MIDDLEBURY, VT. — One run was all Williams first year pitcher Rebecca Duncan needed Friday afternoon.
An unearned run in the first inning proved to be the difference, as the Ephs edged Middlebury, 1-0, in the opener of a three-games series. The Panthers (17-12-1, 4-6) and Ephs (25-10, 8-1) return to the field on Saturday and will conclude their divisional series with a doubleheader beginning at 11:00 a.m.
Friday, Williams opened the scoring with a run in the top of the first, when Jessic Kim reached on an error, stole second, and scored when Mackenzie Murphy doubled to the gap in right center with one out.
In the fifth inning, the Panthers used a key defensive play to prevent the Ephs from adding to their advantage. Williams placed runners on the corners with one out, when Rebecca Duncan hit a ground ball to second base which fielded was by Panther Olivia Bravo. Bravo quickly fired a strike to catcher Liza Tarr, who applied to tag at the plate to a sliding Kim. Middlebury pitcher Allison Quigley got out of the inning, getting Margo Beck to ground out and end the threat.
Middlebury looked to tie the game in the sixth as Melanie Mandell singled with one out, but Duncan got out of the jam when Sarah Freyre hit a liner to short that Kim snared and fired to first for an inning-ening double play.
Quigley retired Williams in order in the top of the seventh, but Duncan returned the favor in the latter half of the inning, closing out the 1-0 win.
In the circle for the Panthers, Quigley (8-8) took the loss despite one of her best outings of the season. She gave up six hits and one unearned run, while striking out six. Duncan (11-4) scattered four hits with seven strikeouts and no walks as she improved to 11-4 on the season.
Murphy went 2-3 with a double and a RBI for Williams, while Mandell went 2-3 for Middlebury