Softball stymies Amherst with 2-1 series victory

Erica Li ’16 notched two hits and two runs in the women’s series against Amherst last weekend.
Erica Li ’16 notched two hits and two runs in the women’s series against Amherst last weekend.

Softball (15-6, 5-1 in the NESCAC) capped a phenomenal start to its season with a pair of victories against Amherst on Saturday. The Ephs’ 3-2 and 5-1 victories gave them a 2-1 series victory over the Jeffs after they lost 13-2 to the Jeffs on Friday. The women ended their spring break trip to Clermont, Fla., with an impressive 11-5 record. The Ephs have a 5-1 conference record that places them in great position for a spot in the postseason.

“[Against Amherst] we played Williams softball,” Head Coach Kris Herman said. “It was a day in which all 15 players made important contributions.”

Friday’s home game against Amherst saw Williams getting off to a 2-0 start early in the game. With runners on second and third, co-captain Ali Graebner ’14 hit a single just along the right-field line that brought in two runs for the Ephs. Though Emma Harrington ’15 maintained a no-hitter through the first two innings, a three-run home run in the top of the third gave Amherst a 3-2 lead.

The very next inning, the Jeffs added five more runs to their total, culminating with a two-run homer. By the end of the fourth inning, Amherst held an 8-2 lead. The weather was uncooperative, however, as the game was delayed until Saturday due to inclement weather.

On the following day, the Ephs failed to rally, and the Jeffs ended the game with a five-run sixth inning to earn a 13-2 victory in six innings.

In Saturday’s afternoon game, the first of two at Amherst, the women struck early with two runs in the first inning. Kacey Cramer ’16 brought Alison Michalik ’17 home with an RBI single, and a double by Graebner sent Cramer around the bases for a run.

After holding the Jeffs scoreless in the bottom of the first, the Ephs continued their scoring during Cramer’s next at-bat, bringing two more runs home. With two outs, a well-timed triple by Graebner allowed Cramer to score, putting Williams ahead 5-0 after the second inning.

“We jumped on their pitcher for a big lead and with Emma [Harrington] pitching we had a ton of confidence,” Herman said.

In the third, Amherst broke through Harrington’s strong pitching with an RBI single by Kelsey Ayers. However, the Ephs stayed focused and closed out the inning without allowing the Jeffs to close the gap any further.

Williams faced trouble again in the fifth inning, when Amherst advanced runners to second and third with no outs. After throwing a runner out at first, the Ephs completed a double play to escape the inning with their 5-1 lead. Neither team changed the score in the final two innings, as Williams held on to take the victory.

Brooke Bovier ’17 started for the Ephs in Saturday’s evening game against Amherst, earning three strikeouts in the first two innings. The Ephs missed out on a chance to score in the second inning, leaving two runners stranded, but they redeemed themselves in the top of the third. With the bases loaded, Melissa Cendejas ’16 connected on a single to center field that sent two runners home, putting the Ephs up 2-0.

The Jeffs responded in the bottom of the third with a run to reduce the Ephs’ lead to one, but a ground out ended the push by the Jeffs. After strong performances in the outfield by both teams over the next two innings, Amherst tied the game with an RBI single that placed a runner on third. However, the Ephs didn’t panic and quickly earned the third out of the inning to maintain a 2-2 tie.

In the top of the seventh inning, a double by Bovier initiated a bases loaded situation for the Ephs. Pinch hitter Priscilla Pino ’16 hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field that allowed Ashley Wirth ’17 to make it home. A double play during the next at-bat ended the Ephs’ hopes of further expanding their lead, but solid fielding by the Ephs kept the Jeffs from scoring, netting the women a 3-2 victory.

“Graebner had four hits on the day and threw a runner out at the plate, Cramer had some key hits, and Cendejas was back from injury and played her first games of the season. She had a big hit as well, and Bovier [had] her best outing to date,” Herman said.

On April 9, Williams hosted Southern Vermont in its home opener. The women easily dispatched Southern Vermont 14-0 to take the first game of the doubleheader. Seven Ephs scored, including Michalik, Graebner and Pino with three runs each and Erica Li ’16 with two. The women did not let up in

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the second game, taking the game 16-3.

“The season has gotten off to a great start because of how much work we did in the off-season and because of everyone’s commitment to being great,” Graebner said. “I think we will stay strong in the coming weeks and hopefully host the NESCAC tournament.”

After returning from their trip where the women went 9-5 in Clermont, Fla., the women swept Tufts 8-7 and 6-4 on April 5. On the last day of their trip, the women defeated Thomas and St. Catherine by scores of 12-2 and 16-4 respectively after losing to Luther 8-0. On March 28, the women went 1-1, losing 9-2 to St. Thomas after an 8-0 win over Colby. The women suffered two losses on March 27, falling 5-0 to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and 11-4 to Buffalo State. Williams swept Hamilton in a three-game series on March 24 to 25, winning 6-5, 10-1 and 9-1. On March 23 Williams took two wins, defeating Potsdam State and Luther by scores of 5-2 and 1-0, respectively. On the first day of competition, the women lost to Anderson 8-7 after defeating Carleton 4-0.

“Florida was a strong start for us. We got some great experience and had strong performances from everyone,” Herman said. “Really, three of our losses were just really sloppy, but that’s also somewhat typical early in the year.”

The women will host a three-game series against NESCAC and Little Three rival Wesleyan this weekend. Friday’s game against Wesleyan starts at 5 p.m. on Cole Field, while Saturday’s doubleheader features games scheduled for 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. This Tuesday, the women host Keene State for a doubleheader with games at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.