HADLEY, Mass. - The NESCAC Softball Championship returns to Williams for the first time since 2010, as the No. 1 seed from the West Division welcomes Bowdoin, Middlebury and Tufts to campus for the 2014 championship.
"We're excited to have earned the right to host the NESCAC Tournament," said Eph head coach Kris Herman. "Cole Field is a great venue and we know that the Williams and Williamstown communities will love to see the great softball that the NESCAC offers. Congrats to our players for a great season thus far, especially Theresa Legan and Ali Graebner, our seniors who have done a great job leading this team for a full year."
All games may be seen online through the services of the Northeast Sports Network > CLICK HERE.
Game one gets underway in Williamstown, Mass. on Friday with the host Ephs taking on Bowdoin at 2:30 p.m. The Jumbos and the Panthers will clash in the nightcap beginning at 5 p.m. Action continues on Saturday, May 3, and concludes on Sunday, May 4.
Middlebury and Williams had already clinched their berths into the championship heading into the last weekend of West Division play. However, the No. 1 seed had yet to be determined as both teams battled in the crucial series to determine hosting rights for the championship. The Panthers traveled to Williams, where the Ephs pulled out the first two games by the scores of 4-3 and 5-4 to lock up the number-one seed in the West Division.
Heading into the final weekend of play, Tufts swept its three-game series against Colby to clinch the top seed from the East Division. For the third straight season, the Jumbos rolled through the conference divisional schedule with a perfect record and has now won 37 straight NESCAC East games. Bowdoin needed a pair of wins in its last four games to grab the last berth, which it received after taking all three games from Bates.
Williams (22-7, 10-2 NESCAC West) has played well down the stretch, winning 15 of its last 17 games dating back to March 30, including a doubleheader sweep over Tufts on April 5 and taking 2-of-3 from Middlebury.
Williams is returning to the NESCAC Championship for the first time since 2011, while making its 12th overall appearance. At the plate, senior Ali Graebner (Short Hills, N.J.) leads the Ephs in runs (26), RBI (23) and hits (38) to go along with a stellar .422 batting average.
Williams has two pitchers that have shared the bulk of the pitching responsibilities. Junior Emma Harrington (Columbus, Ohio) boasts a 11-4 record with a 1.66 ERA over 88.1 innings, while striking out 65 batters. She is joined by Brooke Bovier (Port Orange, Fla.), who has had a strong rookie campaign for the Ephs. Bovier sports an 8-2 record with a 3.00 ERA in 58.1 innings of work. She has also struck out 43 batters.
Middlebury (18-12, 8-4 NESCAC West), which is making its fourth straight NESCAC Championship appearance, won its lone conference crown in 2011. Last season, the Panthers fell one game short of appearing in their third straight final after suffering a 5-1 loss to Bowdoin.
This season, Middlebury went 6-6 in March, but responded by winning 10 of its next 12 to get back on track. Leading the charge for the Panthers has been junior pitcher Elizabeth Morris (Kenilworth, Ill.) has been the top hurler in the rotation for Middlebury. Morris (7-3) boasts a 1.22 ERA over the course of 69.0 innings with 75 strikeouts to 12 walks. Offensively, first-year Sarah Freyre (Jackson, N.J.) has recorded team highs of 26 hits, 10 doubles, two home runs and tied for a team-best 18 RBI.
Defending national champion Tufts (32-3, 12-0 NESCAC East) is looking to hoist its third straight trophy to match its' streak from 2007-09.
As the only team to qualify for the tournament every year, the Jumbos are looking for their eighth all-time championship title, most of any NESCAC school.
After three-game sweeps of Bates and Trinity, the Jumbos officially earned a spot in the tournament with a sweep of Colby. Tufts wrapped up a perfect conference slate on Sunday by defeating Bowdoin.
The Jumbos have two pitchers that have split time in the circle in junior Allyson Fournier (South Windsor, Conn.) and senior Lauren Giglio (Niskayuna, N.Y.). Fournier leads the NESCAC with a 0.35 ERA and 192 strikeouts, while posting a 14-0 record with a perfect game and an opposing batting average of only .087, while Giglio is third with a 1.17 ERA and 119 strikeouts to go with a 12-1 mark.
Offensively, Tufts is led by senior Jo Clair (Glastonbury, Conn.), who has a batting average of .455 and a staggering slugging percentage of .980, as she leads the conference with 14 home runs, 41 RBI and 99 total bases.
Bowdoin (22-12, 8-4 NESCAC East) is making its third straight appearance in the NESCAC Championship and fourth in five years.
Last season, the Polar Bears won their first tournament games since 2010 to advance to the final where they lost to Tufts. Bowdoin started strong going 5-1 in its first two divisional schedule by taking 2-of-3 from Trinity and sweeping Colby before wrapping up the regular season with a pair of wins against Bates.
Bowdoin has three pitchers that have won at least six games apiece. Senior Melissa DellaTorre (Scarborough, Maine) is 8-4 in 16 appearances with a 1.42 ERA and 81 strikeouts, while sophomore Julia Geaumont (Saco, Maine) is 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA and first-year Emily Griffin (Tucson, Ariz.) has a 2.48 ERA and 50 strikeouts.
Junior Adriane Krul (Ashburnham, Mass.) has provided a spark at the plate, leading the Polar Bears in batting average (.377), runs (27), RBI (24) stolen bases (13) and doubles (13).
The top two teams in the East and West divisions qualify for the NESCAC Softball Championship. The host site rotates between the two divisions each year, with the number-one seed in the West Division playing host this season.
After the conclusion of Friday's games, the first elimination game will be played between the first day losers on Saturday morning, followed by the first day winners. Saturday's late game will feature an elimination game between the game three winner and the loser of game four.
The championship on Sunday will include that last team standing on Saturday and the lone undefeated team in the tournament. If necessary, a second game will be played in the result of the undefeated team dropping Sunday's opener.
|Day 1 - Friday, May 2|
|hosted by Williams
Game 1 - Williams (W1) vs. Bowdoin (E2) - 2:30 p.m.
Game 2 - Tufts (E1) vs. Middlebury (W2) - 5 p.m.
|Day 2 - Saturday, May 3|
hosted by Williams
|Day 3 - Sunday, May 4|
|hosted by Williams
Game 6 - Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5 - 10 a.m.