CORTLAND, N.Y. -- There are games so epic, so memorable words cannot do them justice.
The Williams College softball team played such a game Saturday, rallying from deficits three times and escaping a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the seventh to defeat St. John Fisher, 12-10, in eight innings in Game 3 of the NCAA Div. III Tournament Cortland, N.Y. Regional. With the win, the Ephs (35-5) are into the championship round of the regional and need to win one game Sunday to capture the regional title.
The Ephs will face regional host SUNY-Cortland at 12 p.m.. The Red Dragons (31-15) won two elimination games Saturday, defeating Framingham State 4-1 and St. John Fisher, 9-1, to advance.
Williams trailed 10-9 entering the top of the seventh when sophomore Jenny Hickey, with one out, picked the opportune time to connect for her first collegiate home run, a blast to left that tied the game 10-10. The Cardinals quickly put the deadlock in jeopardy, loading the bases with no outs in their half of the frame, but Eph junior Kirstin Mapes remained composed and fanned the next batter on a 2-2 pitch. She then got the dangerous Ashley Prince on three pitches for out number two and then struck out the even-more-dangerous and all-time St. John Fisher RBI leader Sarah Kubik -- who was 3 for 3 with six RBI already in the game -- to keep the Ephs' hopes alive.
Rebecca Duncan led off the Ephs' eighth inning with a liner to left center that went for a double. Jessica Kim sacrificed her to third before first-year Mara Kipnis crushed a towering drive to center field that hit off the base of the fence for an RBI-double and an 11-10 lead. Mackenzie Murphy gave the Ephs a cushion when she lofted a ball down the right-field line that fell in for an RBI-double.
SJFU threatened once again in its half of the eighth, placing runners on first and second with one out. But Mapes induced a shallow fly to Duncan in right and then a fly ball to left center that Kirstina Alvarado tracked down to end the contest and set up a jubliant Eph celebration near the circle.
Williams had fallen behind when Kubrik hit a two-run homer off of Murphy in the first, but came back to tie the game when sophomore Dacia Green lined a two-run single in the top of the second. They took a 4-2 lead in the third when Murphy singled to right and with two outs, senior Casey Pelz drove a ball over the fence in left-center for her fourth home run of the season and a 4-2 Eph lead. Williams added two more in the fourth when Green led off the frame with a single and was sacrificed to second by Alvarado. Duncan doubled pinch-runner Jill Jenkin home for a 5-2 lead and Jessica Kim single to right to place runners on the corners. Kipnis scored Duncan with a sacrifice fly to right.
The Cardinals rallied for six runs in the fifth to take an 8-6 lead. Kubrik tied the game with a grand slam home run. After a two-out error, Cardinal catcher MaryClaire Grosvenor slammed a two-run homer for the lead.
The Ephs answered back in the top of the sixth. Alvarado and Duncan opened the inning with back-to-back singles. Kim sacrificed them to second and third before Kipnis walked to load the bases. Murphy lined a shot to left that was snared at the final moment but scored Alvarado on a sacrifice fly that made it 8-7. Mapes then ripped a single to left that scored both runners for a 9-8 Williams lead.
St. John Fisher answered in its half of the sixth, getting RBI-singles from Sammie Torlish and Sam Schermerhorn with two outs to take a 10-9 lead, setting up Hickey and Mapes seventh-inning heroics.
Williams had 17 hits in the win. Duncan was 3 for 4 with two doubles, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. Pelz was 3 for 4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored and her home run. Murphy was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. Green was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI. Kim was 2 for 3. Mapes was 2 for 5 with 2 RBI and earned the victory from the circle, pitching three innings and allowing six hits and two runs while walking three and striking out four. She improved to 9-0 on the season.