MEDFORD, MA -- The Williams College softball team is one win away from a fourth consecutive NESCAC Championship after holding off rival Amherst, 5-4, in a semifinal match-up at Tufts University Saturday.
The win was the 22nd in a row for the Ephs, extending their new school/program record. Overall, they improved to 33-4. Sunday's championship game against host Tufts is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m.
Williams jumped out to a 5-0 lead, first breaking through with a single run in the third when Mackenzie Murphy led off with a long triple to center field. Gabi Medvene-Cirgliano plated Murphy when she lofted a sacrifice fly to center two pitches later. The Ephs scored four more in the third to appear to take a commandign 5-0 lead. Jessica Kim led off the frame with a double down the left-field line. Rebecca Duncan followed with a hard single to right field to put runners on the corners. Duncan stole second and, after an out, Kirstin Mapes helped herself out with a long double to the fence in left-center field that scored both runners for a 3-0 lead. With two outs, Medvene-Cirigliano's grounder to short was misplayed and Mapes slid home ahead the throw for a 4-0 lead. Lorena Ukanwa replaced Talia Bloxham in the circle for the Mammoths, but Riley Salvo greeted her with a deep blast to left center that just eluded center fielder Audrey Hansen for an RBI-double and the five-run lead.
Mapes shut the Mamoths down for the first three innings, extending her scoreless innings streak to 26 consecutive innings. But Amherst put together a rally in the bottom of the fifth. Two walks and a bunt single by Andrea Sanders loaded the bases. Two sacrifice flies and a steal of home by Hansen made it a 5-3 ballgame before Mapes fanned the final batter of the frame to end it.
Amherst added a run in the sixth when Annie Murphy led off with a pinch-hit single to left and Sage Innerarity delivered a two-out, two-strike RBI-double to right center to score the fourth run. But again, Mapes remained composed and struck out the final batter as the tying run stood on second base.
In the 7th, Mackenzie Murphy came on for Mapes and retired the Mammoths in order, striking out two, to earn her first save of the season.
Williams had eight hits in the victory. Duncan and Murphy were each 2 for 4 with a run scored. Medvene-Cirigliano and Salvo were each 2 for 4 with an RBI. Mapes had two RBI and improved to 8-0 from the circle.