Softball swept by Dickinson, then by Washington

Jesslyn Lammerts waits for a ball to come her way. (Allegra Pocinki/The Phoenix)

Fresh off the pleasure of facing the conference’s best pitcher in McDaniel’s Caroline Brehm, the Swarthmore softball team was lucky enough on Saturday to face the second-best. The results were similar, as the Garnet got swept in front of a home crowd by the Dickinson Red Devils (9-21, 5-5 in conference).

The first game of Saturday’s doubleheader pitted Sarina Lowe ’14 against Dickinson ace Chelsea Homa. Despite a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, Lowe matched the Red Devils star through five scoreless frames until outfielder Erin Owens led off the sixth with a home run that would stand as the game’s only run. Singles by Danielle Seltzer ’13 and Laurie Sellars ’15 were the only blemishes against Homa, who struck out 12 and retired the final 12 batters she faced in the 1-0 Dickinson win.

“I’m not sure if we just weren’t seeing the ball well out of their pitcher’s hand, but I think what made her tricky was her ability to change location effectively from pitch to pitch,” Seltzer said. “She mixed in a rise ball that was very hard to lay off of and then would come at you once you got behind in the count with a change-up.”

The Garnet fared better against Homa in the second game, but not until pitching and defense had put them in too deep of a hole. Starting for Swarthmore, Melissa O’Connor ’14 went the distance but struggled throughout, giving up six runs (three earned) on nine hits while issuing eight free passes.

After O’Connor avoided any damage from a bases-loaded-one-out situation in the second, the Red Devils put runners on in the third and did not fail to score. With runners on first and second with one out, Dickinson struck first when two runs scored on a throwing error from Sellers, who was trying to make a play at home. A sacrifice fly from first baseman Madison Gerish and a two-out RBI single from catcher Carly Jordan gave Dickinson a four-run cushion and all the support they would need.

In the fifth, with the score still 4-0 in favor Dickinson, the Red Devils staged a two-out rally, loading the bases on a single and two consecutive walks. Outfielder Stephanie Hammond singled to left to make the score 5-0.

At long last, the Garnet broke through against Homa in the bottom of the sixth after Denise Haines’s home run made it 6-0 Dickinson. Kate Smayda ’13, hitting leadoff on Saturday, helped her quest to hit over .400 for the year with a leadoff single to left. After the pitcher retired the next batter, Selzter reached on a dropped third strike that wound up scoring Smayda after Jordan made a throwing error.

An RBI double from Rose Pitkin ’13 scored Seltzer, and Pitkin came home to make it 6-3 when Elizabeth Cushing ’12 reached on a throwing error from shortstop Melissa Osborn.

Unfortunately, it was too little too late for the Garnet, who failed to score in the bottom of the seventh as Homa (6-7) completed the sweep for her team. While not quite as overpowering as she had been in Game 1, the Dickinson right-hander went the distance once more, striking out 10 more hitters while allowing three runs on six hits. A sophomore in the middle of a standout season, Homa currently ranks second in the conference in ERA (2.14) and strikeouts (112) and fifth in opponents’ batting average (.242).

Swarthmore’s next quest for their first conference victory came on the road against Washington College, a team that currently sits in fourth place in the Centennial Conference. In the opener, things appeared to be turning the Garnet’s way as the team took a 2-0 lead into the seventh inning off an RBI single from Pitkin and a sacrifice fly from Aaron. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, however, the Shoremen staged a stunning rally off starter O’Connor with two outs and no one on base. A fielding error by Cushing put Christine Anderson on base as the tying run. Following the error, O’Connor allowed a single and a walk to load the bases, bringing it down to the cleanup hitter Kylie Nottingham. The result was a line drive down the right-field line that was misplayed by right fielder Marley Spector ’12, allowing the tying and winning runs to score as the Shoremen pulled out a dramatic 3-2 victory

Following the devastating loss in Game 1, Swarthmore was forced to turn around and play another. This time, the results weren’t as thrilling as Washington took an early lead and put it on cruise control en route to a 7-3 victory. The shoremen struck first against Lowe in the bottom of the first inning on a pair of unearned runs due to an error by first baseman Jesslyn Lammerts ’14.

Lowe pitched well, going six innings and allowing only four unearned runs, but the Garnet never got any closer than when Aaron’s RBI single cut the deficit to 2-1 in the second inning. The Shoremen scored an unearned run in both the fourth and fifth, and then blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three runs on RBI base hits from outfielder Suzanne Patinella and pitcher Kristin Cooper. Swarthmore scored two runs of its own in their last at-bat, but only made the score look a little more respectable.

“We’ve been trying so hard and it’s frustrating that the results of the games aren’t showing,” O’Connor said. “We’ve had several really close games, but it just hasn’t come out in our favor yet.”

Now on a four-game losing streak after back-to-back sweeps, the Garnet (14-18, 0-12) will take a break from conference play with a doubleheader against Immaculata this Thursday at 3:00 p.m.

Coming up this weekend, Haverford visits on Saturday for the annual rivalry doubleheader, with the start of those games slated for 2:00 p.m.

“We’re going to keep fighting for the rest of the season,” O’Connor said, “and will not give up.”

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