Softball stumbles in NESCAC playoffs

Women’s softball (20-18-1, 7-5 in the NESCAC) closed out its season at the NESCAC tournament on Friday and Saturday. The women stumbled 7-5 against Trinity after falling 3-2 to Tufts in the team’s opening game of the tournament Friday afternoon.

Trinity put the pressure on starting pitcher Megan Casey ’13 early on in Saturday’s game. Two walks and a Bantam double in the first inning plated one runner on a wild pitch for a 1-0 score by the end of the first. A Trinity homerun early in the second, followed by another score, put Williams down 3-0 heading into the third inning.

The Ephs stepped up their game in the fourth inning following a scoreless third. Ally Ensor ’14 smashed her fifth solo homer of the season to start off the women’s scoring. After both Cedar Blazek ’13 and Merrilee Weston ’13 managed to find their footing on the bases, Amanda Correnti ’13 singled down the left side of the field, plating another run for a 3-2 tally. Mary Beth Daub ’11 garnered an RBI of her own at the end of the inning for a 3-3 tie.

Trinity, however, answered the women’s run forcefully: Four runs in the team’s next two at-bats put the Bantams up 7-3 by the end of the fifth. A scoreless sixth inning put the pressure on the Ephs heading into the seventh.

Two errors on the part of the Bantam pitcher and a double from Ensor plated Ali Graebner ’14 to start what looked like an Eph rally in the top of the seventh. Another pitcher error put Blazek on base and allowed Ensor to cross the plate for a 7-5 score. The Ephs’ rally was cut short, however, as Bantam pitcher Katherine Poulos regained her stride and struck Weston out swinging.

Casey pitched the first 1.2 innings before relinquishing the mound to Daub, who closed out her pitching career with 10 hits against and one strikeout. The loss represented the team’s elimination from the double-elimination NESCAC tournament, and thereby the end of the Ephs’ season.

“Our offense didn’t perform as we would have liked,” Head Coach Kris Herman said. “We weren’t able to get the key hit we needed. That meant that when we made a few mistakes on defense, it really cost us.”

Herman did note that both Daub and Ensor had strong performances for the squad this weekend. “We fought hard in both games but simply were unable to put together the hitting, pitching and defense we needed.”

The women came out strong against Tufts in the first game of the NESCAC championship. Graebner jump-started the team with her first-inning homer for a 1-0 lead that the Jumbos quickly closed up. A few Tufts hits against Williams pitcher Daub saw the score reach 1-1 by the end of the first.

Quick second and third innings passed before either team put another run up on the scoreboard. Ensor doubled early in the fourth to get herself on base. A walk from Blazek, a sacrifice bunt from Weston and a wild pitch advanced Ensor across the plate for a 2-1 Williams lead. The Jumbos kept the contest tight, however, responding to Ensor’s run with a score during their next at-bat.

Tufts took the lead for the first time in the game during the sixth inning. Two runners were on base when Mira Lieman-Sifry doubled, plating her teammate for a 3-2 lead. Despite their efforts in their final at-bat, Williams couldn’t score another run and finished down 3-2.

“It was a really fun year and an even more exciting season,” captain Caitlyn Cain ’11 said. “We had a group of great girls who love the game and love each other … We worked harder than we have any of the other three seasons I have been at Williams, and that made the team and the season mean so much to all of us.”

The Ephs are losing three key players – Cain, Daub and Carly Ameen ’11  – to graduation this spring. The three have been instrumental in the team’s successes since their rookie season. During this graduating class’s collegiate career, the squad has competed in four NESCAC tournaments, making appearances in the fifth game of the playoffs in both 2009 and 2010.

“All three of them gave everything they had to the team and I am very proud of them,” Herman said. “Caitlyn Cain led the team in batting average and led us in the infield whether catching or playing first base. Carly Ameen found a home in right field after playing in the infield for a few years and did very well. She hit for power throughout her career and is on the all-time home run list. Mary Beth Daub was our No. 1 pitcher and really stepped up her play at the end of the year. They led us to a Little Three title and into the NESCAC tournament after a challenging middle of the season,” Herman concluded.