Softball (29-8, 10-2 in the NESCAC) swept Middlebury 3-2 and 11-3 this past Saturday to capture the NESCAC West and win the opportunity to host the 2016 NESCAC tournament.
The Ephs went into Saturday needing to win one game to win the West. In the opener, they took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Priscilla Pino ’16 launched a rocket down the left field line that stayed fair for a solo home run, her fourth of the season.
Middlebury tied the game in the top of the fifth when Erin Giles led off with a double. Pinch runner Ande Troutman advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Sarah Freyre’s groundout to second.
Williams regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI-single with one out from co-captain Kacey Cramer ’16. Middlebury struck back in the top of the seventh when, with runners on first and third, Freyre launched a fly ball to center field. Eph center fielder, Amanda Siedem ’16, raced back to the track and reached high to snare the ball, but the hit was deep enough to score the runner on third as a sacrifice fly.
Hye-Jin Kim then smoked a ball ticketed for the left-field corner, but co-captain Erica Li ’16 made a twisting, full-out diving catch to snare the ball and end the inning.
It stayed 2-2 until the bottom of the ninth, when Mackenzie Murphy ’19 crushed a 1-1 pitch deep to left for the division-winning walk-off homer. It was her team-leading sixth home run of the season and marked the fifth consecutive game she has connected for a homer.
Murphy was also stellar from the circle, allowing four hits over a full nine innings. She gave up two runs, but did not walk a batter and struck out seven to pick up the victory. Pino and Jessica Kim ’19 were each 2 for 3, while Li and Murphy were both 2 for 4.
In the nightcap, the Ephs banged out 15 hits, built a 6-1 lead and won 11-3 in a game stopped in the bottom of the sixth due to the six-run mercy rule.
Li and Brenna Martinez ’18 opened the bottom of the first with back-to-back doubles, with Martinez scoring Li to earn the RBI. After an out, Pino and Melissa Cendejas ’16 hit back-to-back singles, with Cendejas knocking in Martinez for a 2-0 lead.
Middlebury cut that deficit in half when Emma Hamilton led off the third with a double and scored after Siobhan O’Sullivan’s grounder to short was misplayed.
The Ephs added two runs in the fourth. Siedem led off with a double and scored when Ashley Wirth ’17 singled to right field. Wirth advanced to second on the throw home and scored when Li ripped a single off the pitcher’s glove with two outs.
Williams was back at it in the fifth when Pino drew a one-out walk and Cramer hit a frozen rope deep to left-center that soared over the fence for a two-run home run, giving the team a 6-1 lead.
Middlebury answered with two runs in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-3, but Williams answered with five runs in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by an RBI-triple down the right-field line from Tayler Donze ’16 and a two-run home run to right-center by Margo Beck ’18. Siedem’s sacrifice fly scored the game-ending run.
Brooke Bovier ’17 tossed six complete innings and giving up five hits, three runs (two earned), while walking three and striking out two.
“Every member of this team finds a way to contribute and has a never say die attitude, which is integral to our ability to pull off these walk-off wins,” Li said. “This drive and resilience is going to take us far in post-season.
Williams will face Trinity this Friday at 2:30 p.m. in the first round of the NESCAC Championships.