Jeffs Split Conference Doubleheader with Middlebury

AMHERST, MA – Middlebury College used 13 hits to earn an 8-2 win over Amherst College in game one of Saturday's NESCAC West softball doubleheader, but Alex Chang-Graham '10 (San Carlos, CA) pitched a six-hit shutout in the nightcap to lead the Lord Jeffs to a 3-0 victory. Amherst moves to 9-7 overall and 1-2 in conference play, while Middlebury is now 11-6 (2-1 NESCAC West). 

Ali McAnaney '11 allowed seven hits and two earned runs to earn the complete-game victory for the Panthers, striking out two and walking a pair to improve to 4-2. Chang-Graham returned the favor in the second game, moving her record to 5-4 with her third shutout of the season. 

First-year Jessa Hoffman set the tone for Middlebury in the first game by driving a triple to right field in the first at-bat of the afternoon, later scoring on an Amherst throwing error. Emily Burbridge '11 also tripled in the inning to drive in a run, followed by an RBI-groundout by Alyson Downing '12 and an Ali McAnaney '11 single that chased Lord Jeff starting pitcher Theresa Kelley '13 (Los Angeles, CA) from the game. The Panthers scored four runs in the first inning and never relinquished the lead. 

The visitors added a fifth run in the fourth inning when Sarah Boylan '13 ripped a two-out double off the fence in left field and later scored on a Hoffman single through the left side. Middlebury added its final three runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by a Hoffman RBI-triple down the right field line and a Megan Margel '11 two-RBI single. Hoffman and Nellie Wood '11 each had three hits for the Panthers, while Margel went 2-for-3. 

Amherst got its first run in the bottom of the third inning when a rally was started by Jillian Masi '11 (Stamford, CT), who led off with a single up the middle. After a Jackie Tyler '10 (Ridgewood, NJ) sacrifice bunt and a Carly Dudzik '12 (Darien, CT) walk, senior tri-captain Emily Neill (Kentfield, CA) delivered a single to right field. It looked as though Neill's hit would load the bases, but Dudzik purposefully got caught in a rundown in between second and third, which allowed Masi to score. 

The Jeffs added another when first-years Christina Anderson (Port St. Lucie, FL) and Megan Kepnach (Piscataway, NJ) hit back-to-back singles and later advanced to second and third on a wild pitch. Masi then hit a sacrifice fly to left field, allowing Anderson to score on a close play at the plate to make it a 5-2 game. Anderson went 2-for-3 in the game, while Chang-Graham and Masi each went 1-for-1. 

Kelley picked up the loss to fall to 3-3, surrendering two earned runs on three hits in two-thirds of an inning. Anderson allowed three runs in 4.2 innings of relief, while Chang-Graham closed things out for Amherst by allowing one run in the final 1.2 innings. 

In the nightcap, Middlebury nearly jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first when Jessica Poracky '13 singled through the left side of the infield. Kira Gordon '12 was waved around third base, but she was gunned down at the plate by a perfect throw from Kelley in left field. The Panthers were denied their first run, and Chang-Graham shut them down the rest of the way. 

All three of Amherst's runs came in the bottom of the fourth inning. Geena Constantin '11 had a no-hitter going after three complete innings for the second time in as many days, but Dudzik ignited a rally with a one-out single down the right field line. Stephanie Clegg '12 (Woburn, MA) broke the scoreless tie when she dropped a two-run single in between the Panthers' shortstop and left fielder in her first at-bat of the afternoon. 

Clegg would score Amherst's third and final run when Chang-Graham laced a sharp single into center field, and the Amherst ace took care of the rest to help the Jeffs earn their first conference win. Constantin went 2-for-3 as the only player from either team with multiple hits in the second game, also picking up the loss on the mound to drop to 4-3. Constantin struck out seven and walked three in six innings, surrendering three earned runs on six hits. 

The Lord Jeffs will return to action Monday, Apr. 5, when they host Keene State College in a non-conference doubleheader. The first game is set to begin at 3:30 p.m. with live statistics available.