WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — Rebecca Duncan's two-strike, two-out bloop single to center in the bottom of the seventh inning scored pinch-runner Jenny Hickey from second with the winning run as the Williams College softball team came from behind to edge NESCAC West Division rival Middlebury, 7-6, Friday at Cole Field.
The Ephs improved to 24-6 overall, 7-3 in the NESCAC West, while the Panthers slipped to 13-8 overall, 2-4 in divisional play. The two teams are scheduled to play a doubleheader Saturday back at Cole Field beginning at 12 p.m.
Friday, Williams found itself down 5-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, but scored four runs -- on the strength of a Casey Pelz grand slam home run - in their half and added two in the bottom of the fifth to take a 6-5 lead. Middlebury rallied for a single run in the top of the sixth when Ali Della Volpe stroked a triple to right field and scored when Emily Moore grounded a two-out, two-strike seeing-eye single to right field to tie the game at six.
The Ephs winning rally in the seventh was started by senior Lexi Curt, who stroked a one-out double down the left-field line off Middlebury pitcher Emily Morris. Mackenzie Murphy's liner to right was caught for the second out, but Duncan battled Morris for seven pitches before blooping a ball into shallow center that found green grass just in front of a hard-charging Della Volple as Hickey raced home withe deciding run.
Middlebury took a 3-0 lead in the second off Eph starter Murphy. Melanie Mandell led off with a single and was sacrificed to second. Kaylee Gumm drew a walk before Taylor Gardner got all of an offering and drove it over the left-field fence for a three-run homer. The Panthers added two in the fourth when Della Volpe and Olivia Bravo connected for perfectly placed two-out, RBI-singles to center.
The Ephs' comeback began in their half of the fourth when Murphy grounded a single to left and, with two outs, Riley Salvo grounded a single to left. Brenna Martinez drew a walk from Panther starter Irene Margiotta to load the bases, and Pelz followed with a sizzling frozen rope to center that did not have enough time to lose altitude before it cleared the fence for a grand slam home run. That brought on Morris for Middlebury, but the Ephs were able to reach her for two runs in the fifth when Jessica Kim ripped a double off the top of the fence in center and went to third on Curt's single to left. A beautiful squeeze bunt by Murphy scored Kim with the tying run, and Curt scored when a pick-off throw to third hit her and rolled away, allowing the senior to scamper home with the go-ahead tally.
Each team had nine hits in the game. Mandell was 3 for 4 with two runs scored for the Panthers. Della Volpe was 2 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored. Pelz was 2 for 3 with 4 RBI and a run scored for Williams. Curt was 2 for 4 with a run scored. Murphy improved to 9-1 in the circle, going the distance (seven innings) and allowing nine hits and six runs, all earned, while walking two and striking out six. Morris took the loss, giving up three runs, two earned, on four hits over three full frames. She did not walk a batter and struck out four.