Ephs softball bests Middlebury three times, improving winning streak to 6-0

Kris Dufour, Sports Information

Softball improved to 6-0 on the season with three wins against Middlebury. (Photo courtesy of Sports Information.)

Kirstin Mapes ’21 and Maya Hartman ’22 threw complete-game shutouts Saturday as softball (6-0, 6-0 in the NESCAC) earned three wins against NESCAC West rival Middlebury (1-4, 0-3 in the NESCAC). The team swept the doubleheader with 3-0 and 4-0 wins, and won the final game 4-3.

In the first of two away games on Saturday, both teams kept the game scoreless for the first five innings, but the Ephs broke through for two runs in the top of the sixth. Azaria Vargas ’22 ran to home on a pitch, and a ground out by Jenny Hickey ’21 led the way for Rachel Neugart ’22 to score.

The Ephs added an insurance run in the seventh inning when Mara Kipnis ’22 hit a ball to right field, driving in Aly Granados ’23 for the third and final point of the game. The game concluded with a 3-0 victory for the Ephs.

In the second game, Hartman made her first collegiate start in 25 months. She scattered five hits over seven frames, recording her first win and shutout in her collegiate career.

The Ephs took a 1-0 lead at the top of the fourth inning on a bunt single by Neugart. They then doubled the advantage on a single to center by Vargas, bringing Mapes home from second to improve to 2-0.

Although the Panthers put runners on the corners via singles during the home half of the inning, the Ephs maintained a tight line of defense, with Hartman shutting down the potential runs with a ground out to end the frame. 

The team added two more runs in the fifth with Kipnis factoring in on both scores. She first hit a triple into the gap in right field to plate Tayler Wise ’24, who went on to score off Kipnis’ hit.

The Ephs finished with eight hits and four runs. Vargas and Mapes each went 2 for 3 in the contest, while Kipnis finished 2 for 4. Hartman ended the game by allowing no first base advances for the final seven batters she faced, leading the College to a two-game victory to conclude Saturday’s matchup.

In Sunday’s competition, the Ephs took the third victory of the weekend, stunning Middlebury 4-3 on Cole Field. 

Middlebury scored early with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning, and the score stayed 2-0 until the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Cirigliano cut the deficit with a deep fly ball to the right that cleared the fence, earning Cirigliano her fourth home run of the season. Later in the inning, Mapes scored off a hit, tying the scoreline 2-2 at the bottom of the sixth. 

The Panthers took the lead again at the top of the seventh, scoring a run off an RBI double. Trailing 3-2, the Ephs started their winning rally with one out in the seventh inning when Wise hit an opposite-field single. Kipnis followed with a single, and Cirigliano tied the game with her line drive single that scored Wise and put runners on first and second base. Mapes then lined a shot toward the left-field line on a full count that scored Kipnis with the game-winner.

Madison Mok ’24 earned her first collegiate victory, throwing 3 ⅔ innings in relief of Mapes and giving up two hits and one run while walking three and striking out two. 

The win gave the College a sweep of its three-game series with the Panthers and kept the Ephs undefeated with a 6-0 season thus far. 

“It’s a challenging year and we’re taking it one pitch at a time, which is exactly what we need to do,” head coach of softball Kris Herman said. “I thought today was a total team effort —everybody was able to make a contribution. I’m happy for the team, especially for the seniors.”

Next up for softball is a doubleheader at Tufts University this Saturday at 1 p.m.