Softball shows off versatility in doubleheader sweep of Southern Maine

Andrea Russo went 5-7 at the plate in the Bates softball team's doubleheader sweep of Southern Maine on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. (Theophil Syslo/Bates College)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates College softball team showed the ability to win in different ways in Wednesday's doubleheader sweep of Southern Maine. In game one, the Bobcats won a pitchers' duel by a score of 2-1 in eight innings before outslugging the Huskies 10-5 in game two. 

Bates (15-10) has won four in a row heading in to a huge three-game series with Bowdoin that begins this Friday in Brunswick at 4:00 p.m. Then the Bobcats host the Polar Bears in a doubleheader Saturday starting at noon. 

Game One: Bates 2, Southern Maine 1 (8 innings)

First-year Payton Buxton's RBI fielder's choice in the bottom of the eighth scored senior Paige Ahlholm to give Bates a 2-1 victory over Southern Maine in game one of Wednesday's doubleheader. 

Ahlholm (North Andover, Mass.) was placed on second base to begin the inning per the international tiebreaker rules softball employs for extra-inning contests. First-year Mary Collette (Watertown, Conn.) got the job done with a deep fly ball to right field. Ahlholm advanced to third on the play and Buxton (Middlebury, Vt.) hit a grounder to second base. Ahlholm raced home to score the winning run ahead of the throw. 

The 2-1 victory made a winner out of sophomore Kirsten Pelletier (Sidney, Maine) who went the distance in the circle for Bates. She struck out seven while allowing just four hits and a pair of walks. Pelletier (8-7) surrendered just one run and it was unearned.

Southern Maine's Amber Kelly (8-7) pitched well in a tough luck loss. She allowed one earned run on four hits, walking four and striking out four in seven and a third innings. 

The Huskies got on the board first in the top of the fifth inning. Erin Martin singled to start the frame. Then the Huskies bunted her over and Katie Favaloro singled Martin to third. After Favaloro stole second, the Bobcats put Taylor Lux aboard with an intentional walk to load the bases. Brittany Plowman hit a grounder to third and sophomore Julia Panepinto (Buffalo, N.Y.) made a perfect throw home. Unfortunately the throw was dropped and Martin scored to put USM up 1-0. 

Pelletier limited the damage to just one run by getting the next batter to ground into a 1-2 fielder's choice and striking out the hitter after that to end the inning.

The Bobcats evened things up in the bottom of the sixth. Ahlholm drew a walk to begin the inning and first-year Mary Collette (Buffalo, N.Y.) bunted pinch runner first-year Erin Murphy (North Andover, Mass.) to second base. A Buxton fly ball advanced Murphy to third. Then first-year Jevan Sandhu (Plymouth, N.H.) and senior captain Tori Fitzgerald (Holliston, Mass.) drew back-to-back walks to load the bases.

First-year Caroline Bass (Newton, Mass.) got a RBI the hard way by getting hit by the pitch, scoring Murphy and tying the game at one.

Neither team scored in the seventh, sending the game to extra innings.

Pelletier worked around the runner placed at second base in the top of the eighth by getting a ground out back to the mound, a strikeout and a deep fly ball that junior Andrea Russo (Cheshire, Conn.) tracked down for the last out of the inning.

Russo tallied three of Bates' four hits in game one, going 3-4 at the plate. Meanwhile Bass went 1-3 with a run batted in. Both of the Bobcats' runs came in innings where they did not record a hit.

Game 2: Bates 10, Southern Maine 5

The Bobcats never trailed and wracked up 12 hits in their 10-5 victory over the Huskies in game two of Wednesday's doubleheader. Panepinto hit her first career home run in the victory. 

Bates scored two in the first and three in the second to grab an early 5-0 lead. 

After Buxton (5-3) worked a 1-2-3 top of the first in the circle, Russo got hit by a pitch with one away in the bottom of the first. She stole second and Pelletier singled her home to quickly put Bates up 1-0. Pelletier advanced to second on the throw home and moved to third on a Panepinto ground out. Ahlholm singled home Pelletier to extend the lead. 

Fitzgerald got the offense going in the bottom of the second with a single through the right side. Murphy followed with a single to right and Fitzgerald advanced to third thanks to a USM error. That chased starting pitcher Rebecca Ackerson (0-4) from the game and the Huskies brought in Alexis Brown. She finished the game but not before Bates scored more runs.

Bass drove in Fitzgerald with an RBI groundout and Russo reached on an infield single, moving Murphy to third. With two away, Panepinto bunted her way aboard to load the bases. Then Ahlholm singled in two runs to make the score 5-0. 

But the Huskies (16-15) battled back. They plated two in the third and two in the fourth to cut the Bobcat lead to one. Brooke Cross doubled in two in the third and Hannah Kenney and Martin added an RBI double and single respectively in the fourth.  

The Bobcats responded right away with three runs in the bottom of the fourth. Bass reached on an infield single, stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. With one away, Pelletier singled her home. Then Panepinto drilled a home run to deep center, the first of her softball career at any level. Panepinto's long ball gave Bates some breathing room, putting the Bobcats up 8-4.

Cross doubled to start the fifth for USM and Courtney Davis singled her home, making the score 8-5 and prompting the Bobcats to move the Designated Player Pelletier into the circle to pitch. 

She responded by getting a strikeout and a pair of ground outs to end the inning.

Up by three, Bates added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Fitzgerald singled and Murphy got hit by a pitch. Then with two down, Russo tripled in a pair of runs to extend the Bobcat lead to 10-5. 

Russo went 5-7 at the plate in the twin bill to raise her average to .410 on the season, second on the team right now to Bass (.440). 

In addition to Russo, Pelletier, Panepinto, Ahlholm and Fitzgerald all recorded two-hit games in the game two win. Ahlholm drove in three runs while Russo, Pelletier and Panepinto drove in two each.

Buxton earned the win in the circle and Pelletier picked up her first save of the season.