Leitner ’19 leads softball to a NESCAC West sweep at Amherst

Molly Leitner '19 (Josh McKee photo)
Molly Leitner '19 (Josh McKee photo)

The Hamilton College Continentals won both games of Saturday's doubleheader to complete a sweep of the Amherst College Mammoths in a three-game NESCAC West Division series played in Amherst, Mass.

Hamilton (22-6, 5-4 NESCAC West) edged the Mammoths 3-2 in the first game of the day before coming back to win the second game 5-3. The Continentals also came from behind to win 6-5 on Friday night. Hamilton last swept the Mammoths during the 2015 season.

Amherst (16-7 overall) evens its divisional record at 3-3. The Mammoths opened their NESCAC West schedule with a sweep over Wesleyan University. Hamilton took two out of three games from the Cardinals last weekend at home.

The Continentals travel to Skidmore College for a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday, April 16 starting at 3:30 p.m. in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.


Game One: Hamilton 3, Amherst 2

Molly Leitner '19, Claire O'Brien '21 and Morgan Hartranft '22 joined forces in the pitching circle for game one and held the Mammoths to just one hit. Leitner got the start and gave up two runs on three walks through 3.2 innings. O'Brien recorded the final out of the fourth inning and the first out of the fifth before Hartranft entered the game. After walking the first batter she faced to load the bases with one out in the fifth, Hartranft retired the final eight batters to keep Amherst scoreless and earn the save.

All five runs were scored during the fourth inning. Hamilton started the day needing just two more runs to set a program record, surpassing the original record of 189 runs scored in 2017.

Ashleah Yzaguirre '19 led off the top half of the inning with a walk and Emily Fraser '20 legged out a bunt single. Liz Brautigam '19 scored Yzaguirre from second base with a single to the gap in right center and Fraser moved to third. Brautigam advanced to second during the next at bat. Kendall Searcy '20 picked up an RBI by driving in Fraser on her groundout to the right side of the infield. Brautigam scored the eventual winning run after tagging up and beating the throw home on a Helen Lin '19 line drive up the middle that was caught on a diving play.

Amherst loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning on three walks and Alyson Plaman drove in both of the Mammoths' runs with a single to right center.

Hamilton had a chance to add some insurance runs in the top of the sixth but Vicky Dunn '22 and Lin were left stranded. Brautigam (2-for-3) led off the inning with a double to left field for the 100th hit of her Hamilton career but was later thrown out on a fielder's choice.

Ellie Demaree '22 set the defensive tone in the bottom of the sixth inning when she raced back to the fence in right field and captured a line drive behind her head for the first out of the inning, and the Continentals followed her lead with some stellar plays down the stretch. Courtney Cardea '22 backhanded a groundball at first base and stepped on the bag for the second out, and Hartranft took the third out for herself by striking out Sage Innerarit looking.

In the bottom of the seventh, Searcy gobbled a grounder at shortstop and chucked out Kyra Naftel at first base. Berreitter recorded the second out as she charged in on a dribbler from third base and beat Nicole Trezza to first by a half step. Hartranft again recorded the third out, but this time it was a ground ball back to the circle and the first-year pitcher threw to Yzaguirre at first base for the final out.


Game Two: Hamilton 5, Amherst 3

Hamilton scored one run in the second inning and another in the third for a 2-0 lead in the nightcap. Lin and Searcy hit back-to-back doubles in the second inning, and Berreitter walked to lead off the third. Berreitter came around to score after a stolen base and an Yzaguirre single through the right side of the infield. Berreitter's run was the 84th of her Hamilton career and set a program record. Olivia Gozdz '16 previously held the record of 83 career runs. Berreitter broke the single-season run record last year with 32.

Amherst took advantage of three walks and two hits in the bottom of the third to take a 3-2 lead. The Mammoths had a chance to score a fourth run but the Continentals caught Sammy Salustri in a rundown between third and home for the final out of the inning.

The Continentals took the lead for good with a three-run sixth inning. Fraser led off with a single and was erased on Brautigam's fielder's choice, but Anna Rasmussen '21 followed with a two-run line drive over the fence in left field. The home run was the first of Rasmussen's collegiate career and gave Hamilton a 4-3 lead. Lin singled to left center and the speedy Dunn replaced Lin on first base. Dunn moved to third on back-to-back wild pitches and scored on Searcy's single to left.

Fraser finished 3-for-4 with a double, and both Lin and Searcy went 2-for-3 with doubles. Berreitter walked twice and stole two bases.

Dez DePaulis '19 started in the pitching circle. DePaulis struck out two batters through 2.2 innings and allowed three runs on three hits and three walks. Leitner (4-0) picked up the win in 3.2 innings of relief by keeping Amherst scoreless on four hits. Hartranft earned the save after she entered in the bottom of the seventh with the winning run at the plate and retired the final two batters.