CLINTON, N.Y. -- With the count of one ball and two strikes, Williams senior Mackenzie Murphy took ball two. She took ball three. She fouled off the first 3-2 pitch. And another. And a third. And then Murphy struck, sending a ball into orbit, soaring over the 215-foot sign in left center and into the rainy mist. Her two-out, two-strike, three-run, bottom-of-the-seventh home run tied Monday's NCAA Tournament, Div. IIi Regional championship game at 8-all.
Two innings later, Murphy's walk-off single into right field scored classmate Kristina Alvrado as the Eph captured the 2019 NCAA Div. III Tournament Cortland, N.Y. Regional championship with a 9-8 victory over SUNY-Cortland. Murphy's single put the exclamation point on a remarkable, albeit crazy, weekend for the Ephs (36-5), who will face Ithaca College in an NCAA Tournament Super Regional next weekend.
After rain washed out the regional championship game Sunday, the game was moved to Hamilton College early Monday morning and played through intermittent steady rain. The Red Dragons built an early 4-0 lead, scoring twice in the first on a Alyssa Finno two-run single and twice in the third when Sabrina Caputo grounded an RBI-double down the left-field line and Hannah Feldman lined an RBI-single to center.
Williams comeback began Jenny Hickey singled lead off the bottom of the third, was sacrificed to second by Alvarado and scored on Jessica Kim's two-out single to right field. The Ephs took a 5-4 lead with a four-run bottom of the fifth inning. Hickey reached on an error, Alvarado walked and Rebecca Duncan lined a single to center to loaded the bases for Kim, who promptly cleared them with a shot into the right-center field gap that went for a three-run double and tied the game, 4-4. Murphy plated Kim with a sacrifice fly to right for a 5-4 lead moments later.
In the Cortland seventh, the visitors had a runner on first with one out when Hickey fielded a grounder that, for a moment, appeared to started a 4-6-3 double play and give the Ephs the title. But the umpire ruled the runner safe at second. After a walk, Skyler Hoyt's grounder resulted in a throwing error that tied the game, and Tori Scharff lined a two-run single to center to give Cortland a 7-5 lead.
Trailing 8-5 entering the bottom of the seventh, the Ephs rallied once again. Alvarado drew a lead-off walk and Duncan blooped a single to short. Kim sacrificed the runners to second and third. After a strikeout, Murphy's epic at-bat resulted in the three-run homer that tied the game.
Duncan, who had thrown 6 innings in relief of starter Kirstin Mapes, was relieved by Murphy with one out in the seventh, came back out to the circle for the top of the eighth. Cortland put runners on first and second with one out. But Duncan struck out the next two batters to end the threat. The Ephs went in order in their half of the eighth, In the Red Dragons ninth, tey put a runner on second with one out again. A two-out error put runners on the corners, but Duncan induced a pop up to third baseman Casey Pelz to end the inning.
Alvarado jumpstarted the Ephs' winning rally when she lined a two-strike change-up into right. Sensing an opportunity, the Ephs' speedster turned thr hit into a hustle double. Duncan laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt that moved Alvarado to third. Semi-intentional and intentional walks to Kim and Mara Kipnis loaded the bases for Murphy, who hit a frozen rope to right center that scored Alvarado with the winning run.
Duncan, who wound up throwing a total of eight innings over two different stints in the circle, improved to 14-2 with the win. She allowed nine hits and three walks while striking out nine. Only three of the four runs charged to her were earned. She was named the Regional's Most Outstanding Player. At the plate, Murphy went 3 for 4 with 5 RBI and a run scored. Kim was 2 for 3 with 4 RBI and a run scored. Duncan was 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Alvarado was 1 for 1 with three runs scored. Murphy, Kim and Pelz were selected for the All-Regional Team.
Camille Desrochers (Framingham St.)
MaryClaire Grosvenor (St. John Fisher)
Sarah Kubik (St. John Fisher)
Taylor Felicello (Cortland)
Kelly O'Gorman (Cortland)
Sabrina Caputo (Cortland)
Casey Pelz (Williams)
Mackenzie Murphy (Williams)
Jessica Kim (Williams)
Most Outstanding Player - Rebecca Duncan (Williams)