CLERMONT, Fla. — The Williams College softball team literally walked off their 16-game Florida trip.
Casey Pelz drew a one-out bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday to give the Ephs a 4-3 win over Buffalo State after an earlier cliffhanger also went their way in the form of a 5-3 victory — their second of the trip — over Wisconsin-Whitewater.
The Ephs head home to New England with a 13-3 record. They are at Hamilton Friday for a 5 p.m. game as they open conference play. They have a doubleheader scheduled at Hamilton Saturday beginning at 12 p.m.
Both games Tuesday came down to the final at-bat. Whitewater loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh in the first game and pushed one run across before Mackenzie Murphy induced a forceout grounder to third that Riley Salvo collected and stepped on the bag to seal the win.
Williams had come-from-behind to take the lead. Trailing 2-0 early, the Ephs scored two in the third, two in the fourth and one in the fifth to build a 5-2 lead. Jessica Kim jumpstarted the rally in the third with a single and went to third when Murphy followed with a double. Kirstin Mapes plated the first run with a grounder, and after an out, Margo Beck lined an RBI-single to tie the contest. In the fourth, Gabi Medvene-Cirigliano opened the frame with a single and Jenny Hickey followed with another. Kim's deep fly ball to center advanced the runners to second and third and Murphy delivered again, socking a two-run double to put Williams up 4-2.
A Brenna Martinez sacrifice fly scored Beck in the fifth with an additional run. Murphy made it stand up, weaving in and out of trouble until the seventh, when a double, an error and a single loaded the bases for Whitewater with one out. Coming back from a 3-0 count, Murphy induced a pop up to second on a 3-2 pitch for the second out, walked in a run to make it 5-3, then got the grounder to third to wiggle out of the jam. She went the full seven innings, allowing 10 hits and three runs, two earned, while walking the one batter and striking out two.
Four errors against Buffalo State put the outcome in question for Williams. The Ephs took a 1-0 lead in the first when Kim singled, stole second, and scored on a one-out triple to right by Mapes. But Buffalo State rallied for two runs in the top of the fifth to take a 2-1 lead on a two-out error, followed by a walk, followed by a two-run error. It stayed 2-1 until the bottom of the seventh when Medvene-Cirigliano crushed a double to center field with one out. She advanced to third on a passed ball and scored the tying run when Salvo lofted a sacrifice fly to left.
The international tiebreaker rule went into effect for the eighth innings and Buffalo State took advantage of the placed runner. After a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third, consecutive singles plated the go-ahead run. But Williams took advantage of some sloppiness by the visitors to battle back. Kim started the bottom of the eighth on second. Murphy reached first on an error as Kim moved to third. Mapes then reached on a second error as Kim scored the tying run. Beck's single to right loaded the bases and, after an out, Pelz drew the walk that forced pinch runner Emma Corbett home with the winning run.
Rebecca Duncan made a relief appearance and picked up the win, going 1 2/3 innings and giving up two hits and an unearned run while walking one and striking out one. Mapes started for Williams, going 6 1/3 and allowing only three hits and two runs, both unearned, while walking three and striking out eight. Medvene-Cirigliano led the Ephs at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a run scored.