MIDDLETOWN, CT — Williams senior captain Erica Li led-off the bottom of the eighth inning with a solo home run to center field, giving the Ephs a walk-off, come-from-behind victory over Wesleyan in their conference opener.
The game was played at Wesleyan due to bad weather in Williamstown, but the Ephs retained the right to bat last. The two teams will meet again in Middletown Saturday for a doubleheader beginning at 12 p.m.
Williams improved to 15-5 overall, 1-0 in the NESCAC West. Wesleyan moved to 14-7, 0-2 in the division.
Li's dramatic home run — the first of her career — capped a wild game that saw five ties and five lead changes over the seven-plus frames.
"It was a barnburner," said Ephs' head coach Kris Herman. "Both teams played well, both teams fought hard, but it was a really great way for our team to open divisional play."
Trailing 7-6, the Ephs tied the game for the last time in the bottom of the fifth. With one out, Tayler Donze doubled. Li's grounder to third was misplayed, putting runners on the corners, and Alison Michalik's groundball to second base scored Donze with the tying run.
Wesleyan had a chance to re-take the lead once again in the top of the sixth, but Eph first-year hurler Mackenzie Murphy, who had come on in relief, retired Su Pardo on a grounder to first base with runners on first and second to end the inning.
Murphy then retired the Cardinals in order in both the seventh and eighth innings, striking out four in the process, to help set up Li's heroics. She earned the win by allowing two runs, both earned, on three hits, while walking two and striking out six over 4 1/3 innings.
Williams had taken a 6-5 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Lexi Curt drew a one-out walk and Jill Jenkin ran for her. Kacey Cramer singled to center sending Jenkin to third. As Cramer moved to second on the play, Jenkin raced home to tie the game at 5-all.
After a second out, Melissa Cendejas came through in the clutch with a single to right field that scored Cramer for the 6-5 lead.
Wesleyan responded with two runs in the top of the fifth to take a 7-6 lead, but it could have been more. After Molly Grunat and Izzy Linzer singled with two outs, Jamie Horn hit a three-run homer over the fence in left field for what appeared to be an 8-6 lead. But Horn was called out for failing to touch home plate, thus reducing the Cardinals' lead by a run.
Wesleyan had 10 hits in the game. Horn was 2 for 4 with three RBI while Linzer was 2 for 5 with two runs scored. Pardo had a solo home run in the second inning.
Williams had nine hits in its victory. Donze was 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored. Li hit 2 for 5 with a home run, RBI and two runs scored. Curt was 1 for 2 with a walk, double and two RBI.