Errors Costly as Softball Drops Doubleheader
SWARTHMORE, pa – Despite holding a lead in the fifth inning or later in both games of a Thursday doubleheader with Franklin & Marshall, the Swarthmore softball team found itself on the short end of a pair of one-run decisions 5-4 and 6-5. The Swarthmore pitching staff matched the Diplomats' staff batter for batter and the Garnet out-hit Franklin & Marshall in game two but seven Swarthmore errors between the two games led to five unearned runs and left the Garnet lamenting missed opportunities.
Swarthmore halved the deficit in the fourth. Junior Danielle Seltzer, who reached base in seven of her eight plate appearances on the day, doubled with one out in the fourth and advanced to third on a Rose Pitkin groundout. Senior Elizabeth Cushing came through with a two-out RBI single up the middle to plate Seltzer.
Franklin & Marshall answered right back in the next half inning. After Diplomat pitcher Nicole Casey doubled to lead off the inning, Julianne Whitleigh hit a hard liner to center that skipped past the Garnet outfielders and rolled to the wall for a single and an error scoring Casey.
But the Garnet took the lead in its half of the fifth. Freshman Laurie Sellers and junior Kate Smayda singled to lead off the inning, with neither ball leaving the infield, and they advanced to second and third on a passed ball. Freshman Chelsea Matzko, batting in the second spot for the first time this year, doubled them home with a tailing line drive down the leftfield line to tie the score. Matzko moved to third on a groundout and came around to give Swarthmore its first lead on a Seltzer single through the left side.
But the lead didn't last long. In the Diplomat's ensuing at-bat, Alicia Kukoda hit a high fly ball that barely cleared the left center field fence for a game-tying home run.
In the Franklin & Marshall sixth, the Diplomats took advantage of a costly Garnet error to take the lead for good. With two outs, a single and a fielding error put runners on the corners and Megan Pauley singled home the go-ahead-run as the Diplomats took a 5-4 lead.
The Garnet went quickly in the seventh with a one-out walk erased by a game-ending double play.
It was the Garnet that jumped to the lead in the nightcap with three hits in the second. Seltzer singled through the left side and Pitkin walked to put two on with no outs. Cushing tried to sacrifice the runners over but placed the bunt perfectly in the seam past the third-baseman for an infield single loading the bases with no outs. With one out and the bases still loaded, a passed ball allowed Seltzer to score and the runners moved to second and third. After a Samantha Bennett single reloaded the bases, the Swarthmore failed to extend the lead.
Sophomore Melissa O'Connor worked out of trouble in the Diplomats second and third, escaping bases-loaded jams in each frame, and the Garnet extended the lead in its half of the third. With two outs, Seltzer was hit by a pitch and Pitkin her second triple of the year down the line in right to make it 2-0. Cushing followed with another two-out RBI on a single through the left side and make the score 3-0.
The Diplomats finally broke through in the fourth. A walk and a single put two on with no outs and after a fielder's choice and a pop-out to second left Franklin & Marshall with runners still on first and second and two outs, Laura Wagoner hit a pinch-hit three-run homer to tie the game.
The score remained 3-3 until the sixth. With Swarthmore playing as the road team because the games were originally slated to be played in Lancaster until a scheduling conflict arose, the Garnet took the lead in the top of the inning. With two outs, Bennett singled up the middle and Sellers reached on an error by the second-baseman. Smayda followed with an RBI single up the middle to give the Garnet a 4-3 lead.
The bottom of the sixth proved a fateful frame again for Swarthmore as the Diplomats answered right back to take the lead with two outs. A dropped pop-up gave Franklin & Marshall a runner and the next batter Whitleigh drilled a home run to straight away center.
Down to its last strike in the seventh, the Garnet stayed alive. Seltzer singled with one out and Jesslyn Lammerts, who came on to pinch-run, advanced to second on a passed ball with two outs. With a 2-2 count, Cushing hit her 16th double of the season down the left field line to tie the game.
But the game ended in heartbreak in the eighth. Lowe returned to the circle for the Garnet and allowed a one-out walk before getting a lazy pop-up to third from Whitleigh. But Casey delivered with two-outs, sending a walk-off single up the alley in left-center as the Diplomats won 6-5.
The Garnet returns to play with a doubleheader at Penn St.-Berks on Tuesday.