Softball edges University of Northwestern 4-3, rolls to 15-1 win over Wheelock

Senior Paige Ahlholm and the Bates softball team improved to 7-1 on the season with two wins Friday over the University of Northwestern (Minn.) and Wheelock respectively. (File photo by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

CLERMONT, Fla. -- The Bates College softball team picked up two more wins on Friday, beating the University of Northwestern Eagles 4-3 and scoring 10 runs in the sixth inning to defeat Wheelock 15-1. 

The Bobcats (7-1) are off to their best start since 1994. Their six-game winning streak is the Bobcats' longest since they set a program record with nine straight wins in 2012. 

Bates 4, Northwestern (Minn.) 3

First-year Mary Collette drove in fellow first-year Payton Buxton with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh to give the Bobcats a 4-3 victory over the University of Northwestern Eagles Friday morning.

Down 3-2, the Eagles (3-2) tied the game in the top half of the seventh. Moriah Maunu delivered a pinch-hit single to start the frame. Then Taylor Ehnstrom pinch ran and Faith Forcier bunted her over. Some heads up baserunning resulted with Ehnstrom going all the way to third on the play. Mindy Forcier's sacrifice fly drove in Ehnstrom, tying the score at three apiece.

But Bates responded quickly to earn the victory. Buxton (Middlebury, Vt.) doubled to start the bottom of the seventh. Senior captain Tori Fitzgerald (Holliston, Mass.) bunted Buxton to third and Collette's fly ball to center was deep enough to score Buxton for Bates' first walk-off win of the young season.

Sophomore Kirsten Pelletier (Sidney, Maine) improved to 4-0 in the circle thanks to a complete game that featured nine strikeouts and no walks. She allowed three runs (two earned) on seven hits. Pelletier has a 0.75 ERA and 35 strikeouts through 28 innings pitched this season. 

Lexi Kopacek (2-1) took the loss in the circle for the Eagles. She scattered 11 hits over six and two thirds innings and surrendered four runs, only one of which was earned.

Bates grabbed the early lead in the bottom of the first. Junior Andrea Russo (Cheshire, Conn.) reached on an error to start the frame. Back-to-back singles from first-year Caroline Bass (Newton, Mass.) and sophomore Julia Panepinto (Buffalo, N.Y.) loaded the bases with nobody out. Buxton drove in Russo with a single to center. Bass got thrown out at the plate on the play but the Bobcats had a 1-0 lead.

A Bates error, a stolen base, and a two-out RBI single from Ehnstrom tied the score at one in the top of the second. 

The Eagles put runners at the corners in the third inning and with two away Abbie Nelson singled in the go-ahead run to give them the lead.

However, Northwestern's 2-1 edge did not last long. Bass reached on an error to start the bottom of the third and promptly stole second base. Panepinto singled Bass to third and one out later Fitzgerald singled her home to tie the game at two. Collette (Watertown, Conn.) reached on an error and Panepinto scored on the play to put the Bobcats up 3-2.

Pelletier only allowed one hit over the next three innings before the Eagles briefly tied the game in the top of the seventh.

Russo, Panepinto and Buxton recorded two hits apiece and Buxton added a double and an RBI to her impressive game at the plate.

The victory marks Bates' third one-run win of the season. Bates had two one-run wins the previous two years combined. 

Bates 15, Wheelock 1 (6 innings)

The Bobcats scored 10 runs in the sixth inning to run away from the Wheelock College Wildcats by a score of 15-1 Friday afternoon. 

First-year Jevan Sandhu (Plymouth, N.H.) went the distance in her first collegiate start to pick up her second win of the season. She allowed just one run on seven hits, striking out two and walking no one along the way.

The Wildcats (0-7) led 1-0 until the top of the third. Senior Paige Ahlholm (North Andover, Mass.) got the rally going with a double. With one away, Russo singled and Bass drew a walk, loading the bases. A Panepinto sacrifice fly tied the score and with two down a key Wildcat error gave Bates the lead for good.

Wheelock struggled in the field, making seven errors on the day. Wildcat starter Kathy Ochoa (0-5) gave up 15 runs in six innings, but only four were earned.

The Bobcats still did the job at the plate, smacking 16 hits on the afternoon. Russo went 3-5 with three runs scored. Bass went 4-4 and drew a walk to raise her average to .500 on the season. Buxton is also hitting .500 through eight games after going 2-4 with two runs scored and two walks against the Wildcats. Fitzgerald finished the contest 2-5 at the plate while Ahlholm went 2-4 with a pair of runs scored.

Russo, Bass, Buxton and Ahlholm all tallied doubles in the contest.

The Bobcats look to win two more games Saturday when they take on Gordon at 9:00 a.m. and UMass.-Dartmouth at 11:30 a.m.