College softball: Bowdoin slugs to doubleheader sweep of Bates

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Bates shortstop Tori Fitzgerald makes a diving catch on a short blooper to the infield during Saturday’s softball game against Bowdoin. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

LEWISTON — Bowdoin made sure to make the most of its hits during a NESCAC softball doubleheader against Bates on Saturday.

That was something the Polar Bears failed to do Friday in a loss to the rival Bobcats. But Saturday, they saw more success at the plate.

Bowdoin had a combined 29 hits between the two games, both of which were ended early by the eight-run rule, and the Polar Bears used those hits to slug to 8-0 and 14-5 victories at Lafayette Street Field.

“(Friday) we had a lot of runners on base, a lot of hits, and just didn’t didn’t get runs across the plate, and gave them the one big inning,” Bowdoin coach Ryan Sullivan said. “So coming up here today it was kind of making sure that we’re stringing those hits together and scoring runs with those hits, rather than just leaving them on base.”

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The Polar Bears (24-8, 9-3 NESCAC) never were able to score more than one run in an inning Friday. They changed that trend from the very first inning Saturday. Lauren O’Shea hit a solo home run two batters into the game, then Natalie Edwards later poked a single into shallow right-center to score another run.

A lead-off double by O’Shea in the third was followed by an RBI single from Caroline Rice, who later came home on an Edwards triple.

“Yesterday we played well, we just didn’t get that next hit, and today we were able to,” Sullivan said. “That’s part of the game sometimes.”

Ruby Siltanen led off the fourth with another home run, and the Polar Bears scored three more runs in the frame with an RBI single by Rice and a two-run single from Claire McCarthy, which signaled the end of the day for Bobcats (16-12, 2-7) starting pitcher Payton Buxton.

Buxton gave up eight runs (seven earned) on nine hits, with two walks and three strikeouts. Jevan Sandhu came on in relief and scattered two hits with a strikeout over the final 1 1/3 innings of a game shortened to five innings.

“They’re just overall a really great hitting team,” Bates coach McKell Barnes said. “They don’t just hit good pitches, they hit pitches that have good spin, that are out of the strike zone, and I think that’s what makes a great hitting team. And they’re dangerous, top to bottom. So you put those two things together, that’s a really good recipe for a great hitting team.”

Bowdoin got a four-hitter shutout from junior pitcher Samantha Roy, who struck out six and walked two.

“Sammy was great. She’s been up and down a little bit this year, but when she’s been good she’s been great, and today was one of those days,” Sullivan said. “She just really had good stuff, good movement, good velocity, and was able to keep them off balance with her different pitches.”

“Gosh, we made her look like Jennie Finch. I mean, obviously she had good stuff today, but I just thought that our approach up at bat was pretty terrible,” Barnes said. “She threw a good game, but we certainly didn’t help ourselves at all either.”

Bates was hoping to have another good game from sophomore ace pitcher Kirsten Pelletier in the second game of the doubleheader. Pelletier entered the series with a 1.30 earned-run average, and was able to hold Bowdoin to just four runs on 15 hits Friday.

Through the first two innings Saturday it looked like it could be more of the same. She allowed one hit in each inning and struck out a batter. But No. 9 hitter Ali Miller led off the third by legging out an infield single, and that got the Polar Bears going again. Two more singles followed to score one run — cutting into Bates’ 3-0 lead — and after a strikeout, Bowdoin slugged a McCarthy double, an Edwards homer, an Allison Rutz bloop single, and a Samantha Valdivia triple to bring in five more runs. Two more singles after another Pelletier strikeout made it an eight-run inning.

“She’s really good, and she’s having a great year. And so we knew we had to be really focused,” Sullivan said. “She’s got pitches that hit all areas of the strike zone, so we just try to be selective and find the pitches that we want to hit, which is easier said than done. We’ve got a lot of veteran hitters that have been through it before, so they were able to kind of stay patient and find their pitch.”

The half-inning completely flipped control of the game. The Bobcats got off to the kind of start they were looking for in the bottom of the first against Rutz. The first six batters all reached, with Paige Ahlholm singling in one run and Julia Panepinto driving in two more with a single to follow. Rutz and the Polar Bears avoided further damage with a line-out double play and a strikeout to end the inning.

“They came out, they hit the ball hard, they had great approach up at bat, swinging at good pitches, and attack mode, which is what we talk about all the time,” Barnes said. “It was really great to see.”

The Bates offense struck again in the bottom of the fifth to cut into the deficit. Pelletier hit a one-out single and Panepinto blasted a two-run homer two batters later to cut it to 8-5.

Bowdoin had an answer, however. An error started the top of the sixth, then came four singles in a span of five at-bats, then two more after a fielder’s choice, scoring a total of six more runs.

Pelletier, who set a season-high Friday with the 15 hits allowed, topped that with 18 on Saturday. Of the 14 runs, 10 were earned. She struck out six and didn’t issue a walk.

“She was off today,” Barnes said. “And who knows if it was fatigue today, or if it was I don’t know. But we’ll give credit where credit is due, as well. They made adjustments, and they hit the ball hard, and they hit different pitches in different counts. They just out-hit us and out-performed us today.”

Rutz gave up five runs on eight hits, with three strikeouts and a walk in five innings. Siltanen worked around a hit batter and a fielder’s choice to record a scoreless sixth, ending the game an inning early.

“I think today wasn’t really indicative of what kind of softball team that we are, and you have those days,” Barnes said. “You just chalk it up and move on.

“Our season goal is to play in May. Playoffs. And today’s outcome doesn’t deviate from that end-season goal. We have to take care of business against Colby and we’re in.”

wkramlich@sunjournal.com

Bowdoin’s Maddie Rouhana tags out Bates’ Mary Collette at third base to end an inning and a Bates rally during Saturday’s softball game in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Bates centerfielder Andrea Russo can’t get a glove on a deep fly ball off the bat of a Bowdoin batter during Saturday’s softball game in Lewiston. (Russ Dillingham)

Bates pitcher Payton Buxton delivers a pitch during Saturday’s game against Bowdoin College. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

Bates pitcher Payton Buxton delivers a pitch during Saturday’s game against Bowdoin College. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

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