Jeffs Defeat WNEC, 9-4, for Fifth Straight Win

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College softball team took on Western New England College this afternoon in a single non-conference tilt at home. Amherst scored nine runs on 13 hits and held on for a 9-4 win despite a trio of fielding errors on the day. The win improves Amherst to 8-5 on the year, while WNEC falls to 6-9 overall. 

Amherst starting pitcher Alex Chang-Graham (San Carlos, CA) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but saw a Lauren Arsenault fly to the warning track in right break up the bid. Chang-Graham sat down the Golden Bears in order in each of the first three innings before getting into trouble in the fourth. 

The Amherst bats wasted no time getting hot, with sophomore Carly Dudzik (Darien, CT) starting a rally with a two-out walk in the home half of the first. Reilly Horan (Darien,CT) brought Dudzik home on a line-drive hit to left-center, before rookie Theresa Kelley (Los Angeles, CA) cleared the bases with a two-run homer to left field. 

In the top of the fourth inning, the Golden Bears had five straight batters reach base to bring home a run on a Jeana Luongo grounder through the right side. An error by the Amherst infield and three straight fielder's choices set the stage in the frame, as WNEC closed the gap to 3-1 on Luongo's grounder. 

Amherst responded in the bottom of the fifth inning, stretching its lead to 7-1 on another rally started by Dudzik. The second-year shortstop hit a lead-off double off the right-field fence, before eventually coming home to score on a passed ball. During the ensuing rally, Horan scored on a single by Annemarie Iker (Mill Valley, CA) and pinch-runner Joni Hirsch (Williamstown, MA) scored on a wild pitch. The rally was capped when senior tri-captain Jackie Tyler (Ridgewood, NJ) drove a double through the middle to score Samantha Presnal (Belchertown, MA). 

WNEC grabbed one run back in the top of the sixth when a Luongo double to left field scored Arsenault. The Golden Bears ultimately had one runner left on base when Chang-Graham struck out Kate Post looking for the third out. The Jeffs nearly ended the game in the bottom of the sixth, stringing together three hits for another pair of runs to take a 9-2 lead. 

WNEC made a pair of offensive substitutions in the top of the seventh inning, and despite putting together three straight hits to plate another pair of runs, Amherst held on for the 9-4 win.

On the day, the middle of Amherst's lineup made the difference. Batting three through five, Dudzik, Horan and Kelley combined to bat 7-for-10 with four RBIs and seven runs-scored. Aresenault, Longo, Ashley Stolarik and Rachel Wyrwa each had one hit for the Golden Bears in the loss. 

Chang-Graham (4-3) went the distance for Amherst, allowing five hits and four runs (three earned) with a trio of strikeouts and no walks in 7.0 innings of work. Rachelle Fecteau (0-3) lasted 4.0 innings for WNEC, surrendering five hits, three earned runs with three walks, before giving way to Meagan Reimann. Riemann and Alyssa Obin each pitched one inning, but combined to give up another eight hits and six runs for the Golden Bears.

Amherst will return to action tomorrow, opening up a two-day, three-game series against Middlebury at home at 5 p.m. Saturday's doubleheader against the Panthers will begin at 12 p.m.