AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College softball team fell into an early 2-0 hole against the visiting Engineers of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, but the Lord Jeffs came from behind to earn a 4-3 win Wednesday afternoon in their 2010 home opener. Amherst (6-5/0-0 NESCAC West) improved to 9-3 against WPI (8-3/0-0 NEWMAC) in the all-time series.
After the teams traded 1-2-3 innings to begin the game, the visitors jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a two-run homer to left center by first-year Erin Beaulieu. After first-year Katherine Fitton led off the inning with a double to center, Beaulieu put together an outstanding at-bat that resulted in her first long ball of the season.
WPI starting pitcher Allie Hardy held the Jeffs scoreless through three innings, but the hosts broke through with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a lead they would not relinquish. First-year Megan Kepnach (Piscataway, NJ) led off with a single to right field and would later score on an errant throw, but it was sophomore catcher Annemarie Iker (Mill Valley, CA) who provided the big hit by singling up the middle for two RBIs that handed the lead over to Amherst.
The Engineers threatened to regain the lead in the top of the fifth when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Amherst senior tri-captain Alex Chang-Graham (San Carlos, CA) came in for relief and got Fitton to send a grounder to shortstop Carly Dudzik (Darien, CT), who flipped the ball to third baseman Reilly Horan (Darien, CT) for the third out.
In the bottom of the fifth, Dudzik provided Amherst with what proved to be the winning run when a deep fly ball to center field scored senior tri-captain Jackie Tyler (Ridgewood, NJ), who had reached on a picture perfect bunt single.
Sophomore Allie Roche started a two-out rally in the top of the sixth when she drew a walk. Junior Kim Martilla kept things going with an RBI-double down the left field line, but she ended the inning when she was thrown out while trying to advance to third. Chang-Graham sat the Engineers down in order in the top of the seventh to end the game and pick up her first save of the season.
First-year Theresa Kelley (Los Angeles, CA) pitched the first 4.2 innings for Amherst, striking out three and walking one. She allowed two earned runs on only four hits to improve to 3-2 on the season. Chang-Graham walked two and allowed only one run on one hit in her 2.1 innings of relief.
Hardy allowed three runs—two earned—on five hits through 4.0 innings, dropping to 2-2 on the year with the loss. First-year Christa Coscia was responsible for Amherst's fourth run, surrendering a pair of hits to go along with one walk and one strikeout in 2.0 innings.
Senior tri-captain Emily Neill (Kentfield, CA) and Iker each went 2-for-3 for the Lord Jeffs, who had seven hits on the day. Martilla (2-for-3) was the lone Engineer with multiple hits.
The Lord Jeffs will return to action Thursday, Mar. 25, when they host Springfield College at 4 p.m. The Engineers will travel to play Springfield in a doubleheader Friday, Mar. 26, with the first game beginning at 2:30 p.m.