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Softball beats Middlebury to finish Florida trip







CLERMONT, Fla. -- The Bates College softball team finished its season-opening trip to Florida by splitting a pair of games Saturday at the National Training Center. On Saturday morning, Eastern Connecticut State defeated Bates 5-0; Bates evened out the day with a 6-3 victory over Middlebury in the afternoon.

The Bobcats faced a tough opponent in Eastern Connecticut State (1-0). Sophomore pitcher Molly Rathbun kept the Bobcats at bay with a dominating performance, including three hits, two walks, 12 strikeouts and no earned runs. The Bobcats put pressure on early when sophomore first baseman Monica Berube (Plaistow, N.H.) earned a walk to start off the second inning. Rathbun got the next two batters, but gave up an infield single to sophomore left fielder Courtney Talcott (Sutton, Mass.). Berube was caught in a rundown between second and third on the play and was tagged out for the third out of the inning.

Talcott was 2-for-3 in the game with two singles. Senior Jean McIntyre (Marshfield, Mass.) was 1-1 with a single.

Eastern Connecticut scored two runs in the top of the first to get ahead early. They tacked on two more runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to earn a 5-0 victory. First-year pitcher Caroline Gattuso (North Reading, Mass.) had a solid outing for Bates, giving up four earned runs on eight hits, with five strikeouts and two walks in six innings.

Bates 6, Middlebury 3

The Bobcats earned an impressive victory over NESCAC West rival Middlebury College (0-1) in their final game in Florida.

Middlebury struck first, as leadoff batter Emily Burbridge walked and stole second to put herself in scoring position with no outs. She advanced to third on a ground ball to Bates first-year shortstop Mary Lewis (Gardiner, Maine), and tagged up on an RBI pop fly by shortstop Jessa Hoffman to put the Panthers up by one. Bates sophomore pitcher Kristen Finn (Winthrop, Mass.) got out of the inning on a pop fly by Panther first baseman Megan Margel.

Bates started a rally of its own in the bottom of the first inning, as sophomore right fielder Karen Ullmann (Ramsey, N.J.) earned a leadoff walk. Talcott singled to left to move Ullmann into scoring position. Ullmann and Talcott advanced to third and second, respectively, on a wild pitch by Panther pitcher Geena Constantin. Sophomore Leah Maciejewski (Tewksbury, Mass.) then hit a two-run single to right field to put Bates up 2-1. Sophomore second baseman Lauren Dobish (Chambersburg, Pa.) kept the bats going for the Bobcats with an RBI single to right, scoring Maciejewski. Constantin settled down and got three outs without any further damage done.

In the second inning, Middlebury closed the gap to one when third baseman Sarah Boylan hit an RBI single to score catcher Alyson Downing, who had previously hit a one-out triple. The Panthers only got one back as Finn and the Bobcat defense shut down Middlebury's momentum.

In the bottom of the second, Bates answered back. First-year catcher AnnaMarie Martino (Plymouth, Minn.) hit a one-out single up the middle, then stole second and third to put herself in prime scoring position. Ullmann singled to left to put Bates back up by two.

Finn had a four-pitch third inning, forcing two ground outs and a popup. In the fourth inning the Panthers left a runner stranded at third, as Lewis turned a double play and Finn struck out Boylan for the third out of the inning.

Bates added two more runs, on an RBI single by Talcott that scored Martino in the fourth inning, and an RBI infield single by Lewis in the fifth inning to score Dobish.

Finn remained strong, retiring six straight batters in the fifth and sixth innings to hold a 6-2 lead going into the seventh inning. Middlebury did not go out easily, putting some pressure on the Bobcats defense in their last opportunity at the plate. Constantin led off the inning with a double to right field and advanced to third on the throw. Downing scored Constantin on an RBI single up the middle. Boylan was up next and hit a ground ball to sophomore third baseman Kelly McManus (Plymouth, N.H.), who threw Downing out at second for the first out of the inning. Panther right fielder Kira Gordon hit a single, moving Boylan into scoring position. Boylan and Gordan advanced to third and second, respectively on a wild pitch, but Finn buckled down to force the next two batters to ground out for the final two outs of the inning. The Bobcats took the 6-3 victory.

Finn got her first win of the season, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk, with one strikeout.

Bates plays a doubleheader at Rhode Island College next Saturday, March 27, starting at 1 p.m.

BOX SCORE: ECSU 5, Bates 0

BOX SCORE: Bates 6, Middlebury 3