OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Williams head coach Kris Herman doesn't believe her team is never-say-die.
She simply believes they are a softball team that just plays softball regardless of the situation, and one that plays it very well.
That much was evident Sunday when the Ephs -- against the same hurler who no-hit them three days earlier -- rallied from a four-run deficit and had the tying run on third and the winning run on first when Mackenzie Murphy's bullet line drive into right center was snagged to end the game.
The 4-3 loss to St. John Fisher was as much a testament to the 38-13 season the Ephs put together as any victory was. The 38 wins is a new school record, and the two wins in the national championship tournament were the first ever in the program's third visit.
Williams's record after April 1 was 31-4 and the Ephs lost those four games by a grand total of five runs.
Sunday's game was scoreless for the first two frames as Cardinal Lindsey Thayer and Williams hurler Murphy limited opportunities.
St. John Fisher broke through in the home half of the third inning with three runs on four hits to open up a three-run lead. Kristina Balsano got things started with an infield single before Julia Sortisio moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt. Katie Mazierski kept the momentum going after beating out an infield single to third to put two on with one away. Ashley Prince stepped in and ripped a double down the left field line that scored Balsano before Sarah Kubik belted a two-run single up the middle to make it 3-0 in Fisher's favor.
In the top of the fifth, Williams threatened after putting two on after Margo Beck led off with a line drive single to right and Casey Pelz followed with a walk. Thayer was able to escape the threat however, thanks to a fly out to center field followed by a strikeout and a lineout to Kubik to keep it at 3-0.
The Cardinals added a run in the bottom of the fifth when Kubik slugged a solo home run to straightaway center field off Eph reliever Brooke Bovier.
The Williams comeback began in earnest in the top of the sixth when Lexi Curt drew a one-out walk. After Murphy's grounder forced Curt at second, Duncan ripped a liner into the left-center field gap that allowed Murphy to score and make it a 4-1 game.
The seventh began with Thayer walking Pelz for the second time. After falling behind 0-2, Brenna Martinez fought back and ripped a liner down the left-field line. Riley Salvo followed with a ground ball single through the right side that loaded the bases.
After a strikeout, Jessica Kim came through with a two-run single to center that made it a 4-3 game and left runners on first and third with just one out. But Thayer got Curt to pop up to first in foul territory for the second out. That brought up Murphy, who scalded a ball toward right center, but it was flagged down by Sortisio to end the game.
Both teams finished with six hits. Murphy took the loss -- her first since March -- pitching 2 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on four hits while walking one and striking out no one. Bovier threw 2 1/3 innings and allowed two hits and a run while walking no one and striking out one. Duncan finished up her stellar first season with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, walking one and striking out one, and also went 2 for 3 at the plate with an RBI.
Kim was 1 for 4 with two RBI while Beck, Salvo and Martinez each had one hit for Williams.
Kubik was 2 for 4 with three RBI for the Cardinals while Thayer went the full seven, giving up six hits and three walks while striking out 10 en route to her 31st victory.