HADLEY, MA -- Williams College senior Erica Li (Salt Lake City, UT) was selected as the 2016 New England Small College Athletic Conference's Co-Player of the Year, it was announced Wednesday.
Li is the third Eph to earn the award, joining Joey Lye (2009) and Allison Hart (2012).
Williams first year Mackenzie Murphy (Diablo, CA) was chosen as the NESCAC Pitcher of the Year. Both Li and Murphy were First Team All-NESCAC selections. Senior Melissa Cendejas (Rosemead, CA) and sophomore Lexi Curt (Moorpark, CA) were both voted Second Team Al-Conference.
"This year's success has been a result of a great team effort by many, and a number of extraordinary performances," Eph head coach Kris Herman said.
Li paces the conference in hits (62) and runs scored (43). In addition ,she is the only Eph to see action in every game this season, and helped the Ephs win their first NESCAC Championship since 2006. In addition to leading the NESCAC in hits and runs scored, the first-time First Team All-NESCAC selection is second in the league in total bases (91), fourth in batting average (.428) and one of three players to register six triples.
She is also equally strong defensively in left field, as she committed just one error in 52 chances for a .981 fielding percentage. That one error came as a catcher.
"Erica Li is having a record setting year deserving of the player of the year honor," Herman said. "Her play on both sides of the ball has been amazing this year -- she's made game saving catches, made outstanding throws consistently and hit walk-off home runs while making all of the routine plays and leading the team in other ways on the field. Congrats to her on a fantastic year."
Murphy became the third rookie in league history to be chosen as NESCAC Pitcher of the Year alongwith Colby's Lauren Olmsted (2003) and Tufts' Allyson Fournier (2012).
Murphy has posted a league-low 2.31 ERA in 100 innings, a 14-3 record and two saves for the NCAA Tournament-bound Ephs. Her 14 wins rank second in the conference, while she ranks third with 76 strikeouts.
Offensively, the First Team All-NESCAC Selection has recorded nine doubles, six home runs and a triple en route to a .776 slugging percentage, which is second-highest in the conference. Murphy is also third in the league with a .435 batting average and tied for third with 32 RBIs. She joins Clara Hard (2004-06) as the only Williams pitchers to garner the accolade.
"Mackenzie has been dominant at the plate as well as on the mound," Herman said. "Her versatility makes her a great team member, and her demeanor really serves her well in pressure situations."
A senior first baseman, Cendejas is currently hitting .351, a career-high. Her on-base percentage
of .465 is fifth on the team, and her 16 walks tops the squad. She also has five doubles and 16 RBI. In addition, she has a .989 fielding percentage at first base.
"Melissa made a real, intentional effort to improve her game, especially as a hitter, to stay healthy, and to serve her team," Herman said. "She has done a great job all year as a consistent defender and is having her best year at the plate. her vocal leadership on the field also provides a boost to our team.
Curt is having a second straight strong season for the Ephs. The sophomore catcher is third on the team and seventh in the conference with a .415 batting average; second on the team and fifth in the conference with a 486 OBP; third on the team and fourth in the conference with a .723; tied for first on the team and third in the conference in home runs with six and tied for first on the team and sixth in the conference with 11 doubles. She is also second on the Ephs with 31 RBI, which is tied for sixth in the conference.
"Lexi continues to impress as a hitter and behind the plate," Herman said. "Her power is impressive and she makes other teams think about her and those around her in the batting order. She thinks the game well and is a leader with her enthusiasm behind the plate."
Williams (32-9) is hosting an NCAA Regional beginning Friday, May 13 and running through Sunday, May 15. The Ephs play Johnson & Wales Friay at 4 p.m., after a contest between M.I.T. and Western Connecticut at 1:30 p.m.