Softball: Judges earn second-place finish
Published: Saturday, May 19, 2012
Updated: Saturday, May 19, 2012 12:05
Starting pitcher Caroline Miller ’12 walked to the mound for the last time of her collegiate career on May 13 to cement her legacy. She had already done the impossible. Relegated to the consolation bracket after a loss to Endicott College, Miller led the No. 1 ranked Judges to two consecutive wins that day, including a decisive victory over the Endicott Gulls, to advance to the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference title match.
However, to win the title — their second in school history — Brandeis would once again have to best Endicott. The difference: Brandeis sent out Miller for her third start of the day. Unfortunately, the third time was not the charm. Miller surrendered two early runs in the first inning and the Judges could not recover, eventually falling 7-6 to claim second-place honors.
Miller noted she was honored that her coaches chose to stick with her as the starting pitcher until the very end of the tournament.
“The fact that my coaches and team had enough confidence in me to push through the demands of the day means more to me than words can describe,” she said.
Miller was disappointed to lose the final game of her collegiate career but also stated that she was proud to have had such a rewarding career.
“I am incredibly proud of the fight my team put up and could not have asked to end my career with a better group of girls, win or loss.”
While Endicott cruised to a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning, the Brandeis seniors would not surrender that easily. Shortstop Brittany Grimm ’12 launched a ground-rule double that landed in the right-field seats with two runners on-base to cut the edge to two runs. After the Gulls notched another run in the fifth inning, Grimm saved the game for Brandeis once again, sending an RBI single to left-center field. After exchanging two runs each in the next inning, relief pitcher Melissa Nolan ’14 sent an RBI single to center field to cut the lead to one run. The light was at the end of the tunnel – but it was not close enough. Endicott held on for the 7-6 lead and the ECAC championship.
However, just a few hours before, the Judges looked like a different squad, cruising by the Gulls in a 5-1 victory. First baseman Marianne Specker ’12 and outfielder Lauren Porcaro ’12 launched RBI singles to break the game open. After a few key errors, from the Endicott infield, Brandeis pulled away for the win.
Miller sealed one of the most memorable wins of her career in the Judges’ first game against Simmons College when she struck out 11 batters in a 3-1 win. Brandeis jumped on the scoreboard in the first inning after an RBI single from third baseman Anya Kamber ’15. Second baseman Leah McWilliams ’14 bolted home on a groundout from Specker to add some insurance runs in the sixth inning. Porcaro also sent an RBI single into right field to extend the lead to 3-0.
On May 12, Endicott pulled off the upset of the weekend. The Judges looked to cruise into the finals as the top seed in the tournament, but the Gulls blasted four home runs en route to a 6-1 victory. While Miller conceded two runs in the first inning, the Judges cut the lead to one run on a sacrifice fly from Grimm. The RBI marked the 100th of her career. From there, Miller looked lost. She surrendered another three home runs to put the game, and the championship, seemingly out of reach for the Brandeis women.
The Judges kicked off the tournament with two decisive victories In the first game of last Saturday’s doubleheader, the Judges would start off the scoring with an RBI single from Porcaro. After struggling to break through in the second and third innings, Brandeis earned four runs in the fifth inning. However, the scoring came from a lack of control. The Judges benefited from three walks with the bases loaded. Heading into the top of the seventh inning, Brandeis held a comfortable 7-1 lead. However, things got shaky for Nolan, as she surrendered four runs in the frame before eventually pulling through with the victory.
The Judges started off the weeklong event with a 7-1 blowout of Daniel Webster College. Miller shined again, fanning 11 batters and surrendering only three hits in seven innings. Miller and left-fielder Megan DeNubila ’12 launched RBI doubles to put the Judges on the scoreboard in the first inning. DeNubila, Grimm and Porcaro all contributed to the win with RBI singles.
Miller stated that the No. 1 seed posed demanding challenges for the team, but yet, she was impressed by the squad’s perseverance throughout the tournament.
“Being the No.1 seed means everyone is coming for you,” she said.
“The team put ourselves at the top from the beginning, and while we had a rough outing Saturday afternoon, we came back stronger then ever Sunday and pushed through a demanding 21 innings."