Red-Hot Horan Leads Jeffs to Sweep of MCLA

Contact: Matthew Hart

AMHERST, Mass. – Second baseman Reilly Horan ’13 went a combined 5-for-6 with four doubles, eclipsing the 100-RBI plateau for her career as she led the Amherst College softball team to a non-conference doubleheader sweep of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts on Wednesday. Improving to 21-9 on the year, the Jeffs took the opener 10-2 in five innings before a 4-1 triumph in the nightcap.

The Amherst pitching staff was sharp all day, surrendering just six hits across the two games as the Trailblazers fell to 10-18. Caroline Sealander ’15 earned the win and also homered for the hosts in Game One before Theresa Kelley ’13 and Arielle Doering ’14 combined to outduel MCLA’s Rachel Quackenbush in the nightcap.

Horan led the charge in the opener, going 3-for-3 with two doubles as she drove in three and scored each time she reached. Sealander worked four innings, scattering two hits without an earned run before blasting a two-run homer in the fourth to put Amherst up by eight. Brianna Cook ’16 also drove in a pair for the hosts while Sarah McKay ’16 added an RBI. Rayelle Pierson took the loss for the Trailblazers, with Kendra Hobbs, Megan Boyer and Shelbi Clary picking up the only MCLA hits.

Amherst grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Horan doubled and scampered to third on an error before racing home on a double-steal play after Cook drew a walk. The Trailblazers responded in the third, however, with Boyer drawing a leadoff walk before Hobbs ripped a two-out double to put a pair in scoring position. Sealander induced a fly to left-center off the bat of Amanda Meczywor, but the ball glanced off the glove of Kaitlin Silkowitz ’14 for a two-base error and an MCLA lead.

The Jeffs broke it open with five in the bottom half, however, as Kelsey Ayers ’15 popped a leadoff triple to right then scored on another double-steal following a Silkowitz walk. After Donna Leet ’15 grounded out and Carolyn Miller ’14 walked, Horan laced an RBI double and Cook plated two more with a single up the middle. With two down, McKay capped the frame with an RBI knock to right-center.

Amherst tallied four more in the fourth to reach the eight-run mercy rule as Silkowitz doubled, Leet wore a pitch, and both came around to score on Horan’s third hit of the contest, a single which marked her hundredth and 101st career RBI. With one down, Sealander gave herself a 10-2 cushion as she blasted a two-run lined shot over the wall in left for her fourth dinger of the year. With Nicolette Miranda ’16 coming on for Amherst in the fifth, MCLA loaded the bases with two down, but the first-year induced a comebacker to end the contest early.

Pitching was the story in the nightcap as Kelley tossed five innings of one-run ball, striking out nine and walking one before Doering fanned three over two perfect frames for the save. Quackenbush took the loss after six solid innings of work, surrendering three earned runs while striking out five and walking one. With two more doubles, Horan was the only player with multiple hits as Clary homered for the Trailblazers’ lone run.

Amherst picked up an unearned run in the first as Leet was hit by a pitch with two down then came in to score when Horan’s grounder to second was thrown away. With both Kelley and Quackenbush dealing, Clary tied it for the Trailblazers in the third as she ripped a one-out drive just beyond the wall in right-center for her first collegiate homer.

Ayers showcased her speed to put the Jeffs in front 2-1 in the bottom half, legging out an infield single before stealing second, advancing to third on Silkowitz’s groundout, and racing home on a wild pitch. After Horan’s third double of the day, Amherst nearly scored another, but MCLA’s Michaela DiNicola cut down the senior at the plate with a strong throw from right on Cook’s single.

After five strong innings from Kelley, Doering came on in the sixth and, in between scoreless innings on the mound, helped her own cause as she drove in Cook and Miller with a one-out double to the wall in right center.

Amherst will return to NESCAC West play this weekend with a three-game set against Little III rival Wesleyan. The series kicks off with a single game in Middletown at 5 p.m. on Friday.