OKLAHOMA CITY, OK. -- The No. 19-ranked Williams College softball team opens play in the 2017 NCAA Div. III national championship round tonight at 7:30 p.m. against No. 8-ranked St. John Fisher (41-6) at OGE Energy Stadium at the USA Softball Hall of Fame Complex.
Williams will be making its first appearance in the national championship round in 11 years. This is the Ephs fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance. The Ephs have already set a single-season school record for victories with 36 and are 29-2 since April 2 with win streaks of 17 and 11 games in that time frame.
The Ephs are 5-1 in the postseason to date, having swept the Williamstown Regional with a 6-2 win over Thomas (Me.), a 6-1 win over The College of Staten Island and a 1-0 victory over RPI. They then wrapped 6-2 and 6-1 wins over Babson around a 1-0 loss in the Williamstown Super Regional to advance to the championship round.
The Cardinals are making its seventh NCAA appearance in the last 10 years and won their fifth Empire 8 Championship this season with a 2-1 win over Ithaca in the conference championship. From there, St. John Fisher defeated Penn State Behrend along with Manhattanville twice to win a Regional title and dispatched SUNY-Cortland in a best-of-three series to win the Super Regional.
Here's a closer look at the teams:
St. John Fisher:
Cardinals' junior pitcher Lindsey Thayer leads the nation in earned run average (0.42), strikeouts per seven innings (14.4) and strikeouts (417) while her 28 wins this season ranks second among all Division III pitchers. Thayer has surrendered just 73 hits in over 202 innings of work and has 23 complete games and 13 shutouts.
The Cardinals led the Empire 8 Conference in several categories including batting average (.349), hits (439), runs (299), doubles (73), triples (11), home runs (23), RBI (264), and slugging percentage (.479).
Katie Mazierski leads St. John Fisher with a .462 batting average, 40 runs scored and 61 base hits. Emma Savas is hitting .444 on the season with 52 hits and 25 RBI while sophomore Ashley Prince owns a .402 average with 51 hits including a team-leading seven home runs and 43 RBI. Julia Sortisio (.378), Sarah Kubik (.373) and Kristina Balsano (.330) have combined for 142 hits and 99 RBI.
Mazierski who was named the Empire 8's Player of the Year and Thayer the Pitcher of the Year.
The Ephs are led offensively by junior Lexi Curt, a Third Team NFCA All-American who was named the NESCAC Player of the Year. She has set single-season records at Williams this year for doubles (16) and home runs (10). Overall, Curt is leading the Ephs in batting with a .380 average, 10 home runs and 36 RBI to go with her 16 doubles.
First-year Rebecca Duncan was named the NESCAC Rookie of the Year and also a NFCA All-New England First Team selection. Named the Most Outstanding Player at the recent Williamstown (MA) Regional, she has posted a 1.55 ERA in 125.1 innings with a 16-4 record and two saves for the Ephs. She also has 122 strikeouts and has walked only 25 batters. Duncan is batting .377 with eight doubles, eight home runs and 21 RBI. She has a .675 slugging percentage.
Sophomore Mackenzie Murphy was a Second Team All-NFCA selection and a First Team All-NESCAC selection. She owns a .378 batting average, ranking third on the team, and is one of three Ephs with more than 50 hits. She has driven in 34 runs, while scoring 24. Murphy has 13 doubles, a triple and nine home runs to account for her .671 slugging percentage. She was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Super Regional.
She is also 12-4 with a 2.47 ERA and one save from the circle and already has 28 wins to her credit in less than two seasons at Williams.
In addition, sophomores Jessica Kim and Casey Pelz were named to the Williamstown Regional All-Tournament Team. Junior Brenna Martinez was selected to the NESCAC's All-Sportsmanship team Thursday. Kim leads the Ephs with 60 hits and is hitting .375 with a team-leading 14 stolen bases. Martinez is batting .290 with three home runs and 15 RBI while Pelz is hitting .276 with four home runs and 19 RBI. Junior Margo Beck had homers in two of three Super Regional contests and is batting .361 with 4 homers and 12 RBI over her last 25 games.