Duncan no-hitter leads softball to sweep

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Rebecca Duncan ’20 tossed her first career no-hitter for the Ephs on Saturday as softball claimed the 2019 Little Three title with a 3-0 win over Wesleyan. The Ephs then took the nightcap of the doubleheader, 7-1, behind a two-hitter from co-captain Mackenzie Murphy ’19 and completed a three-game sweep of the Cardinals the next day with a five-hit shutout from Kirstin Mapes ’20.

The women improved to 31–4 and 12–0 in the NESCAC West with the sweep. The Ephs reached the 30-win mark in a single season for the seventh time in program history and the fifth consecutive season. The team also completed divisional play unbeaten for the third time in program history and the first time since the NESCAC expanded from eight divisional games to 12 games in 2007.

In the opening game of the series, Duncan was on point from the get-go, striking out the side in the first and recording two more punch-outs in the second. She finished with a career-best 12 strikeouts, reaching double-figure strikeouts in a single game for the seventh time in her career. Wesleyan hurler Brenna Monroe matched Duncan for the first 3 2/3 innings — not allowing an Ephs hit – but with two outs in the top of the fourth, the Ephs strung together three of their five hits in the game to produce three runs. 

Mapes got the ball rolling — literally — singling down the third-base line with two outs and nobody on in the fourth. Duncan kept the inning going by singling sharply through the hole. Gabi Medvene-Cirigliano ’21 provided the game’s biggest at-bat next. Working the count to 3-2, she fouled off a tough pitch to stay alive before drilling the following pitch over the fence in left-center field for a three-run homer. 

The three-run shot from Medvene-Cirigliano was all Duncan needed. The Ephs right-hander allowed only three baserunners the entire game, hitting one batter and walking two. Ironically, all three were the same player, Wesleyan catcher Sophia Sciarappa. Sciarappa, however, advanced past first only once, in the bottom of the seventh after drawing a walk with one out. A groundout to Jessica Kim ’19 at shortstop moved Sciarappa to second, before Duncan retired the final batter on a soft liner to second baseman Jenny Hickey ’21 to finish off the no-no. 

Five different Ephs recorded a hit in the win. Medevne-Cirigliano had the only extra-base hit. Duncan improved to 12–2 with her gem. 

The nightcap of the doubleheader was a different animal as the Ephs scored all seven of their runs over the first three innings and finished with nine hits. They took a 1-0 lead in the first as Murphy lined a two-out single to right before Mapes dropped a single down the right-field line. That brought-up Medvene-Cirigliano, who lined an RBI-single to score Murphy for the lead. 

In the top of the second, Hickey walked and stole second. Dacia Green ’21 then drew a walk. Kristina Alvarado ’19 moved both runners over with a well-executed sacrifice bunt. Kim then laid down a squeeze bunt and Hickey beat the throw home for a 2-0 lead. Duncan then hit the next pitch over the left-field fence for a three-run homer and a 5-0 Williams lead. The Ephs added two more runs in the third when Medvene-Cirigliano led off with a double and Hickey singled and took second on an error as Medvene-Cirigliano took third. Green scored both with a well-placed single through the shortstop hole. 

Murphy allowed the Cardinals a run in the second on two hits, including Kendall Carr’s RBI-single to right, but struck out the final batter of the frame – the first of 16 consecutive outs she would record. Carr’s hit was the final baserunner of the day for the home team. Murphy finished with a flourish, fanning the final Cardinals batter of the game. She struck out three over her seven innings and improved to 11-2. 

Medvene-Cirigliano was 2 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored. Duncan was 2 for 4 with three RBI and a run scored. Green was 1 for 1 with two walks, two RBIs and a run scored. 

The next morning Mapes fired a five-hit shutout as the Ephs posted their 20th straight victory — tying a program record at the school set by the 2006 team — with a 5-0 decision over Wesleyan. 

Looking for the three-game sweep of their NESCAC West Division rivals, the women got on the board in the top of the second when, with one out, Riley Salvo ’20 rifled a single to right and Alvarado walked. After a fielder’s choice grounder put out Salvo at third, Duncan came through with a double up the middle to score Alvarado from second for a 1-0 lead. 

The Ephs next rallied in the fourth when Alvarado bunted to score Hickey, before reaching home herself on a double down the left field line by Kim. Later, with runners on second and third, Wesleyan looked to end the inning on a double play at home after striking the batter out, but Kim evaded the tag for a 4-0 lead.

The Cardinals threatened to score in the fifth when shortstop Alyssa DaSilva singled, before advancing to second on a sacrifice bunt and later stealing third. But Wesleyan was unable to get on the scoreboard, stranding runners on first and third. The Ephs extended their lead in the seventh when pinch hitter Emma Corbett ’20 doubled to right center, driving in Duncan for the 5-0 advantage.

For Mapes, who threw her second consecutive shutout to improve to 7–0 on the season, the biggest troubles came in the first when Wesleyan loaded the bases with one out on an infield single, a single to right and a walk. But Mapes bore down and fanned the next two batters to squash the threat. She allowed five hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out seven. 

The Ephs recorded 10 hits in the victory. Duncan was 3 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored. Alvarado was 1 for 2 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. 

The Ephs will play next in the quarterfinals of the 2019 NESCAC tournament hosted by Tufts beginning on May 3.