Softball sweeps Little Three, NESCAC rival Wesleyan

Lexi Curt ’18 hit her conference-leading seventh home run of the season and the 30th of her Williams career against Wesleyan last weekend. Photo Courtesy of Sports Information.

Softball (18-4, 5-1 in the NESCAC) completed a three-game sweep of Little Three and NESCAC rival Wesleyan last week.

On Sunday, co-captain Lexi Curt ’18, Rebecca Duncan ’20 and Kirstin Mapes ’20 smacked first-inning home runs at Cole Field, and Mackenzie Murphy ’19 went 3-for-4 while pitching five solid innings.

Curt opened the game by driving the first pitch she saw over the fence in right-center field with one out in the bottom of the first. The home run was her conference-leading seventh of the season and the 30th of her Williams career, making her the first Eph to reach the 30-home run mark. With two outs, Duncan sent a towering fly ball down the left-field line and gave the Ephs a 2-0 lead. Mapes followed with a shot to straight-away center that was still rising as it passed the media booth just beyond the fence.

Wesleyan countered with a run of its own in the top of the second to make the score 3-1. Rielly Wieners got the rally started when she reached on an error. Marina Williams lined a single to left, and a ground out put runners on second and third with one out. The battle of the Brennas then ensued as Cardinal batter Brenna Monroe hit a sharp one hopper toward right field. Eph secondman Brenna Martinez ’18 made a beautiful diving stop, however, and threw Monroe out at first as Wieners scored.

The Ephs put the game out of reach with a seven-run explosion in the second inning. Casey Pelz ’19 and Riley Salvo ’20 grounded singles to left and, after an out, Curt was hit with a pitch to load the bases. Murphy followed with a two-run single to left for a 5-1 lead. With two outs and the bases loaded, Margo Beck ’18 drilled an RBI-single into right field. Martinez then dropped a ball into shallow left center that found grass for a two-run single and an 8-1 lead. Pelz drew a walk to load the bases, and Salvo and Jessica Kim ’19 followed with back-to-back RBI-singles to extend the Eph lead to 10-1.

Wesleyan’s Danielle Rinaldi momentarily extended the game when, with two outs in the top of the fifth, she roped a two-run homer to left to make it 10-3. But the Ephs tacked on another run when Mapes hit a sacrifice fly ball to win with a final score of 11-3.

Murphy improved to 7-0 on the season by going five frames and allowing four hits and three runs, two earned, while walking one and striking out two. Lauren Gaffney-Gomez took the loss for Wesleyan. Salvo finished 2-for-2 with an RBI and run scored for the Ephs, who finished with 12 hits.

On Saturday, the women beat Wesleyan twice in a doubleheader. Murphy and Duncan did not allow an earned run in the 5-1, 12-0 sweep.

Wesleyan scored its lone run of the day in the top of the first inning of the opener when Wieners singled home Rinaldi with two outs. The Cardinals would be limited to only four hits and no runs over the next 11 innings.

Williams answered immediately with two runs. Kim led off with a double to left that one-hopped the fence. Curt singled and Murphy grounded a double past the third-base bag to score Kim. Curt scored the go-ahead run on Beck’s groundout to short. The Ephs tacked on a run in the fourth when the first three batters singled. Duncan led off with an infield hit, Martinez followed with a grounder back up the middle and Salvo snuck a grounder through the left side to drive in Duncan for a 3-1 lead.

After unearned runs in the fifth and sixth innings, the Ephs took home the 5-1 victory.

The second contest was a different story, as the Ephs smacked four home runs, and the game ended after five innings due to the eight-run mercy rule. Duncan carried a perfect game into the top of the fifth, but Wieners broke that bid up with a single up the middle. Duncan (8-2) settled for a one-hit shutout while going 3-for-3 at the plate with two home runs and seven RBIs.

The Ephs had offensive success from the very start. Kim drew a lead-off walk from Cardinal starter Rinaldi and, after an out, Murphy singled to left. Duncan followed with a frozen rope to left center that cleared the fence for a three-run home run, her first of the season. Beck then reached base on catcher’s interference, and Mapes doubled to right field. With two outs, Pelz crushed a shot to left center for another three-run homer that put Williams up 6-0.

The Ephs added a run in the second on Murphy’s solo blast to right-center field off a change-up. They added five more in the third, all with two outs. Jennifer Hickey ’21 started the rally with a slap hit to center. Kim grounded a single to left, and Curt lined a single to right that scored Hickey for an 8-0 lead. After a walk to Murphy, Duncan hit a towering drive down the left-field line that cleared the wall for a grand-slam home run and an eventual 12-0 Williams win.

Curt gave her thoughts on the series. “Our team came out ready to play, and we made sure we played our game and didn’t let external factors influence or lessen our intensity,” she said. “We drove the pace of the game and did the little things right. Our pitchers held us in the game nicely, and we let our bats do what they do best!”

The women return to action on Wednesday with a home doubleheader against Renn at 3:30 p.m.

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