AMHERST, MA – Theresa Kelley '13 (Los Angeles, CA) went 3-for-4, pitched 4.2 outstanding innings of relief and drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh, leading the Amherst College softball team to a crucial 7-6 win over Wesleyan University Friday afternoon. The Lord Jeffs improve to 16-12 overall and 4-2 in the NESCAC West, while the Cardinals drop to 15-13-1 (4-3 NESCAC West).
Wesleyan led 6-0 after the first inning but would not score again, while the Jeffs scored five times in the fifth and added two runs in the seventh for an impressive come-from-behind, walk-off victory. Kelley retired 10 of the last 11 batters she faced, allowing only two hits and striking out three to improve to 6-5 on the season.
Wesleyan's Meaghan Dendy '10 was lights-out for the first four innings, but she ultimately dropped to 5-6 with the complete-game loss. The senior tri-captain surrendered seven earned runs on nine hits, striking out three and walking four.
Wesleyan batted around its lineup in the top of the first inning, using six hits, an error and a sacrifice fly to jump out to an early 6-0 lead. Highlighting the Cardinals' early onslaught were RBI-doubles from Dendy and Chrissy Bello '12, with Sam Epstein '12 driving in two runs on a single up the middle.
Amherst did not put a runner on base until Kelley led off the bottom of the third with a single that was scorched into center field, but it did not lead to a run. Things started to go Amherst's way in the top of the fifth when the Cardinals were retired in order for the first time all game, with Carly Dudzik '12 (Darien, CT) ending the inning by firing a laser over to first base to beat a speedy Allee Beatty '13 by half a step.
The Jeffs carried that momentum into the bottom half of the frame when Kelley led off with a single down the left field line. Sophomore catcher Annemarie Iker (Mill Valley, CA) then brought the home bench to life with her third home run of the season, bringing Kelley around to make it a 6-2 game.
Amherst's fifth-inning rally continued with no outs when Jillian Masi '11 (Stamford, CT) walked and stole second, advancing to third on a groundout. Dudzik came through with two outs when she scored Masi on a single down the left field line, followed by Emily Neill '10 (Kentfield, CA) singling to center to put two runners on base. A wild pitch put Lord Jeffs on second and third, allowing Reilly Horan '13 (Darien, CT) to pick up a pair of clutch RBIs with a sharp single to right field. After being held to one hit through four innings, the hosts suddenly trailed by only one, 6-5.
After Kelley retired the side in order in the top of the seventh, Amherst began the home half of the frame with the heart of its order coming to the plate. Neill got things going with a one-out walk, but the Jeffs were down to their last out when Horan grounded out to second base.
Faced with a 0-1 count, Stephanie Clegg '12 (Woburn, MA) delivered a double to the fence in left center, bringing Neill around to tie things up at 6-6. Kelley then wrapped up her heroic afternoon by dropping a single into left field, allowing Clegg to sprint home for the winning run that concluded what Amherst head coach Sue Everden described as one of the most exciting games she has ever been a part of.
Kelley was the only Amherst player with multiple hits. For Wesleyan, Talia Bernstein '11, Dana Levy '12 and Tori Redding '13 each had two hits, with Epstein driving in two runs. Beatty swiped her 31st base of the season, stealing second in the first inning after she reached on an error.
Wesleyan's winless streak increased to six games (0-5-1), while the Jeffs improved to 26-9 against their Little Three rival since softball became a varsity sport at Amherst in 1995.
The Lord Jeffs and Cardinals will continue their pivotal three-game series tomorrow, with a doubleheader beginning at noon in Middletown, Conn.