Softball aims for conference crown

After losing only two seniors to graduation last spring, Williams is looking to once again assert itself as one of the best softball programs in the NESCAC. Disappointing NESCAC losses to Trinity and Tufts last year eliminated the women from the conference tourney and ended their bid for a fourth straight title. But this year, the return of two All-NESCAC athletes, as well as the addition of five first-years and a sophomore bode well for the Ephs’ post-season.

“We definitely want to be better than last year and we think we have the talent to go far,” Emily Fowler-Cornfeld ’09 said. “We want to bring the NESCAC title back to Williams this year.”

Before the Ephs can set their sights on the NESCAC tourney – or even on regular season conference play for that matter – Williams will head to California for a rigorous two weeks of softball. Over the course of the 11-day trip, the squad will play a total of 18 games.

After a number of Williamstown winter practice sessions, the team is eager to head west. “We’ve been having a lot of fun so far and there’s really positive team chemistry, so we’re all very excited for our trip to California,” Katie Powers ’08 said. “I think we’ve got a lot of great hitters and some solid pitching this year, so I’m psyched to see us in action.”
In addition to the amount of on-field experience the trip will provide, the time in California will also help the Ephs set this year’s lineup. The biggest hole that needs to be filled is left by the graduation of Katelyn Knox ’07. With 19 career homeruns Knox is the Ephs’ all-time leader in the category. Her .371 batting average and team-leading 30 RBIs helped Williams to a 20-16 record last year.

Fellow First Team All-NESCAC selection Joey Lye ’09 will likely pick up much of the slack. Last year Lye led the squad in batting (.404), hits (46), runs (36), on-base percentage (.460) and stolen bases (16).

Catcher Katie Powers ’08 returns as a Second Team All-NESCAC selection. She batted .311 last spring, knocking six homers and driving in 19 RBIs.

Returning pitchers Margaret Ryan ’08, Morgan Simpson ’09 and Fowler-Cornfeld will likely all get time on the mound. Simpson led the team last year in wins with 10. She also fanned 85 and held opposing hitters to a mean .252 batting average.

In addition to a NESCAC title, the women are also hoping to nab their 10th consecutive Little Three championship. The season will begin on March 17 when Williams takes on Hamline in the first game of the Sunwest tournament in Orange, Calif.