Brown denies Big Green softball sweep with pair of walk-offs

by Taylor Malmsheimer | 4/15/12 10:00pm

The Dartmouth softball team earned its first doubleheader sweep in Ivy League play this season against Brown University on Saturday before losing two close contests to the Bears (8-20, 5-7 Ivy League) on Sunday, 5-4 and 4-3. On Saturday, the Big Green (10-17, 3-9 Ivy League) won a tight battle in the first game, 6-4, before trouncing the Bears in the second game, 11-3.

The first game began as a pitchers' duel, with both teams combining for only one hit until the top of the fifth inning, when the Dartmouth offense exploded for three runs. Kara Curosh '14 started the two-out rally with a double to right-center, and Britta McOmber '14 followed with an RBI double to the same spot. Rhiannon Saucedo '15 drove in McOmber to give the Big Green the two-run lead.

In the top of the sixth inning, Dartmouth continued its scoring with a solo home run off the bat of Hillary Barker '12. Brown finally fought back in the bottom of the sixth, however, with a four-run rally. Using an inning-opening single and two home runs, the Bears took a 4-3 lead heading into the last inning.

The Big Green kept its composure and answered with some smart play. Evan Gray '13 reached first base on an error to lead off the inning and stole second. After Curosh and McOmber reached on fielder's choices to load the bases, Noelle Ramirez '13 came through in the clutch with a three-run triple to secure victory for the Big Green.

Brown loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh, but Dartmouth held on thanks to the efforts of Barker, who came in to record the final two outs of the contest. Starter Kristen Rumley '15 threw 5 1/3 innings for Dartmouth, tallying nine strikeouts. Gray also pitched one inning to earn the win, and Barker earned a save for her efforts.

"Hillary did a great job of making pitches that put their hitters on their heels a little bit and gave our defense the opportunity to make plays," Dartmouth coach Rachel Hanson said.

The Big Green bats remained hot in the second game, as Dartmouth jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Meghan Everett '12 and Curosh walked and were driven home by an RBI double from Kat Hicks '12. Hillary Hubert '13 drove Hicks home on another double.

In the top of the third inning, Dartmouth pushed its lead to 4-0 after Barker drove Ramirez home with a double. Brown finally showed some offense in the bottom of the third, scoring three runs to make the score 4-3.

Not to be outdone, the Big Green answered with a home run by Barker her second of the day in the top of the fifth to extend the lead to 5-3. Dartmouth ran away with the game in the last two innings, scoring six more runs.

"We worked a lot over the last week on being able to foul off pitches that you aren't as good at hitting," Barker said. "That was really helpful going into the weekend. The team as a whole hit better we were waiting for our pitch and fouling off pitches that we didn't want to hit."

Barker threw a complete game to earn the win, allowing only three runs on five hits. The Big Green offense banged out a season-high 13 hits in the contest, paced by Hicks, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.

"This weekend we had good approaches at plate and did a good job of improving," Hanson said. "We did a good job of looking for pitches to hit and hitting balls we haven't been hitting before."

In Sunday's first game, Brown took an early 1-0 lead after a solo home run in the first inning. Dartmouth responded in the bottom half with a home run of its own by Hicks. The game remained tied, 1-1, until the top of the third inning when Ramirez smashed a home run to put the Big Green ahead. Brown threatened in the bottom of the inning, but Rumley dispensed any chance of a comeback with an inning-ending strikeout.

Dartmouth added two more runs in the top of the sixth inning to take a 4-1 lead. Hicks singled to left and moved to second on a walk to Saucedo, and Rumley followed with an RBI triple to bring her two teammates home.

Brown used a four-run seventh inning to comeback and take their first win of the series in dramatic fashion. The Bears hit three doubles to get two runs and cut the lead to 4-3. A Dartmouth error and an RBI double sealed Brown's victory.

Once again, Hicks led the Big Green at the plate, going 2-for-3 and scoring two runs. In the circle, Rumley threw six innings with eight strikeouts. Hicks finished the game, allowing three runs on three hits.

Brown used its momentum from game one to start strongly in the second game, taking a quick 2-0 lead. The Bears added one more run in the second inning to make the score 3-0. The Big Green recorded only two hits during the first four innings but steadily began to eat into the Brown lead.

In the top of the third inning, Ramirez walked and scored on a double by Barker. Then, in the fifth, Everett reached on an error before Curosh tied the game with a two-run shot. Even after Dartmouth's comeback, Brown persisted, again scoring the game-winning run in walk-off fashion. The Bears loaded the bases and junior Stephanie Thompson came through with a game-winning single.

Barker pitched six innings, allowing four runs on 11 hits, while Katie Adams '13 led Dartmouth's offense, going 2-for-3. Barker talked about some of the Big Green's specific preparation prior to the games against Brown.

"We did a drill to hit the same spot three times in a row with different pitches," Barker said. "We did a lot of little things very location based, which set me up well going into the weekend."

The Big Green plays a midweek doubleheader on Wednesday against the University of Albany before taking on Yale University for four games this weekend.