April 19, 2010

Merrilee Weston's one-out, two-run single in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted Williams to a thrilling 7-6 conference win over Middlebury. The Ephs improve to 9-17 on the season, 4-2 in the NESCAC West, while Middlebury falls to 15-8 overall, 6-3 in the West. With the win, the Ephs take the series, 2-1.

            Sunday, both teams appeared to have this pivotal game won multiple times. Williams scored three times in the first and led 4-3 after three innings. The score was the same entering the top of the seventh. With two outs and sophomore pinch-runner Haley MacKeen (Antigonish, N.S.) at second base, Williams hurler Mary Beth Daub had a 3-2 count on Middlebury rookie  Sarah Boylan (Danvers, Mass.) when the Panther got a hold of the next pitch and drove it over the fence for a dramatic two-run home run and a 5-4 Middlebury lead.

            In the bottom of the seventh, Eph lead-off batter Oriana Mcgee slashed a single up the middle with no outs and was sacrificed to second by Allison Hart. Eph first year Cedar Blazek then hit a slow roller to second and was thrown out at first. However, on the play Mcgee just kept running for home and she slid into the plate ahead of the throw from Panther junior first baseman Megan Margel (Ridgewood, N.J.), tying the game 5-5 and sending it into extra innings.

            The Panthers threatened in the top of the eighth when first-year player Jessa Hoffman (Golden, Colo.) led off with a single and stole second with one out. Daub induced groundouts from Margel and junior Geena Constantin (Pelham, N.H.) to end the threat. Daub left after nine innings having allowed 11 hits and five runs, all earned, while walking four and striking out eight.

            Megan Casey took over in the top of the 10th for Williams and junior Emily Burbridge (E. Greenwich, R.I.) greeted her with a single. Burbridge was sacrificed to second and moved to third when sophomore Kira Gordon (Scarborough, Maine) beat out a bunt for a single. Margel then blooped a perfectly placed single down the left-field line to score Burbridge with the go-ahead run. With runners on second and third and one out, Casey avoided more damage when she induced a groundout for the second out and then fanned the next batter looking.

            The Ephs wasted no time trying to get the tying run across in the bottom half of the inning when Hart rocketed a ball into the left-center field gap for a double. Blazek then singled to center, and took second on the throw. After Daub grounded back to Constantin in the circle for the first out, Weston ripped a hard grounder into right field that scored both runners and gave Williams the 7-6 victory.

            Constantin took the loss for the Panthers, going all 9 1/3 innings and allowing 13 hits and seven runs, six earned, while walking just one and striking out nine. Boylan was 2-4 with three RBI for Middlebury, while sophomore Alyson Downing (Rumney, N.H.) was 2-5 with two RBI.

            Casey picked up the win for the Ephs, tossing just the one inning. Weston was 2-5 with three RBI, and Blazek 3 for 5 with one RBI. Mcgee,  Hart and Caitlyn Cain had two hits each in the win.

            Middlebury earned a split of a NESCAC West doubleheader at Williams on Friday afternoon.

            After Middlebury dispatched the Ephs 6-2 in game one, the Panthers took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning in the nightcap when an Burbridge groundout scored first-year player Emma Katz (Northridge, Calif.) from third and a wild pitch from starter Megan Casey allowed Downing to cross the plate.

            Williams came up with two in its half of the second to tie the game. With the bases loaded and one out, junior Carly Ameen hit a one-hop smash back up the middle that glanced off Middlebury junior starter Ali McAnaney's (Northbrook, Ill.) leg and rolled all the way to right field, allowing Correnti, who had singled, and Mary Beth Daub, who reached on a fielder's choice, to score.

            The Ephs then plated three runs in the bottom of the third to grab a 5-2 lead. A key error and wild pitch helped out, but Correnti and Kaitlin Dinet also had RBI-singles in the frame. Middlebury scored twice in the fifth to make it 5-4, and then nearly regained the lead in its half of the sixth, loading the bases with one out.

            However Casey, who had a gutsy win, got out of the jam, first striking out pinch hitter Boylan, then retiring Margel on a comebacker to the mound. Over seven innings, Casey allowed 10 hits and two walks while striking out three. She stranded nine Panthers on the basepaths.

            In the bottom of the sixth, Casey's teammates got her some breathing room when, with two outs, Merrilee Weston drew a walk and Blazek followed by crushing a ball to left center, well over the fence for her sixth home run of the season and a 7-4 lead. Blazek finished 2-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Dinet was 2 for 3 with an RBI. Oriana Mcgee and Allison Hart were both 2-4.

            Margel was 2-4 with an RBI in the loss, while Downing was 2-4 with two runs scored. McAnaney took the loss, allowing 11 hits over five innings while not walking a batter and striking out three.

            In the opener, Middlebury scored twice in the fourth to break open a scoreless tie, then added four in the sixth to build a commanding lead. Constantin helped her own cause in the fourth when she blasted a two-run homer to straightaway centerfield.

            The Ephs cut that deficit in half with a run in the bottom of the fourth. With two outs, Blazek lined a single and promptly stole second. She scored when Daub lined a sharp single to center.

            Downing's two-run single in the sixth capped the four run outburst for Middlebury. Williams' final run came when Blazek led off the seventh inning with a solo home run to right field.

            Constantin was the winning pitcher, going seven frames and giving up just four hits while not walking a batter and fanning 10. Daub was nearly her equal, allowing just three hits over seven innings while not walking a batter and fanning eight.

• Softball record: 15-8

• Up next: 4/21 vs. Union (2) - 3:30, 4/24 vs. Castleton (2) - 12:00