HANOVER, N.H. – The Dartmouth softball team swept Brown and secured home field advantage for the Ivy League Championship Series in Saturday’s doubleheader. A warm, sunny afternoon gave way to two action-packed games as the Big Green took down the Bears 9-1 in six innings in game one and fought back to win 8-7 in game two.
With the wins Dartmouth improves to 21-16 on the year with a 15-5 Ivy League record while Brown falls to 11-28 with a 5-15 conference mark.
The home team’s offense had a visibly a strong showing in the first game, but senior pitcher Breanna Ethridge tossed a complete game and recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts, allowing just two hits and one run in the entire game. The second game would play out much differently, with Brown trailing by three runs in the sixth to then take the lead, forcing the Big Green to show strength and ability to take the win.
“I thought we showed a lot of resilience in that performance,” said head coach Shannon Doepking. “Any time that you get punched as hard as we got punched with giving up a five spot after being in the lead, that’s tough to deal with. I think that it shows the character of our team and what kind of team we really are, that at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter.
“We have to take care of business and do what we have to do, but we showed a ton of fight today which was really, really good to see. I couldn’t be more proud of the performance they showed today.”
In game one Morgan Martinelli and Taylor Ward both recorded two hits including two RBI, but it was a three-run homer from pinch hitter Loghan Thomas that would ultimately put the game out of reach for the road team. The Big Green took the lead in the first on a single from Ward scoring Martinelli and returned for the second inning to tack three more runs on.
Dartmouth loaded the bases in order and with one out, Schae Nelson came to bat hitting a single to left-center field batting in two of the runners. With Nelson and Schroder on base, Ward kept her momentum going with another RBI single down the left line allowing Schroder to score.
Neither team would score in the third inning but Thomas’ three-run shot came in the bottom of the fourth, a situation that came back to haunt the Bears after allowing both Schroder and Martinelli to reach on errors to put the runners on first and second.
Brown’s Annie McGregor hit a solo homer to left field to at least put one run on the board for the road team, but it would not be enough for the Bears to last through the sixth inning. In the bottom of the sixth Schroder led off with a double and Martinelli followed with a home run of her own to score the walk-off run.
The second game began slower as neither team scored in the first inning and the Bears struck first in the top of the second on an RBI double from Grayson Metzger, taking the 1-0 lead. Freshman Heather Turner got the start on the mound, only pitching through two innings before fellow rookie Shelby Wilkison came in in the third.
In the bottom of the third the Big Green responded with the second three-run homer of the day, this time from Nelson, the freshman’s fifth of the season. Dartmouth extended the lead in the fourth on an RBI single from Schroder as she batted in Jade Bravo, heading into the fifth leading 4-1.
Both teams scored one run each in the fifth inning, entering the sixth with a 5-2 Big Green lead. That lead would not hang on as Brown exploded for five runs in the top of the inning, taking the lead 7-5. Ethridge entered in the beginning of the sixth to close for Wilkison, before the Bears were able to take the lead. Madi Cranford batted in the first run of the inning on an RBI single to left, cutting the lead 5-3 with runners on first and second. The leadoff hitter Kaitlin Okimoto’s base hit scored the runner from third and kept two runners on, before the next batter also hit a single and scored one more run.
All tied up 5-5, Meghan Wimmer was hit by a pitch and loaded the bases with two outs. The designated hitter Raquel Blanchard singled up the middle and allowed time for the runners from second and third to score, taking a 7-5 lead before finally McGregor grounded out to close the inning.
In the bottom of the inning Brown put in Grace Ladd to close the game, but she would end up being replaced again halfway through the inning. Dyson was walked in the first at bat before Schroder singled to the shortstop. With runners on first and second, Martinelli reached on a fielder’s choice as Schroder was tagged out at second.
McKenna Gray came in to pinch run for Martinelli and while Nelson is at bat, Dyson scores on a passed ball and Gray advances to third. After Dartmouth cut the lead 7-6 the Bears replaced Ladd, bringing back Emily Waters who started the game. Waters walks Nelson and then Ward to load the bases with one out. Calista Almer then reaches first on a fielder’s choice as Gray gets tagged out at home, but the bases remain loaded.
Senior Claire Bird would then come in clutch hitting a double to right center field, as it dropped far enough away that Nelson and Ward would both score and take the lead back 8-7.
Turner returned to the circle to pitch the final three outs and it would be a diving catch from Schroder that would end the game as Brown had the tying run on second. Schroder led the way in the second game as she went four-for-four with one double and one RBI.
Dartmouth and Brown close out the series tomorrow with the first pitch at 12:35 p.m. tomorrow at the Dartmouth Softball Park.