In the softball regular season opener, the Judges took a trip to Framingham, Massachusetts to play the Framingham State University Rams, losing in a rather slow game for the squad.

Judges 0, Framingham State 2 

The Rams started off strong in the bottom of the first inning against Brandeis pitcher Scottie Todd ’20. Sophomore right fielder Dayna Merchant had the Rams’ first single, followed by a Brandeis error which allowed her to reach second base. This was followed by a strikeout and walk. With two Rams on base, senior first baseman Kylie Boyle smashed a grounder down the middle into the outfield, allowing Merchant to score. Luckily for the Judges, Todd shut down the next two batters to end the inning.

On offense, the Judges struggled most of the game. In the first inning infielder Marysa Masolia ’19 was able to hit a single, but after that, FSU freshman pitcher Kelsi Gunarathn went on a rampage, retiring 12 of the next 13 batters. 

In the top of the fifth the Judges showed signs of life, as right fielder Taylor Simala ’20 punched a hit to deep center field for a single followed by infielder Brianna Urena’s ’20 double. It was just too late, though, as the Judges had two outs, and the Rams managed to close out the inning before letting a Judge score. 

FSU's junior outfielder Anna Dziok smashed a homer late in the bottom of the sixth to solidify the win. They finished on top 2-0. 

Despite the unfortunate game against FSU, the Judges nonetheless managed a very successful preseason. In Florida, they finished with a 3-3 record. With a team full of first-years, several of the new Judges were able to get a sense of what it is like playing at the collegiate level. 

Todd, who just pitched against FSU, managed to secure a University Athletic Association pitcher of the week award in her first few games of  play, which were tremendously impressive. In her first game versus Middle Georgia State College, she pitched a one-run, eight-hit and no-walk game to help the Judges win the first game of the season. In her second game, she had an even more dominating performance against York College, allowing just  two hits and three walks, and collecting six strikeouts. She finished off with an impressive 0.67 ERA along with the pitcher of the week award to cap it all off. 

Last season’s trip to Florida was somewhat similar, as they had a 2-3 record when they left, but the main difference is that they are now led largely by rookies. This means the potential for overall improvement is significant.

New players will have to step up and fill the roles of other stars from last season that have already, or will soon, graduate. 

Last year, infielder Maddison Sullivan ’16 was a huge presence offensively, as she led the team in runs scored with 31, runs batted in with 35 and home runs with seven. Infielder Liana Moss ’17 led the team in batting average last year at .470, and catcher Keri Lehtonen ’19, who is now a sophomore, led the team last season in hits with 55.  The loss of Sullivan is huge for this  Judges squad.  As the team’s biggest power bat and most significant run producer, her bat will be sorely missed in the lineup.  With a shutout loss this past week, it is clear that the team is still looking to replace Sullivan’s big bat.  Moss and Lehtonen will be key factors in developing this new offensive attack for Brandeis as they look to put runs up on the board in bunches.

The Judges were 18-19 overall, and 6-4 in the UAA last season.  Even with Sullivan last year, the team still left room for improvement.  With a fresh new lineup for this spring, Brandeis will look to push itself toward a winning record and assert themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the conference.

Taking on Clark University on the road on March 18, the Judges will be hungry for a victory away from home, and it should make for an exciting game for fans to watch.