WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — Emma Harrington hurled a three-hit shutout in her third complete-game effort in 24 hours Saturday afternoon as the Williams College softball team eked out a 1-0 win over Western New England in an elimination game of the NCAA Tournament's Williamstown, MA Regional at Cole Field.
The win improved Williams to 32-8 and advanced the Ephs to the championship game of the NCAA Regional Sunday at 12 p.m. The Ephs will face WPI needing to defeat the Engineers twice. In Saturday's first game, the Ephs dropped a 2-1 decision to WPI in a taut, eight-inning affair.
Harrington and Wetern New England's Heidi Grieger locked horns in an old-fashioned pitcher's duel in the second and final elimination game Saturday, although the Ephs did outhit WNE, 9-3, in the contest.
Harrington retired the first 10 batters she faced in the game until Sam Mulhern singled with one out in the bottom of the fourth. After an out and a stolen base, Harrington induced Heather Fecteau to ground to shortstop and end the inning.
Williams touched Grieger for the game's only run in the top of the fifth. Melissa Cendejas and Priscilla Pino opened the inning with singles to put runners on first and second. Lindsey Precht put down a nice sacrifice bunt to move them over before Erica Li's bad-hop single into right field scored Cendejas with the run.
One of WNE's biggest threats came in the bottom of the inning when Grace Kucharski led off with a double to right center. However a pop up and two groundouts later and Harrington had stranded the runner.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Mulhern worked a walk, but Harrington got Gabby Lavinio on a groundout to end the inning. In the bottom of the seventh, needing just a run to tie, Kucharski singled to right with one out, but Harrington got a pop up and a grounder to Kacey Cramer at third to end the contest.
Precht was 2 for 2 for Williams, while Alison Michalik was 2 for 4. Kurcharksi was 2 for 3 for WNE.
Harrington improved to 16-5 by scattering three hits, walking one and striking out three. Grieger fell to 12-7 by scrattering nine hits, walking one and striking out one.
In Saturday's first game, WPI rallied to defeat the Ephs, 2-1, in 8 inn.
Kelsey Saucier's one-out RBI-double to right-center field scored RiAnna May with the game-winning run.
WPI (33-9) advanced to the Regional championship game Sunday at 12 p.m.
May drew a lead-off walk to start the eighth. With one out Lindsay Gurska singled to left, advancing May to second. Saucier then roped a Harrington offering into right-center to send the Engineers home winners.
Williams took a 1 -0 lead in the top of the first. Ali Michalik led off the game with a double to center field. She advanced to third on a wild pitch from Saucier. The next batter, Mo Frank hit a dribbler up the middle, past the diving shortstop, to reach first and bring home Michalik for the Eph's first run. Frank speedily stole second to put the Ephs in scoring position. A hard hit single between shortstop and third base puts Lexi Curt on base and advanced Frank to third. With two outs, Kacey Cramer walked to laded the Lindsey Precht flew out to left to end the frame.
WPI tied things up in the bottom of the sixth. At the start of the frame Frank flagged down a long line drive to right center off the bat of Gallagher. But Harrington hit Bumila and sent her to first. With one out May doubled to left field, brought Bumila home with the tying run.
Saucier went 2 for 3 with a walk and RBI. She also went the first five innings, allowing four hits, walking two and striking out three. Caroline Medino earned the win, tossing three innings of shutout relief, allowing three hits and one walk while fanning two while impriving to 8-3.
Williams had seven hits. Curt led charge, going 4 for 4. Harrington took the loss, going 7 1/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two runs while walking five and striking two.