WILLIAMSTOWN, MA — Senior Brenna Martinez ignited a five-run rally with a three-run home run Saturday and sophomore Rebecca Duncan twirled a complete-game four-hitter as the Williams College softball team eliminated Tufts, 5-1, in a NESCAC Tournament semifinal played at host Amherst College.
Earlier in the day, Williams knocked out Trinity via a 7-1 score in the quarterfinals. The Ephs will face Bowdoin in the championship game Sunday at 10 a.m. They improved to 34-6 on the season with the two victories. Williams is the two-time defending champion of the NESCAC Tournament.
In the win over Tufts, the Ephs trailed 1-0 after a solo home run in the top of the fourth by Jumbo Emma Della Volpe. But the Ephs were able to get to the conference leader in ERA, Tufts' freshman Kristi Van Meter, in their half by producing a little two-out magic. Mackenzie Murphy led off with a single but was erased on a forceout on a grounder by Duncan. With two outs, Margo Beck ripped a single to left to put runners on first and second and bring up Martinez. She worked the count to 3-2 before hammering a pitch to deep left that easily cleared the fence for a three-run homer and a two-run Eph lead.
Casey Pelz kept things going by ripping a double into the gap in left-center field. Riley Salvo followed with a line drive RBI-single to right center to make it 4-1. Jessica Kim lined a single to deep right that chased Salvo to third and took second on the throw. Lexi Curt then hit a soft blooper to short and reached on a misplay as Kim scored for a 5-1 advantage.
Tufts put runners on first and second with two outs in the top of the seventh, but Duncan fanned Raven Fournier to end the contest. The Ephs' right-hander allowed four hits and three walks over seen innings while striking out three. One of the most key sequences in the game came in the top of the first when an infield single and back-to-back batters hit by Duncan offerings loaded the bases for the Jumbos with no outs. But Duncan got a foul out not quite deep enough to left for the first out. Sarah Finnigan then grounded a ball to third that Pelz snared and fired to Curt at the plate for the forceout. Duncan then induced an infield pop up to end the inning.
The Ephs had eight hits in the victory. Beck was 2 for 2 with a run scored and Kim went 2 for 4. Della Volpe was 2 for 3 for Tufts. Van Meter took the loss, allowing eight hits over six innings while walking two and striking out six. She gave up five runs, four earned.
The Ephs moved past Trinity 7-1 in the quarterfinals, using another five-run outburst to propel them into the semifinals. This time in came in the bottom of the second, when they scored five times on three hits. Kirstin Mapes led off with a well-placed bloop single to center and took second on a wild pitch. Duncan then hit a comebacker that resulted in a throwing error, allowing Mapes to score and herself to take second. Beck drew a walk and Martinez grounded a single through the left side to load the bases.
Pelz and Salvo were then hit by back-to-back pitches to force home two runs and give Williams a 3-0 lead. Kim and Curt then drove home runs with back-to-back sacrifice flies, Curt's a long drive to straightaway center that was snared at the fence.
After Trinity scored its only run of the game in the top of the fourth when Cassidy Schiff led off with a double and came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Katie Haghdan, the Ephs answered with a run of their own when Pelz blasted a solo home run to left center in the bottom of the frame. The Ephs final run came in the fifth when Duncan doubled with two outs and came around to score on an error.
Murphy had some early-inning magic much like Duncan, as she stranded five runners in the first two innings. She improved to 14-1 by allowing six hits over seven innings, just one run, while walking two and fanning four. Salvo was 2 for 2 for the Ephs, while Pelz was 1 for 2 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.