Parts of Recap Courtesy of Middlebury Athletic Communications Office
MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – The Wesleyan University softball team dropped a pair of games to host Middlebury by scores of 4-1 and 8-3 on Saturday afternoon, but the Cardinals did clinch a playoff berth into the 2018 NESCAC Tournament, which will begin on Friday, May 4.
The top-four teams from the East and West Divisions qualify for the conference tournament, and the Cardinals (14-15, 2-8 NESCAC West Division) secured the No. 4 seed in the West Division due to the fact that Hamilton (11-22, 2-10 NESCAC West Division) was swept in a three-game series by Amherst on Friday and Saturday. Even in the event that both the Cardinals and the Continentals finish with a 2-10 conference record, the Cardinals would be awarded the tiebreaker due to a 2-1 record in head-to-head matchups.
The Cardinals and Panthers (18-10, 5-6 NESCAC West Division) will conclude their three-game series on Sunday at noon in Middlebury, Vt., and then Wesleyan will travel to Amherst College for a 5 p.m. conference matchup on Monday.
In Game 1, Olivia Bravo was hit by a pitch to lead off the first for the Panthers. One batter later, Allison Quigley singled to left, while Melanie Mandell reached on a fielder's choice, as Bravo was put out at third. Liza Tarr was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Taylor Gardner, who singled to left to drive in Quigley.
The Cardinals threatened in the fifth, loading the bases before Ali Della Volpe made a nice running catch in center to end the inning.
Middlebury rallied for three runs on three hits in the sixth to go ahead 4-1. Gardner singled, Emily Morris walked and Kati Daczkowski singled to right to load the bases. Della Volpe drove in Gardner with a tough-luck fielder's choice to center, making it a 2-1 game. One batter later, Emily Moore tripled down the right-field line, plating Della Volpe and Daczkowski.
Quigley threw five strong innings for the Panthers, allowing one run on five hits. Emily Morris (9-7) picked up the win, allowing just one hit over two innings.
Moore tallied 2-for-4 performance with a double, triple and two RBIs for the hosts, while Gardner and Daczkowski each went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Trailing 1-0 in Game 2, Middlebury tied the game in the third inning when Moore belted a homer to right field. Quigley followed with a double, and Mandell moved her to third on a base hit to left. Gardner drove in Quigley with a sacrifice fly to left, making it a 2-1 game.
The Panthers scored two more runs in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Moore, plating Bravo, who had tripled to left. Mandell was hit by a pitch and scored when Gardner doubled down the left-field line, giving her team a 4-1 lead.
The hosts took an 8-1 lead in the fifth with four runs on three hits. Bravo drew a bases-loaded walk, Moore drove in a run with an infield single, before Della Volpe scored on a wild pitch. Bravo later crossed the plate on an RBI ground out.
Following a 30-minute rain delay, the teams returned to action in the top of the sixth inning. Six outs later, the Cardinals scored a pair of unearned runs in the seventh for the 8-3 final.
Morris (10-7) picked up her second win of the day, allowing one earned run and four hits over seven innings. Moore went 2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs, while Quigley went 2-for-4 with a double.
Danielle Rinaldi (6-6) suffered the loss in 3 2/3 innings of work, allowing four runs and seven hits. Gorman paced the Cardinals hitters, going 2-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored.