WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- Six Williams seniors were feted on Senior Day Saturday, and they celebrated by delivering many key hits and even a defensive play that will go down in Eph history as one of the best.
But there were several other heroes as well, including first-year Mackenzie Murphy, who hit a lead-off, walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the ninth in the first game to give Williams a 3-2 win and the NESCAC West Division title.
The Ephs swept Middlebury, 3-2 and 11-3, to wrap up the West and improve to 29-8 overall, 10-2 in the division. The Panthers fell to 20-11 overall, 4-7. Williams will host the 2016 NESCAC Tournament beginning Friday.
"All of our seniors have given us such great leadership, our team karma comes from them, they are the reason we can continue to come back" Ephs' head coach Kris Herman said. "At the same time, we have a really good team 1 through 19 and i thought we showed that today; everybody contributed to these wins."
The Ephs needed to win one game to win the West. In the opener, they took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth when senior Priscilla Pino launched a rocket down the left-field line that stayed fair for a solo home run, her fourth of the season.
Middlebury tied the game in the top of the fifth when Erin Giles led off with a double. Pinch runner Ande Troutman advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Sarah Freyre's groundout to second.
The Ephs regained the lead in the bottom of the fifth on senior kacey Cramer's RBI-single with one out. Runners were on first and third with one out when Freyre launched a deep fly to center field. Eph center fielder, senior Amanda Siedem, raced back to the track and reached high to snare the ball. It went as a sacrifice fly and tied the game 2-2. Panther Hye-Jin Kim then smoked a ball ticketed for the left-field corner. But Eph senior Erica Li made a twisting, full-out diving catch to snare the ball and end the inning.
It stayed 2-2 until the bottom of the ninth when Murphy crushed a 1-1 pitch deep to left for the division-winning walk-off homer. It was her team-leading sixth home run of the season and the fifth conseutive game she has connected for a homer.
Murphy was also stellar from the circle, allowing four hits over a full nine innings. She gave up two runs, but did not walk a batter and struck out seven to pick up the victory.
Pino and first year Jessica Kim were each 2 for 3 for the Ephs, while Li and Murphy were both 2 for 4.
Giles was 2 for 3 for the Panthers. Neve Stears took the loss, allowing one run in one inning of relief.
In the nightcap, the Ephs banged out 15 hits, built a 6-1 lead and won 11-3 in a game stopped in the bottom of the sixth due to the six-run mercy rule.
Li and Brenna Martinez opened the bottom of the first with back-to-back doubles, Martinez earning the RBI. After an out, Pino and senior Melissa Cendejas hit back-to-back singles, with Cendejas knocking in Martinez for a 1-0 lead.
Middlebury cut that deficit in half when Emma Hamilton led off the third with a double and scored when Siobhan O'Sullivan's grounder to short was misplayed.
The Ephs added two runs in the fourth when Siedem led off with a double and scored on Ashley Wirth's single to right field. Wirth advanced to second on the throw home, and scored when Li ripped a single off the pitcher's glove with two outs.
Williams was back at it in the fifth when Pino drew a one-out walk and Cramer hit a forzen rope deep to left-center that sizzled over the fence for a two-run home run and a 6-1 lead.
Middlebury answered with two runs in the sixth to cut the lead to 6-3 as Giles ripped a two-run single to right, but Williams answered that with five runs in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by an RBI-triple down the right-field line from senior Tayler Donze and a two-run home run to right-center by Margo Beck. Siedem's sacrifice fly scored the game-ending run.
Brooke Bovier was sharp from the circle once again for the Ephs, tossing six complete innings and giving up five hits, three runs, two earned, while walking three and striking out two.
Li was 3 for 4 for Williams and finished the doubleheader 5 for 8. Wirth was 2 for 2. Pino, Siedem and Beck each had two hits in the victory.
Allison Quigley took the loss for Middlebury, allowing two runs in 1/3 of an inning.