Softball to battle for playoff spot in NESCAC West in final weekend

Softball (12-18, 5-4 in the NESCAC) had a week of ups and downs. Coming in hot after a three-win blowout over Amherst, the team split its series on April 16 against RPI, winning the first matchup 5-1 but losing the second 9-8. Against Middlebury on Friday, Williams was shutout in a 3-0 loss. On Saturday, again against the Panthers, the Ephs won the first game 4-1 and lost the second 10-2.

The women’s game at Middlebury on Saturday was not a success, as they lost 10-2. Theresa Legan ’14 batted in Amanda Correnti ’13, while Erica Li ’16 batted in Ally Ensor ’14. Tri-captain Megan Casey ’13 pitched 1 2/3 innings, giving up five runs and walking three batters. “[The team] simply played poorly,” Head Coach Kris Herman said. “Offense, defense and pitching all fell short.”

However, the Ephs came out strong in the second game against the Panthers. Emma Harrington ’15 pitched an outstanding game, giving up only four hits and no earned runs. Legan and Kacey Cramer ’16 were standouts at the plate. To earn the first run in the top of the third, Cramer singled, batting in Li. In the top of the fourth, Legan doubled to bat in Merrilee Weston ’13 and Melissa Cendejas ’16. In the top of the seventh, Cramer doubled, batting in tri-captain Ali Graebner ’14. In the end, Williams came away with the 4-1 win.

On Friday, the women lost a tight game in the series with the final score 3-0 in favor of Middlebury. Mo Frank ’15 led the team in hitting, going two-for-two on the day. “Poor baserunning really hurt us in game one, and we simply could not sustain any offensive rallies,” Herman said. “We out-hit Midd., and Harrington and Casey both pitched well.” Harrington faced 18 batters and came away with three strikeouts. Casey had one strikeout, facing seven batters. “[We] made just enough mistakes –  and [Midd.] made none – to keep us from the win,” Herman said.

On April 16, the women took an early lead against RPI. To start, Li reached first on an error by RPI’s third baseman, giving Legan the opportunity to score a run. Graebner was then walked and stole second. On the same play, Li stole home, adding to the Ephs’ run tally. Graebner next scored for the Ephs off an at bat by Cendejas, giving the Ephs a total of three runs in the top of the first. RPI capitalized on a Williams’ error in the bottom of the inning, scoring a run to make the game 3-1. The women added two more runs in the top of the third when Weston singled, advanced to second on the throw, and batted in Cramer. Next, Correnti singled through the left side, batting in Weston. Casey held RPI at bay from the pitching mound, facing 28 batters. The game ended with a final score of 5-1 in favor of the Ephs.

RPI came back with a vengeance in the following game. The Ephs were the first to get on the scoreboard in the top of the second when Weston singled to bat in Cramer. Williams added two more in the top of the third as Graebner singled to center field, advanced to second on the throw and drove home Legan for the run. Cramer made a similar play, singling to centerfield and advancing to second to bat in Graebner. Midway through the third, Williams held a lead of 3-0. However, RPI came to life in the bottom of the third, earning seven runs. In the top of the fifth, Li advanced Legan to third on the throw and drove Frank in for the run. Graebner then singled, batting in Legan. In the last scoring play of the inning, Kaitlin Dinet ’13 was hit by a pitch, pushing Cendejas to second, Cramer to third and Graebner home to score. In the top of the sixth, Williams came out strong and regained the lead. Graebner singled, advancing Legan to third and bringing Correnti home for a score to make the game 7-7. Next, Cendejas advanced to second on a wild pitch, while Graebner went for third and Legan scored an unearned run. Williams couldn’t keep RPI from scoring in the bottom of the seventh, giving up two more runs and costing them the game, 9-8. Dinet faced 17 batters for the Ephs and Emalie Rott ’15 faced 20.

The team still has a chance to make the NESCAC playoffs. The women hope to sweep Hamilton and finish the season with a bang. The Continentals have struggled this season, going 9-18 in all competition and 1-8 in NESCAC play. They are currently six games behind first-place Middlebury, while Williams is only two games behind.