Softball splits a pair with Ripon and Minnesota-Morris to wrap up Florida trip

Sophomore Kirsten Pelletier's ERA is 0.99 after tossing a total of 7.1 innings of one-run ball over the course of two games Sunday in Florida. (File photo by Zachary Roy/UMass.-Dartmouth)

CLERMONT, Fla. -- The Bates College softball team defeated Ripon College 7-1 and fell 6-4 to Minnesota-Morris to conclude their season-opening trip to Florida on Sunday.

Bates (9-3) is off to its best start since the 1994 season when the Bobcats started 9-3 and finished with a 12-3 record. This year's team still has 26 regular season games remaining. The Bobcats take on Southern Maine in a doubleheader on Wednesday, March 28 at Lafayette Street Field starting at 3:00 p.m.

Bates 7, Ripon 1

First-year Payton Buxton drove in five runs and sophomore Kirsten Pelletier tossed a complete game to lead the Bates softball team to a 7-1 victory over Ripon College Sunday morning.

The Bobcats scored five runs in the fourth inning to pull away from the Red Hawks. 

With the score tied at one, first-year Mary Collette (Watertown, Conn.) drew a walk to start the bottom of the fourth. The Bobcats loaded the bases with one away on a fielder's choice and a walk. Then junior Andrea Russo (Cheshire, Conn.) singled home a run. With two down, sophomore Julia Panepinto (Buffalo, N.Y.) got hit by a pitch to force in another run. 

That's when Buxton (Middlebury, Vt.) delivered the big blow, a bases clearing double to extend the Bates lead to 6-1. 

The Bobcats added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. First-year Caroline Bass (Newton, Mass.) singled with one away. Panepinto drew a walk and a wild pitch moved both runners up 60 feet. Buxton drove in her fifth of the day with an RBI grounder, extending the lead to 7-1.

Pelletier (Sidney, Maine) scattered seven hits over her seven innings, striking out five along the way. Pelletier (5-1) did not walk anyone and has now struck out 44 batters on the season while issuing just seven walks. 

Bates got on the board first against Ripon starter Lexi Reetz (2-2) in the bottom of the first inning. Bass bunted her way aboard and promptly stole second base. With two away, Buxton singled her home for the 1-0 lead. 

The Red Hawks tied the game on an Isabella Osborn infield single in the third. They recorded three of their seven hits in that inning alone. 

Bass and Buxton both tallied a pair of hits against the Red Hawks. Bates won despite being outhit 7-6.

Minnesota-Morris 6, Bates 4

The Bobcats took an early 3-0 lead but could not hold on in a 6-4 loss to the Minnesota-Morris Cougars Sunday afternoon.

The Cougars scored three runs in the sixth to break a 3-3 tie. Becca Holland doubled to start the frame and one out later a Bates error allowed the go-ahead run to score. The with two away, another Bates error put runners at the corners. Lacey Sullivan and Kallie Wycoff took advantage with back-to-back singles to put the Cougars up 6-3.

Bates nearly came all the way back in the top of the seventh. Pelletier drew a walk to start the frame. With one away, Bass and Panepinto delivered back-to-back singles, loading the bases. Buxton drove in Pelletier with a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to 6-4. The Bobcats reloaded the bases when senior captain Tori Fitzgerald (Holliston, Mass.) got hit by the pitch. But Collette popped out to end the game.

Bates tallied two in the first inning against Minnesota-Morris starter Madison Langrehr. 

With one away, Bass singled, stole second, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Then Panepinto tripled her home and Buxton singled home Panepinto. 

The Bobcats added another run in the fourth. First-year Abra Kaplan (Oak Park, Ill.) tripled and Russo reached on an error. Kaplan scored on the play to make the score 3-0 in favor of Bates. But the Cougars got one back in the bottom half of the frame when Michelle O'Rourke doubled and Wycoff singled her in. 

Then the Cougars tied the game with two runs in the fifth. A Bates error allowed the leadoff batter to reach and two outs later three straight Cougar singles plated two runs to even the score at three. 

Buxton got the start in the circle for Bates and scattered 12 hits over 5.2 innings of work. She struck out nine batters and did not walk anyone. Of the six runs Buxton allowed, only one was earned. She is now 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA through 25.2 innings pitched to start the season. Pelletier got the final out of the bottom of the sixth to lower her ERA to 0.99 through 42.1 innings pitched.