Softball wins NESCAC tournament for second straight season

Softball (31–10, 11–1 in the NESCAC West) won three games at the NESCAC Championship last weekend, winning its second straight conference title. The women defeated Trinity 3-2 in extra innings in their first game, before defeating Amherst 8-2 and 9-1 to clinch the tournament win.

In Friday’s game, the Bantams grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning. The Ephs, however, struck back in the bottom of the fifth, when Brenna Martinez ’18 and Jessica Kim ’19 hit solo home runs to give the Ephs a 2-1 lead.

Martinez’s homer was the team’s 37th of the season, breaking the school record that was set last year.

Trinity responded with a solo shot from Nicole Towner to tie the game in the sixth. Neither team scored in the seventh, so the game went to extra innings. The Bantams got runners to second and third with two outs in the eighth, but Rebecca Duncan ’20 pitched out of the jam without allowing a run.

With two outs in the ninth, the Ephs staged the game-winning rally. Kristina Alvarado ’19 walked, and Kim, the next batter, ripped a pitch to the gap in right-center. Alvarado scored from first with the winning run, and Kim had a walk-off triple.

Duncan (13-4) earned the win in relief, tossing 7 2/3 innings, striking out seven and allowing just two hits.

With the win, the women advanced to the winners’ bracket of the tournament. Amherst defeated Bowdoin to earn a meeting with Williams on Saturday.

Brooke Bovier ’17 pitched a complete-game six-hitter against the Mammoths, and her teammates backed her with a 12-hit attack.

Kim opened the game with a double to center and scored on an RBI bunt single by Mackenzie Murphy ’19. In the second, Casey Pelz ’19 doubled to left and scored on Alvarado’s RBI single. Murphy homered to left in the third to give the women a 3-0 lead.

The Mammoths fought back with two runs in their half of the third, but the Ephs broke the game open in the fifth, scoring five runs. Kim doubled to center, and Lexi Curt ’18 drove her in with an RBI double to left. Duncan lined a single to left-center to score Curt. After a Margo Beck ’18 single, Martinez doubled to center, scoring Duncan. Riley Salvo ’20 drove in Beck with a sacrifice fly, and Martinez reached home on an Amherst error.

In the circle, Bovier (4-0) scattered six hits and walked two over her seven innings while striking out three.

After Amherst defeated Bates in an elimination game, the Mammoths and Ephs squared off once again on Sunday.

The Ephs jumped on Mammoths starter Lauren Tulskula for a run in the bottom of the first when Kim led off with a double and scored two batters later on an RBI single from Murphy.

A four-run second for Williams put the pressure on the Amherst. With one out, Pelz ripped a double and Salvo drew a walk. Alvarado cleared the bases with her first home run of the season, a three-run blast to left that gave the Ephs a 4-0 lead. Kim followed with a double to right and scored when Curt drilled an RBI single to center.

Down 6-0 in the fourth, Amherst got on the board with a sacrifice fly by Katie Kopatic, but the Ephs answered immediately when Curt blasted her 10th home run of the season, a solo shot to center that made it 7-1. After a double by Duncan and a single by Beck, Pelz hit a two-run single to left to make it 9-1.

Murphy (10-4) pitched all five innings for the Ephs, giving up only three hits without walking a batter. She quietly closed the door on Amherst in the fifth, allowing a harmless one-out single before inducing a pop out to short and a comebacker to the circle to end the game by the eight-run mercy rule.

The Ephs won their second consecutive NESCAC title and their fifth in school history. They also earned an automatic qualification for the NCAA tournament, which be hosted by Williams on Cole Field.

Curt was 6-for-11 in the tournament with two doubles, a home run, two runs and three RBIs. Murphy went 5-for-11, and Pelz went 4-for-8.

Kim was 6-for-11 with four doubles, a triple and a home run in the tournament. She scored five runs and drove in two, winning NESCAC Player of the Week honors. Bovier was NESCAC Pitcher of the Week.

Head Coach Kris Herman said she was very impressed with the team’s performance. “We played well all weekend in all facets of the game,” Herman said. “All three pitchers were great, and we are fortunate to have a tremendous pitching staff. The offense was also on, even though we didn’t put up a lot of runs on Friday.

“I want to commend all of our seniors for important contributions this weekend. Their leadership has been important all year. We hope to keep up the strong play and clutch hitting going all the way through Memorial Day weekend.”

Curt was named the NESCAC Player of the Year yesterday. She, Duncan and Murphy were First Team All-NESCAC selections, while Kim was a Second Team choice.

The Ephs are now 24-1 since returning from their spring break trip to California and will look to continue their success in the NCAA tournament. Williams hosts Thomas, RPI and College of Staten Island in the Regional rounds this weekend.

The women open their tournament versus Thomas at 3:30 p.m. on Friday and will play additional games on Saturday and Sunday.

The Ephs graduate Bovier, Ashley Wirth ’17 and co-captains Alison Michalik ’17 and Dana Cohen ’17 at the season’s end.