CLERMONT, Fla. -- Not a bad way to start a season.
The No. 4 ranked Williams College softball team opened its season Sunday at the National Training Center, opening with an 8-1 victory over Manchester University and following up with a 2-0 shutout over SUNY-Fredonia to start its season 2-0. The Ephs continue their spring training trip Monday with a 9 a.m. game versus Hendrix College and an 11:30 a.m. contest against Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
"It was a good beginning," Ephs' head coach Kris Herman said. "We had a lot of contributions up and down the line-up and we're able to get a look at different combinations. Obviously, Mackenzie, Rebecca and Kirstin pitched well."
The nightcap was a pitcher's duel between the Ephs' Duncan and Fredonia's Sam Seegar. Seegar held the Ephs hitless through four innings while Duncan was equally effective, blanking the Blue Devils with seven strikeouts through four. Riley Salvo broke up Seegar's no-hit bid with a solid single up the middle in the bottom of the fifth, but the game was still scoreless heading into the Ephs' at-bats in the sixth.
Jessica Kim beat out a slap hit to the shortstop hole for a single and Lexi Curt followed with a blast to deep center field that went for a double and chased Kim to third. After an out, Herman rolled the dice, calling for Duncan to drop down a suicide squeeze. The sophomore delivered and Kim slid home with the game's first run. Margo Beck reached on catcher's obstruction and then stole second, with Curt scoring on the play when the catcher's throw to second rolled into center field.
Duncan took care of the rest from the circle, scattering four hits while walking one and striking out nine Blue Devils for her first win of the season. The Ephs had four hits in the win, one each from Brenna Martinez, Curt, Kim, and Salvo.
In the season opener, the Ephs reached Manchester starter Madisyn Walter for three runs in the top of the first inning after Kim, Curt and Mackenzie Murphy drew walks to load the bases with no outs. After an out, Margo Beck lofted a sacrifice fly to left that scored Kim. Martinez then lofted a ball into the gap that was muffed, allowing Curt and Murphy to score for a three-run lead.
The Ephs extended that lead in the second when Curt smoked a line drive solo homer to left with two outs, her first of the season after leading the Ephs last year with 10. Curt was at it again in the fourth, ripping a double to left center and scoring when Duncan sent a soft liner into right field for an RBI-single for a 5-0 lead.
In the meantime, Murphy was in control from the circle, scattering eight hits through five innings without allowing a run. Murphy did not walk a batter and struck out four, departing after five innings with the 5-0 lead. Williams immediately added two runs in the sixth. With two outs, Curt was hit by a pitch and first-year Cristine McElhinney pinch ran for her. Murphy then sizzled a line drive over the third base bag and down the left field line, allowing McElhinney to race home. Duncan then ripped a double to left that scored Murphy for a 7-0 lead.
Kirstin Mapes came on to pitch the final two innings, allowing a single run in the sixth while walking one and striking out two. The Ephs added a final run in the seventh when Martinez singled and eventually came around to score on Casey Pelz's line drive RBI-single to center.
Williams finished with 10 hits, Curt led the way going 2 for 2 with three runs scored. Murphy was 2 for 3 and Duncan 2 for 4. Mapes, Pelz, Beck and Martinez each had one hit.