Neill's Two-Run Homer Leads Amherst to 2-0 Win Over Springfield

AMHERST, MA - The Amherst College softball team played host to local rival Springfield College in a mid-week non-conference tilt this afternoon. The Lord Jeffs scored a pair of runs in the fourth inning and held on for a 2-0 win. The result improves Amherst's record to 7-5 on the year, while Springfield falls to 4-7 overall.

For the first three and a half innings of the game, Amherst's Alex Chang-Graham (San Carlos, CA) and Springfield's Megan Fitzgerald were engaged squarely in a pitcher's duel. The pair had combined to give up just three hits and no runs heading into the home half of the fourth inning.

In the bottom of the fourth, Amherst sophomore Carly Dudzik (Darien, CT) lined a lead-off double down the third base line. That brought up senior Emily Neill (Kentfield, CA) with a runner in scoring position, and put some pressure on Fitzgerald for the first time all day. Neil came through with a towering two-run homer to the left-center power alley. 

In the top of the sixth inning, Springfield's Chelsea Bender singled through the left side of the infield after a long at-bat to lead off the frame. After Bender stole second, she advanced to third on a line drive by Kelly Blake that hit Chang-Graham on the mound. The play set up first and third with one out, before Blake stole second to put two players in scoring position. The Amherst hurler got Michelle Wlosek to pop out to Dudzik at shortstop for the second out. The final out of the inning came as Bryn Warrilow  put a charge in the ball, only to see the liner head straight into for Neill's glove at second base.

In the bottom of the seventh, Chang-Graham started the frame off by getting Amanda Novak to chop a soft liner off the end of the bat to first base for an out. Springfield's Caitlin Corry then hit a bases-empty double over Theresa Kelley (Los Angeles, CA) in left field. Liz Milly moved Corry to third on a groundout, but after Springfield's Melanie Scuderi came to the plate as a pinch hitter, Chang-Graham induced a harmless groundout to end the game.

Neill's two-run blast proved to be enough for Chang-Graham (3-3), who pitched seven innings for the complete-game, five-hit shutout win. Chang-Graham had two strikeouts and no walks in the effort. Fitzgerald (1-2) held Amherst to just five hits in 6.0 innings in the loss.  

Neill finished the day 3-for-3 for the Lord Jeffs with both of the team's RBIs, while Christina Anderson (Port St. Lucie, FL) and Dudzik had Amherst's other two hits. Springfield had five players finish the day 1-for-3 in the loss.

The Lord Jeffs will return to action Saturday afternoon when Keene State College comes to town for a doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.