Softball (15-15, 8-4 in the NESCAC), swept the Saturday doubleheader at home against rival Amherst (19-8, 7-5) following a 3-1 loss on Friday at Amherst to secure second place in the NESCAC West and a place in the four-team playoff next week.
The weekend’s match-up was the decisive series of the season for the two teams; Williams, Amherst and Wesleyan (14-17, 9-3) came into the weekend tied at the top of the NESCAC West, and only the top two teams in the division go to NESCACs. Since Wesleyan seemed headed for three easy victories against Hamilton (1-11, 5-27), the weakest team in the division, the loser of this weekend’s battle between the Ephs and Jeffs would surely determine which team’s season would end.
“We approached this weekend with urgency and excitement,” said Joey Lye ’09.Ã‚Â “The situation we were in this weekend is what you train all year for – the ability to succeed under pressure when it matters the most.”
The Ephs’ goal of winning the NESCAC title seemed to be fading after the team’s 3-1 loss on Friday.
The women seemed headed in the right direction after Morgan Simpson ’09 knocked in Lye on a sac-fly in the top of the first to give the Ephs a 1-0 lead out of the gate. But Amherst was able to drive in three runs of its own in the bottom of the inning to take a 3-1 lead.
The score remained the same the rest of the game, even though the Ephs were able to out-hit the Jeffs 9-2. Lye went 2-for-4 from the plate, while Emily Fowler-Cornfeld ’09 and Allison Hart ’12 both went 2-for-3.
The women returned to Williamstown frustrated but confident they could win both games of the doubleheader and make the playoffs.
“We were pretty disappointed in the outcome of Friday’s game especially considering we out-hit them 9-2,” Lye said. “After letting the pain sink in from the loss we focused on the positives including the close nature and determination of our team.Ã‚Â We had confidence that with the way we were hitting the ball we would be able to pull together the next day and produce back-to-back wins.”
In the first game of the doubleheader, Williams jumped to a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Fowler-Cornfeld drove in Lye and Caitlyn Cain ’11 scored on a wild pitch.
Amherst was able to score once in the top of the second to make the score 2-1. The 2-1 mark held until the bottom of the fourth, when Becky Sansone ’09 drove in two runs after an error by Amherst’s third baseman that allowed the runners to advance on the previous play. The Ephs then scored again in the bottom of the sixth to make it 5-3 and were able to hold off a Jeffs rally in the top of the seventh to win 5-3.
Simpson pitched 6.2 innings to get the win, and Mary Beth Daub ’11 came in to get the last out and the save. Lye went 2-for-3 with three runs and a stolen base, and Sansone grabbed two RBIs. Lye’s three runs broke the all-time Williams record for runs scored.
With the series tied at 1-1, the winner of the final game of the series would get the second playoff spot in the division.
The game started as a pitcher’s duel, as neither team was able to put runs on the board until the Ephs scored two in the bottom of the third when Hart singled to left to drive in two unearned runs.
Amherst was able to grab a run back in the top of the fourth, and heading into the fifth the score was 2-1. That was when Williams broke the game open.
A homerun by Hart drove in three runs, and the Ephs were able to score three other runs to make the score 8-1.
Amherst was able to tack two runs on in the top of the ninth, but the game was too far out of reach for the Jeffs, and the Ephs came away with the 8-3 win and a spot in the NESCAC championships.
“On Saturday, our pitching, defense, and offense came together,” Lye said. “When you have pretty good showing in all three areas the momentum and confidence continues to build inning by inning.Ã‚Â We also did a good job getting on the scoreboard early and capitalizing on their mistakes.”
The women will face Tufts on May 1 in their first game of the double-elimination NESCAC tournament. Tufts (34-0, 12-0), with the best record in the NESCAC, will host the three-day tournament that also includes Wesleyan and Bates (9-13, 6-6).
“We are improving everyday and becoming more and more confident in ourselves,” Lye said.Ã‚Â “We are going to give it our all this weekend and leave everything on the field.”