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Sunday walk-offs lead to series split

The women's softball team hosted Ivy League rival Dartmouth for two doubleheaders this weekend. The Bears dropped both Saturday games to the Big Green (10-15, 3-7 Ivy), but regained focus and came back with two walk-off victories, 5-4 and 4-3, the following day. Bruno (8-20, 5-7 Ivy) is currently in second place in the Ivy North Division. 

Game one began with four scoreless innings Saturday. Dartmouth broke through with two runs in the fifth inning and then another run in the sixth to take a 3-0 lead. But the Bears responded strongly in the bottom of the inning with a pair of two-run home runs from rookie Kelsey Hom '15 and Stephanie Thompson '13 to give Bruno a 4-3 lead. With one inning left to play, it looked as if the Bears were set to win, but the Big Green rallied and tallied three runs in the top of the seventh to take a two-run lead. In Brown's final at-bat, the team loaded the bases but could not drive home the tying run, losing 6-4.

Dartmouth gained the early advantage in game two, scoring four runs in the first inning. The Bears responded by tallying three runs in the bottom of the third, but the Dartmouth batters hit four home runs in the next three innings to gain an 8-3 lead. The Big Green then tacked on three more runs in the top of the seventh to secure the 11-3 win.  

"We simply didn't recover mentally from the devastating game one loss and because of that, we were not in the second game," said Head Coach Deedee Enabenter-Omidiji. "We had that 'never say die' attitude but fell just short with the bases loaded. I'm proud of the way we fight back late in the games, but unfortunately we are waiting too long to make adjustments at the plate."

But the Bears were able to make those adjustments Sunday and came away with two wins over the Big Green to earn a series split.

"We came out more aggressive and our pitchers knew what to expect," said designated hitter Alyssa Caplan '13. "We were also a lot more focused." 

In the first game, Caplan's walk-off double in the bottom of the seventh gave Brown the 5-4 victory.  

"When (Caplan) stepped to the plate, we felt really confident because we always considered her a clutch hitter," Enabenter-Omidiji said. "And she came through again."

First baseman Kate Strobel '12 set the tone at the plate in the bottom of the first by leading the Bears off with a home run. The Bears sat on a 1-0 lead but then fell behind 4-1. Strobel then hit a double to right-center to bring in Jen Kries '14. The Big Green intentionally walked Thompson, and Danielle Palms '14 hit a grounder to score Avery Silverstein '13, which evened the score at four. Caplan's double brought in Thompson to break the deadlock and gave the Bears a 5-4 win.

Bruno carried its streak of solid play into game two. The Bears jumped out to a 3-0 lead by the second inning, but Dartmouth tied the score by the top of the fifth. A single by Thompson in the bottom of the seventh brought home Strobel to earn Bruno a 4-3 win and its second walk-off victory of the day.

Enabenter-Omidji said she was happy with the team's play on Sunday and pointed out the role of the bench in both wins.

"Although we felt like the series got away from us in the first game on Saturday, we were excited about the Sunday wins because some positive things came from it," Enabenter-Omidiji said. "Our bench made a huge contribution for us. ... The players coming off the bench just don't occupy space - they study the hitting charts and pay close attention to what's going on. In addition, they are antsy to get in the game and help the team. They stayed involved in the game and made timely contributions."

"Jen Kries and Misa Wong ('15) came off the bench and got hits in clutch situations," Caplan said.

Enabenter-Omidji also acknowledged the strong performances of the pitchers throughout the weekend.

"I want to commend the pitching efforts of Jess Cherness ('14) and Denise van der Goot ('15)," Enabenter-Omidiji said. "It's tough facing hitters in a four-game series, and they made some very good adjustments. In addition, super utility Erika Mueller ('13) did an outstanding job behind the plate handling the young pitching staff." 

With only three series left, Bruno is looking to close out its season on a high note.

"Sunday's games were super exciting," Caplan said. "So these give us good momentum going into the next few games."

The Bears will travel next to Cambridge, Mass. to play first-place Harvard (24-10, 11-1) in doubleheaders April 21 and 22. 

"We hope to remain positive going into our series with a very tough Harvard (team)," Enabenter-Omidiji said. "We want to bring that fighting attitude to Cambridge on Saturday and see what happens."


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