Softball sweeps into NESCACs

Eph hurlers Katherine Baldwin ’03 and Kate DeLuca ’03 gave new meaning to the tradition of Senior day on Saturday, as both threw complete games and senior position players Kristen Massimiano ’03, Tracey Henderson ’03 and Courtney Hunter ’03 all scored key runs en route to a sweep of the quintet’s last regular season home games. The Ephs (14-14, 7-1 in the NESCAC) won 3-2, and 3-0 over visiting Amherst (12-12, 4-4 in the NESCAC). The two wins, coupled with Middlebury’s loss to Hamilton, gave Williams the NESCAC West crown and a berth in the NESCAC final four while eliminating the Lord Jeffs from the postseason. The Ephs also captured the Little Three Championship, taking all four games against the Cardinals and Lady Jeffs.

In game one against Amherst, the Ephs trailed 2-0 going into the fourth inning, and hits were hard to come by off the opposing staff. Confronting the possibility of having to play a winner-take-all game two if they lost, Williams responded with three unanswered runs. Fittingly, it was Massimiano who would spark the comeback, nailing a triple and then scoring off of a Kerri McMahon ’05 single.

Henderson scored what would be the game-winning run in the fifth after Massimiano grounded to the pitcher, who’s hesistation allowed Henderson to score. However, without gold glove plays from first basemen Laura Noel ’06 and a very solid outing by Baldwin, the game could have gotten out of reach from the get-go. “Amherst has some very good hitters, I just tried not to make many mistakes out there and give our team a chance to win. It’s nice winning your last home games, and it’s not bad when it’s against Amherst either,” Baldwin said. She allowed two runs on the afternoon going the distance.

The story of game two would be the Ephs ability to manufacture runs and ironically play some “small ball.” Great managerial moves by Head Coach Fran Vandermeer accounted for all three of her team’s runs.

In the first, Vandermeer called for the stealing of second and third bases by Alana Frost ’06. An errant throw over the third basemen’s glove gave Williams a 1-0 advantage. In the fourth, Vandermeer inserted junior speedster Carly Massey ’04 as a pinch runner. After advancing to third, Massey was driven home on a sacrifice fly by Liz Gluck ’05. Hunter made an acrobatic slide to avoid a tag at home off of a squeeze bunt by McMahon.

Once again, DeLuca pitched a strong game, conceding only five hits and no runs over seven innings as she continued to stymie opposing batters.

“I’m so proud of the guys on our team. We gutted out two must-win games and never quit even when we fell behind. It just goes to show the character of our team,” a tearful Massimiano said after the game. Henderson could not have been prouder of her fellow seniors, adding, “Kate and Katherine were amazing on the mound today and Krist[en] and Court[ney] both came up with huge plays.”

Last Thursday, the Williams softball team bounced back from being swept by Tufts with a critical sweep on the road against Little Three foe Wesleyan 6-5, and 10-2 (in 5 innings).

Baldwin pitched all seven innings in Game One for the win, surrendering five runs over that stretch. The offense would give her just enough for the victory, putting up a six spot on the scoreboard to give the visiting Ephs the edge.

Fresh off her television debut on the Price is Right, DeLuca threw 5 strong innings. While she was 0-6 on guesses during the hour-long CBS game show that was filmed during the training trip, DeLuca was right on target from the mound, conceding only a pair of runs to the Cardinals.

The real story of the game, however, was the hitting, as the Ephs bombarded the Wesleyan team with a barrage of hits, leading to the ten runs and an eight run margin. Baldwin pitched all seven innings. Four hits from Henderson, three from Massimiano and hard hits by Frost, Massey, Baldiwn and Mary Baccash ’05 highlighted the attack.

Leading the way for the Ephs on offense was RBI machine McMahon, who went 6-9 on the day with a pair of doubles. “I was really picking up the ball today from the pitchers and was able to get some good contact. Everyone was great though, all of us brought our bats to the park today,” McMahon said.

The Ephs next play this Friday against second seeded Tufts at Colby in the NESCAC semi-finals. Host Colby faces Middlebury in the other semi-final. The winner of the double elimination tournament this weekend will advance to the NCAA tournament.