Nolan records 300th K as softball sweeps Worcester State

Madison Sullivan '16 and Melissa Nolan '14
Madison Sullivan '16 and Melissa Nolan '14

WORCESTER, Mass. (courtesy Worcester State sports information) -- Senior Melissa Nolan (Windsor, Conn./Loomis Chaffee) collected her 300th strikeout in the 12-7 game one victory before sophomore Madison Sullivan (Dover, N.H./Dover) knocked in the game-winning run in a 5-4 eight inning triumph for the Judges in the nightcap. 

Brandeis (18-16) started off the opener with the early 3-0 advantage in the top of the second. Sophomore Madison Gagnon (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake) and classmate Jordan Buscetto (Old Lyme, Conn./Old Lyme) had run producing plate appearances to help lead the charge.  

Sullivan, senior Leah McWilliams (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial), freshman Liana Moss (Agoura Hills, Calif./Agoura) and Nolan then chipped in with RBIs as the visitors nearly batted around for a second time with four more scores for the 7-0 edge in the third inning. 

The Lancers (10-17) put up a three-spot when the hosts took advantage of a key miscue in the bottom of the third. With the bases loaded, sophomore Meghan Rich (Chelmsford, Mass.) drove a single to right center, which slipped past the dive of the centerfielder and allowed everyone to come home on the misplay. 

The Judges responded in the next half inning when junior Anya Kamber (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline) hammered her fourth homer of the season with a solo shot to left center. 

Brandeis added one more score in the top of the fifth for the 9-3 margin when sophomore Danielle Novotny (Milford, N.J./Delaware Valley) doubled in Moss with two outs. 

Worcester State answered in the bottom of the same frame when sophomore Hayley Terry (N. Dighton, Mass.) manufactured a run with a solo base-knock to bring in classmate Sara Pelletier (Leominster, Mass.) before freshman Kayla Humphrey (Wallingford, Conn.) followed with a two-run single to help the Lancers trail by three runs. 

Brandeis though put the game out of reach with a trio of scores over the last two stanzas to open up a 12-6 contest. Gagnon drove in her second run of the contest in the top of the eighth while Sullivan added a sacrifice fly and Kamber scampered home on an errant play by the shortstop in the ninth. 

The Blue and Gold did not go away quietly as senior Hillary Hart (Clinton, Mass.) connected on an RBI triple to right field for the final tally of the contest. 

In all, the Judges banged out 22 hits in the opener - their most in a single game since at least 2005 - led by four apiece from Novotny and Kamber. Moss and Sullivan both finished with two runs and three base-knocks each. Gagnon, McWilliams, Nolan and Buscetto added two for the visitors as Kamber touched home plate four times.

Rich went 2-for-3 to help the Lancers notch eight safeties for the game and Pelletier scored twice with one of her runs coming in the ninth after she doubled to lead off the frame.  

Nolan (6-3) became the third Brandeis softball pitcher to reach the 300 strikeout milestone. With 302 punch outs she is just 31 off the second place mark set by Caroline Miller (2009-12). She fanned four and walked three in the opener while allowing six runs (five earned) on six hits 

Sophomore Marissa Avanzato (Pittsfield, Mass.) absorbed the setback. Avanzato (1-3) permitted eight runs (six earned) on 14 hits to go with two free passes and one strikeout. 

Trailing 4-0 in the nightcap in the bottom of the seventh, Worcester State scored four times in the inning to force extra innings.

Taking advantage of three consecutive miscues by the defense, the Lancers notched their first run on an RBI fielder's choice by junior Taylor Hanley(Wilmington, Mass.) to help bring in Pelletier, who started off the inning with a single.

After an infield solo safety to juice the bases, freshman Courtney Salisbury (Cranston, R.I.) walked in a run to set the stage for Rich who belted a two-run, one out double to right center, which tied up the game at 4-4. 

Brandeis junior Nikki Cote (Shelton, Conn./St. Josephs), however, set down the final two batters to help prevent a walk-off victory. 

In the top of the eighth, Sullivan gave her team a lift with what proved to be the deciding score on an RBI two-bagger to score Novotny to lead off the frame.

With Humphrey at standing second, the Lancers failed to drive her in as Cote retired the side by setting down all three batters she faced with groundouts. 

The Judges originally staked the early 1-0 lead when Gagnon scurried home from third after the second baseman couldn't come up with play to end the top of the first. 

Three innings later in the top of the fourth, rookie Madison Hunter (Parker, Colo./Legend High School) drove in Kamber before Novotny crossed the plate to help give the visitors the 3-0 edge after the first baseman dropped the final out of the inning. 

Brandeis notched a key run in the top of the seventh for the 4-0 advantage when Moss helped score Gagnon from second with a double to the deep part of centerfield. Gagnon sparked the rally with a walk and she moved into scoring position on a sacrifice. 

Cote (6-8) went the distance and she yielded four runs (one earned) while scattering eight hits. She also rung up three on strikes and dealt one walk. 

Freshman Mary McKeown (Shrewsbury, Mass.) also matched the effort in the circle going the full eight innings giving up five runs (two earned) and 11 hits. McKeown (0-3) fanned one and gave up one base on balls. 

 In the second game, Brandeis outhit their opponents 11-8 as Kamber, Sullivan and Hunter all registered a pair of base-knocks each. Gagnon and Novotny both scored twice for the visitors. 

Salisbury was the lone multi-hitter for the hosts with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate. 

Brandeis hosts Emerson in a 10 a.m. twin bill on Sunday when they will celebrate Senior Day. Tonight's sweep was sweet revenge for when the Blue and Gold knocked the Judges out of the first round of last year's ECAC Division III New England Softball Tournament.

Worcester State will travel to Salem State for a noontime doubleheader against Salem State on Saturday. The Lancers try to secure a first-round bye into next week's MASCAC Tournament.