WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — The Williams College softball team took advantage of some early wildness from Middlebury starter Lizzie Morris and a key first-inning error to score four runs and junior Emma Harrington made it stand up Friday as the Ephs opened a three-game series showdown for the NESCAC West Division title with a 4-3 win over the Panthers at Cole Field.
Williams improved to 21-6 overall, 9-1 in the NESCAC West, while Middlebury slipped to 17-11 and 7-3. The two teams started game two as well, but it was suspended after three innings with Williams leading 3-2. They are scheduled to resume the second game at noon Saturday and play the third following the conclusion of that.
Middlebury struck first Friday when Jackie Stern drew a one-out walk from Harrington in the top of the first and was sacrificed to second. With two outs, Hye-Jin Kim hit a grounder deep into the shortstop hole and Stern kept running as the throw went to first, scoring from second for a 1-0 lead.
But the Ephs answered quickly off Morris. Alison Michalik led off and laid down a perfect bunt for a single. Erica Li and Kacey Cramer were hit by Morris pitches to load the bases with no outs. Senior Ali Graebner came through by grounding a two-run single into right field for a 2-1 Williams lead, taking second on the throw home while Cramer advanced to third.
Mo Frank followed with a squeeze bunt, but was safe on the play as the throw from home hit her in the shoulder and bounded down the right-field line and into foul territory. Both Cramer and Graebner scored on the play for a 4-1 lead.
The Panthers fought back quickly, as Carlyn Vachow led off the second with a single. After an out, Alex Scibetta singled up the middle. After a second out, Kimber Sable rocketed a shot to deep left that went for a two-run double and made it a 4-3 ballgame.
Harrington and Morris bore down after that and it remained 4-3 as Harrington retired 10 consecutive Panthers. However, Emily Kraytenberg led off the sixth with a single to snap that streak. After Kim struck out looking, Sarah Freyre walked. Vachow flied out to center field, but Kelsey Martel won a 10-pitch battle with Harrington by lining a single to left. The ball was hit so hard that Kraytenberg had to stop at third. Harrington then won a huge battle by Scibetta by getting her to pop up to Cramer at third for the final out.
The Panthers went down 1-2-3 in the seventh as Harrington improved to 11-3. She allowed six hits over seven innings, walking two and striking out five. Morris was the hard-luck loser, allowing only four hits over six frames while walking two and striking out 10. She fell to 6-3.
Michalik was the only batter to get multiple hits in the game, going 2 for 4 with a run scored.