Softball takes a share of the Little III Title

After 12 days of rainy weather, four cancelled games, six too many indoor practices, and one just right intra-squad scrimmage with guest stars Julia Karoly ’03 and Carissa Carter ’01, Williams softball brought a sunny-72-degree-gentle breeze-cloudless — yes, it really was that perfect — sky over the river and through the woods to Amherst last Saturday. The Lady Jeffs welcomed them with awed comments, “My, what big bats you have. My, what fast feet you have. My, what golden gloves you have.” And the Ephs responded with a resounding “Yes. The better to beat you with at the plate, on the basepaths, and in the field.”

Ever courteous visitors, the Ephs let Amherst co-captain Liza Feldman make true her childhood backyard dream of knocking in the two-out bases-loaded winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning of game one, but the Williams kids were less generous in the second game of the doubleheader, and the nightcap win earned them a share of the Little Three title. Actually, the combined scores of the 3-2 loss and 5-3 win puts Williams ahead of Amherst 7-6 and makes Ephraim’s great(x5)-grandkids the unofficial but very legit Little Three Champions.

The Ephs jumped out to an early lead in the second game after three of the first four batters reached base safely and Kricket Massimiano ’03 belted a triple over the leftfielder’s head to score Jess Hartley ’02 and Katherine Baldwin ’03.

Williams held the 2-0 lead through four innings, as Kaitlyn DeLuca ’03 limited Amherst to just two hits, before adding three more runs in the top of the fifth when Gisele Pinck ’02 and Caitlin Carr ’01 hit back-to-back singles and then executed a successful double steal. Hartley and Baldwin laid down back-to-back suicide squeezes to score Pinck and Carr and reach first safey themselves.

Though the Eph scoring ended there, five runs proved enough to hold off Amherst’s offensive threats late in the game. The Lady Jeffs began the sixth with four singles, but outstanding defensive plays by centerfielder Courtney Hunter ’03, who threw out a runner at the plate, and third baseman Massimiano, who dove to snag a low line drive, limited the Lady Jeffs to three runs in the rally. Amherst challenged the Ephs in the bottom of the seventh as well, loading the bases with two outs, but Williams pitching proved too strong even for NESCAC batting leader Darcy Sweeney, who struck out to end the game.

Exciting seventh innings seemed to be the plate du jour at the plate, as the first game also was decided late in the contest. Though Williams threatened early in the game with lead off singles by Pinck and Carr in the top of the first and third innings, the Ephs were held scoreless until the fifth, when Pinck began the inning with her third single of the day, stole second, and advanced to third on a pass ball. Hartley laid down the suicide squeeze to score Pinck and crossed the plate herself on an RBI double by Katherine Baldwin ’03. The two-run inning pushed the Ephs ahead of Amherst, who had put a single run on the board in the third, and established a lead to be maintained until the bottom of the seventh when Amherst knocked in two runs to take the 3-2 victory. Baldwin took the loss on the mound, but she struck out three Lady Jeff batters and thrice retired the side in order.

Strong performances at the plate by Pinck and Carr, who had four hits apiece, and Hartley, who twice executed the suicide squeeze, complemented the strong pitching by DeLuca and Baldwin and stellar defensive play at all positions. Head coach George Galli affirmed the satisfied feeling that comes from good company, good play, and a good day in describing the Williams effort as “awesome.” Galli further commented, “Though we were tested after the first ballgame, we really came through in the second. Our hats off to Amherst in game one, and my hat off to Williams in game two.”

In the coming week, Williams Softball looks to reach the 20-win mark in contests against Springfield, MCLA, and Middlebury. Come to Cole Field and watch the team on Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.