Softball (17-5, 3-0 in the NESCAC) faced Wesleyan in its conference opener last weekend, gaining a come-from-behind 8-7 victory Friday and 1-0 and 6-1 victories on Saturday. Eph pitchers limited Wesleyan to one run over 14 innings on Saturday, leading the team to the sweep that kept them undefeated in the NESCAC West.
“The main thing to point to for the entire season is the leadership and play of our six seniors,” Head Coach Kris Herman said. “They set the tone in every way and are followed by a team of really great players all around.”
Saturday’s opener posed an entertaining pitcher’s duel between Alejandra Magana ’19 and Wesleyan’s Julie McDonald. Throughout the first five innings, baserunners were sparse. Lexi Curt ’18 threatened in the fourth when she smacked a one-out double to left center field, but McDonald stranded her there with a groundout.
Wesleyan’s Olivia Gorman lined a one-out double in the top of the fifth, but Magana induced a soft liner back to the circle and a ground ball to short to end the frame.
Priscilla Pino ’16 led off the bottom of the fifth and smoked a line drive down the left field line and over the fence for a solo home run, giving the Ephs a 1-0 lead.
Williams nearly produced a key insurance run when Brenna Martinez ’18 and Tayler Donze ’16 singled. With two outs, Alison Michalik ’17 blooped a base hit into right field, but Gorman threw out pinch-runner Jill Jenkin ’19 at the plate to end the inning.
The Cardinals nearly tied the game in the top of the sixth when Jamie Hom laced a one-out single and took second on a groundout. Rachel Kantor then singled to right but right fielder Donze jumped on the ball, throwing to home in plenty of time for catcher Curt to tag out Hom, ending the inning and preserving the 1-0 lead.
In the seventh, a single by Wesleyan’s Amanda Roosa led to a pitching change for Williams. Mackenzie Murphy ’19 came on and struck out the first batter she faced, but an infield single and a groundout put Cardinal runners on second and third.
Wesleyan’s Mollie Grunat then hit a wicked one-hopper to first baseman Melissa Cendejas ’16, who corralled the ball in the webbing of her glove and stepped on first to end the contest.
Magana allowed seven hits over six scoreless innings and did not walk a batter while striking out two. Murphy allowed one hit in one inning, did not walk a batter and struck out one to earn the save. Michalik was the only multiple-hitter in the contest, going 2-for-3.
The early part of the second game also featured strong pitching from both teams, with Kantor handling the Ephs and Brooke Bovier ’17 the Cardinals. Williams took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning when Amanda Siedem ’16 stroked a long double.
Wesleyan tied it 1-1 in its half of the third when Gorman led off with a single.
In the fifth inning, the Ephs broke the game open, scoring four runs. Singles by co-captain Erica Li ’16, Curt and Pino loaded the bases for co-captain Kacey Cramer ’16, who rocketed a deep fly to center that fell for a two-run double. Cendejas then hit a ball with some wicked topspin that managed to elude the Cardinals’ fielders and score a run, and Martinez followed with an RBI-single that put the Ephs up 6-1.
Bovier earned the win, allowing only four hits over seven innings while walking just one and striking out two.
“It was nice to finally get our first NESCAC West games under our belts,” Li said. “I am glad that we came out of this weekend with a sweep and it is definitely a goal we have for all of our NESCAC West series this year.”
“I think that this first series really showed the resilience of this team,” Cramer said. “We talk a lot about having bounce back and about not letting unexpected or uncontrollable situations affect our energy on the field.”
Over spring break, softball defeated Tufts 6-4 and 6-5, lost to MIT 1-0 and 2-1 and trounced Colby 11-3 and 12-3. The results from the game against RPI yesterday came in too late to report.
Softball looks ahead to Skidmore tonight at 4 p.m. and Hamilton on Friday at 5 p.m.