MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – The Wesleyan University softball team rallied from a four-run, second-inning hole during a 9-5 win in Game 1 against Hamilton on Saturday, but then the Continentals responded with a 7-4 victory in the series finale during Game 2 at the Wesleyan Softball Field in Middletown, Conn.
The Cardinals (14-13, 2-6 NESCAC West Division) are now in a three-way tie with Hamilton (11-18, 2-6) and Middlebury (13-10, 2-6) for the third slot in the NESCAC West Division standings, as the top-four teams from each division qualify for the conference tournament. Each of the three teams have four conference games remaining, as Wesleyan and Middlebury will square off in a pivotal three-game series on Friday and Saturday in Middlebury, Vt.
Prior to the start of Saturday's doubleheader, the Cardinals honored their two outstanding senior captains in Julie McDonald and Rielly Wieners. The two leaders were a part of a 21-win team as sophomores in 2016, and McDonald leads the 2018 team in ERA (2.12) and strikeouts (70). Wieners ranks first on the squad with two home runs, and has also tallied 15 RBIs.
GAME 1 HIGHLIGHTS (Wesleyan 9, Hamilton 5):
- The Cardinals were facing a four-run hole heading into the bottom of the second, but then Wieners and freshman Marina Williams (3-for-4, two runs, RBI) scored with no outs, cutting the deficit to 4-2.
- In the third, Wesleyan rattled off another three runs, as freshman Danielle Rinaldi led off with a triple down the left-field line, and then scored two at-bats later on an RBI single through the right side by Williams. Freshman Maddie Ikeda (1-for-3, triple, four RBIs) drew a two-out walk with the bases loaded, and Williams touched home, evening the game at 4-4. Next up was junior Olivia Gorman, and the Lower Gwynedd, Pa. native put the squad in front for the first time with an RBI single up the middle.
- The Continentals evened the score at 5-5 on an unearned run with one down by senior Phoebe Collins (2-for-4, double, run) in the fourth, but the Cardinals took complete control of the game with a four-run effort in the bottom of the inning. Freshman Brenna Monroe tallied the game-winning RBI single down the right-field line, as Rinaldi crossed home, and then with two down, Ikeda slammed a bases-clearing, three-run triple to right, putting the squad up 9-5.
- Hamilton raced out to an early 3-0 lead in the first on RBI bunt singles by juniors Liz Brautigam (2-for-4, RBI) and Helen Lin, and then Lin scored on a wild pitch with two outs. The visitors extended the cushion to 4-0 on a two-out RBI double to left-center by sophomore Kendall Searcy (2-for-4, double, RBI, run) in the second.
- Wieners (2-for-2, run) and sophomore Rachel Curran (2-for-2, run) played well for the hosts.
- Rinaldi (6-5) earned the complete-game win on the mound for Wesleyan, striking out 11 batters, while giving up four earned runs on 11 hits in seven innings. Each team finished with 11 hits.
GAME 2 HIGHLIGHTS (Hamilton 7, Wesleyan 4):
- In Game 2, the Continentals claimed a 2-0 advantage in the first, as sophomores Caitlin Berreitter (2-for-5, double, two runs, RBI) and Emily Fraser crossed home with unearned runs.
- The Continentals pushed the lead up to 3-0 in the third on a two-out RBI single by junior Ashleah Yzaguirre through the right side, which scored Fraser, who originally reached base on an error by the shortstop.
- Wesleyan's lineup found its rhythm in the third, highlighted by a two-run double to left-center by Monroe (2-for-3, double, two RBIs, run), scoring Rinaldi (3-for-4, run) and McDonald with two outs. Monroe, who hails from Southwick, Mass., then crossed home plate on a wild pitch, knotting the game at 3-3.
- Berreitter lined an RBI double to left-center with one down in the fourth, scoring Collins, and then Berreitter scored one at-bat later, thanks to an RBI single up the middle by Searcy (2-for-4, RBI, run). Searcy and Fraser then tallied a pair of unearned runs with two down, as the lead ballooned up to 7-3 for Hamilton.
- Junior Kendall Carr recorded an RBI by the way of a fielder's choice in the bottom of the seventh, as Wieners crossed home from third to conclude the scoring.
- Junior Dez DePaulis (4-7) was awarded the win on the mound, as she only gave up one earned run on four hits in 4 1/3 innings of relief work.
- The Cardinals will travel to Amherst, Mass., to take on the Mammoths in a NESCAC West Division matchup on Wednesday at 5 p.m.