WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — For 12 innings Saturday, it has been nothing but goose eggs for the Williams College softball team.
But the never-say-die Ephs produced a rally for the ages in the bottom of the sixth of Game 3 of their NCAA Div. III Tournament Super Regional against Babson, scoring six times to stun the Beavers and walk away 6-1 victors.
Their prize will be a trip to Oklahoma City, where play in the 2017 national championship round will begin Thursday, May 25th. Williams (36-11) will face St. John Fisher (41-6) in their first game.
This will be the Ephs third national championship round appearance and first in 11 years. They went back-to-back in 2005 and 2006. The 6-1 victory was the 36th this season for Williams, which set a new single-season mark at the school, surpassing the 2016 team which posted 35 victories.
"I'm just so happy for and proud of our seniors, who have led us all season on and off the field," said Ephs' head coach Kris Herman. "But this was another weekend where our entire team contributed. I'm so impressed with our pitch-by-pitch approach, we never got down and kept fighting the entire day."
Babson had forced the winner-take all Game 3 with a 1-0 victory in the first game on Saturday, getting a three-hit shutout from junior pitcher Ali Reilly and an RBI-double from Jacqueline Paul in the second inning, spoiling a superb pitching performance by Williams senior Brooke Bovier in her final start at Cole Field.
Beaver head coach Dave Canan turned to Reilly for the start of decisive Game 3 and the right-hander picked up where she left off, serving the Ephs nothing but zeroes for four innings — and getting a huge assist from Kayla Schinik, who robbed Eph Margo Beck of a two-run homer in the fourth when she reached over the fence in center field and snared the ball.
Eph sophomore Mackenzie Murphy was equally effective as she blanked the Beavers through five 2/3 innings, giving up just two hits and one walk over that span. But with two outs in the top of the sixth, Babson senior Leslie Moore smoked a line drive home run to left to give the Beavers a 1-0 lead.
Babson had turned to Brooke Stock after the fourth and final shutout frame of Reilly's day and she had blanked the Ephs in the fifth. But Jessica Kim led off the sixth by beating out a slow grounder to second on a bang-bang play at first. She stole second with Lexi Curt at the dish and took third on a wild pitch. Curt then ripped a wicked one-hopper to third that Ashley Tango snared. Tango dove for Kim as she had come off the bag, but the speedster got back to third just ahead of the tag. That brought up Murphy, later named the Super Regional's Most Outstanding Player. She drove a stacked pitch deep to right center that clanged off the top of the fence, tying the game and sending Curt to third.
Canan turned to Reilly in the circle once more, but an error on Rebecca Duncan's grounder to short allowed Curt to score the go-ahead run. Brenna Martinez followed with a single up the middle to score Murphy for a 3-1 lead. Beck put an exclamation mark on the comeback when she hit Reilly's next offering well over the fence in left center for a three-run blast that made it 6-1.
Stock took the loss, allowing two hits and three runs, two earned, in an inning of work. Murphy improved to 12-4 for the Ephs, allowing three hits and one run over six frames while walking one and striking out one.
Murphy and Martinez were both 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored, while Kim was 2 for 4 and Beck 1 for 3 with three RBI.