eighth, but pitcher Jessica Cherness ’15 slammed the door with a strikeout and a fly out to end the game.

Bruno’s Sunday action had similar dramatics and success for the Bears, as the squad held off a late Wilmington rally to win 7-6. Cherness allowed only one hit over the first three innings, but was doomed by errors and walks, and the Bears trailed 3-0 after three. A Sarah Syrop ’17 RBI single put Bruno on the board in the fourth, but the Bears did most of their damage in the sixth. Brown plated five in the top half of the sixth thanks to three Wilmington errors.

With a 7-4 lead entering the bottom of the last inning, Bruno looked to be headed to another victory, until Seahawk Claudia Spinelli’s two-out, two-RBI double cut the lead to 7-6. But the Bears alertly got the ball back into the infield following the double, and Spinelli was caught between second and third. Andrews tagged the Wilmington runner to end the game.

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