Jeffs Hold Off Middlebury in Series Opener, 4-3

Courtesy of Middlebury Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Kelsey Ayers '15 was 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored and an RBI while Donna Leet '15 went 2-for-4 and drove in three to lift the Amherst College softball team past Middlebury College, 4-3, in the opener of a three-game NESCAC West series on Friday.

Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the seventh, Middlebury (5-6, 0-1 NESCAC West) rallied to score three runs, but stranded the tying runner on third. Despite the setback Jessa Hoffman had a huge day for Middlebury, going 4-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBI.

Leet’s 2-4 day including the triple and three RBI, while Theresa Kelley (7-0) allowed three earned runs in the winning effort, striking out three and chipping in with a single of her own.

Amherst (12-3, 1-0) broke open a scoreless game in the third with two runs during a two-out rally. A pair of infield singles brought Leet to the plate, who took a low offering from Panther hurler Elizabeth Morris and launched it to the base of the centerfield wall for a two-RBI, stand-up triple.
The Jeffs added two key insurance runs in the final frame with another two-out rally. After Ashleigh Rutherford ’16 reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced to second on a wild pitch, Ayers knocked her in with an RBI single to left, advancing to second on the throw home. With first base open, Morris walked Kaitlin Silkowitz ’14, bringing Leet to the plate. Leet punched a single to center, scoring Ayers, but the sophomore was put out trying to advance to second.

Trailing 4-0, Middlebury opened the seventh with a double by Sarah Boylan, who was pulled for pinch-runner Kelsey Martel. A one-out single by Emma Katz pushed Martel to third. Kimber Sable followed with a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Martel and cutting the deficit to 4-1. After Jackie Stern drew a walk, moving Katz to second, Hoffman stepped in to face Kelley for the fourth time. Already 3-3 on the day, Hoffman slammed a double to centerfield for two RBI, setting the score at 4-3 in favor of the visitors. With clean-up hitter Jessica Poracky at the plate, Kelley launched a wild pitch, allowing Hoffman to reach third. Kelley settled in, and on a 1-1 pitch, enticed a pop foul behind home plate where Ayers made the put out, ending the Panther comeback.

Hoffman’s 4-4, two doubles, and two RBI day at the dish raised her average to .526 on the young season, while Boylan’s double was the only other extra-base hit for the Panthers. Morris (3-1) suffered her first loss, going seven innings, allowing four earned runs, while striking out four.

The teams will complete the weekend series with a doubleheader beginning at noon on Saturday.