WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — MacKenzie Murphy and Rebecca Duncan each pitched complete-game gems Saturday as the Williams College softball team swept a critical NESCAC West Division doubleheader from rival Amherst, 2-1 and 5-2, at Cole Field.
The sweep put the Ephs in first palce in the NNESCAC West, ran Williams' win streak to 17 games, and improved their overall mark to 24-9 and, more importantly, their division record to 7-0. Amherst saw its' 14-game win streak come to an end with the loss in the opener and fell to 23-8 overall, 9-2 in the West.
The two teams will meet for the finale of their three-games series Sunday in Amherst at 12 p.m.
Eph junior Lexi Curt was instrumental in the sweep as well, driving in teammate Kristina Alvarado with the winning run with a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh in game one, then homering in the bottom of the first inning of the nightcap to give Williams a 1-0 lead.
The Ephs broke open the nigthcap with a four-run second inning off of Amherst starter Jackie Buechler. Riley Salvo ignited the outburst with a single and Alejandra Magana drew a walk. Brenna Martinez put down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move the runners over. Alvarado then ripped a change-up to right field for an RBI-single that scored Salvo.
After Alvarado stole second, Jessica Kim drove a ball deep enough to center field that it went for a sacrifice fly. Curt was intentionally walked, and Lorena Ukanwa replaced Buechler in the circle for Amherst. Murphy greeted the new hurler with a scorching line drive to right center that scored Alvarado and Curt — all the way from first — for a 5-0 lead.
The Mammoths got a run back in the top of the third when Julia Turner led off with a double and came around to score on a single to center by Sammy Salustri.
Amherst scored again in the fifth when Turner led off with a triple down the right-field line. Lauren Tuiskula dropped a single into left to score Turner and make it 5-2. A fielder's choice and an infield single loaded the bases with no outs, but Duncan bore down and fanned Kate Kopatic for the first out, then induced two fly outs to center field to end the threat.
Duncan would retire nine of the final 10 batters she faced to close out the victory. She went the full seven innings, allowing eight hits while not walking a batter and striking out eight. Williams finished with six hits. Murphy was 2 for 3 with two RBI, Curt was 1 for 2 with an RBI and two runs scored and Alvarado was 1 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored.
Ukanwa threw 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief for the Mammoths, giving up only two hits and striking out four. Amherst had eight hits. Turner was 2 for 3 with two runs scored and Salustri was 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Game one was a pitcher's duel between Murphy and her Amherst counterpart, Gina Pagan. Williams got on the board first when Margo Beck led off the fourth inning with a long solo home run to left center.
Amherst tied the game in the top of the fifth when Andrea Sanders reached by an error, moved to second on a sacrifice and scored when Salustri ripped a two-out double to right.
The scored stayed knotted until the bottom of the seventh. With one out, Casey Pelz pinch-hit and reached on an error. Alvarado pinch-ran for her and moved to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, Curt ripped a single into left field and Alvarado scored without a throw to win the game.
Murphy went the full seven innings and scattered five hits, walked one and struck out one in the victory. Curt was 2 for 3 with an RBI.
Pagan took the loss for Amherst, going 6 2/3 and allowing five hits while walking one and striking out two. Turner was 2 for for the Mammoths.