WHITTIER, CA — The Williams College softball team opened its 2017 season Sunday with a thrilling 6-4, 6-5 sweep of Whittier College.
After winning a tight thriller in the opener, 6-4, in nine innings, the Ephs hung on for a 6-5 victory in the nightcap when sophomore Alejandra Magana came on in the bottom of the seventh with the winning runs on base and no outs and wiggled out of the jam to perserve the victory.
Williams (2-0) is at Chapman University Monday for a twinbill beginning at 1 p.m. PST.
In Sunday's nightcap, the Ephs built a 6-2 lead over the first 6 1/2 innings, getting a big two-run single from sophomore Jessica Kim in the fifth and what turned out to be a key two-run home run from sophomore Mackenzie Murphy in the top of the seventh.
First year Rebecca Duncan gave a strong performance in her first collegiate start — she appeared in relief in game one — going six innings and allowing seven hits and a walk while striking out nine.
Senior co-captain Dana Cohen started the seventh but after a pair of walks and a hit batsmen loaded the bases, first year Riley Salvo came on. However, Marialena Ahern had an RBI-single and Natalia Sanchez lined a two-run single to cut the Ephs lead to 6-5 and put runners on first and second with no outs.
On came Magana in her first appearance of the season. The sophomore induced a fielder's choice grounder to third that resulted in a forceout, then got Kaitlyn Garza to hit a grounder to Kim at shortstop and the sophomore turned it into a game-ending double play.
Sophomore Kristina Alvarado led the Ephs' offensive production, going 2 or 2 with two walks and four runs scored. Kim was 3 for 4 with three RBI and Murphy was 2 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Duncan earned the victory, Magana the save.
The season got off to a thrilling start in game one. Williams trailed 3-2 with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Alvarado came through with an RBI-double to score Casey Pelz with the tying run. Moments later, Kim singled to center, but the Poet centerfielder threw a strike to the plate, cutting down Alvarado and preserving the tie.
With the international tiebreaker in effect to start the eighth inning, Kim was placed on second. Duncan move her to third with a groundout and first-year Ashley Conroy had a productive first collegiate at-bat by scoring Kim on a grounder.
However the Poets came back to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. Pelz started the ninth on second and was still there with two outs when Alvarado's liner to left was misplayed, allowing Pelz to score. Kim scored Alvarado with a double and a 6-4 lead.
Duncan finished off the Poets in the ninth, earning her first collegiate win with two scoreless innings of relief. She allowed one hit and walked one while striking out three. Cohen drew the start for Williams, going the first 4 1/3 innings and giving up six hits while walking one and striking out one. Salvo came on and hurled 2 2/3 innings of relief, allowing four hits and one run while walking one and striking out one.
Lexi Curt was 2 for 4 for the Ephs. Kim was 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Pelz was 1 for 3 with a solo home run and three runs scored.