TYLER, TX. -- If it were a fish, the Williams College softball team would throw it back in the water and move on.
As it was, the Ephs opener at the 2019 Div. III national championships was a case of missed opportunities, as they fell to Texas Lutheran University, 7-1, on Suddenlink Field on the campus of the University of Texas-Tyler Thursday afternoon.
The loss will pit the Ephs, now 38-6, against St. Thomas Friday morning at 11 in an elimination game.
"We didn't play the game we wanted to play and they didn't either, but they were able to capitalize on our mistakes and obviously hit a couple of long balls," Ephs' head coach Kris Herman said.
Madisyn Cates went 4 for 4 to spearhead the Bulldogs' attack, which included home runs from Kayla Oliveira and Phoebe Snow. The Ephs managed six hits, but left 10 runners on base in the contest, including four in the opening two innings when the game was still scoreless.
Williams, the away team, had runners on first and second in the top of the first when Rebecca Duncan and Jessica Kim reached on errors by Bulldog infielders. But Lutheran starter Oliveira wiggled out of the jam by retiring the next three batters.
In the Ephs' second, Casey Pelz drew a lead-off walk and Riley Salvo followed by grounding a single through the left side to put runners on first and second with no outs. Jenny Hickey put down a beautiful sacrifice bunt to move the runners over, but Oliveira again got out of a jam by retiring the next two hitters.
TLU went up 1-0 in the bottom of the second when Cates roped a double to left center. With one out, Kassie Maddox ripped a liner just past a diving Jenny Hickey at second base and into center field for an RBI-single. In the top of the fourth, Eph junior Kirstin Mapes opened the frame by lining a single back up the middle. Pelz dropped down a sacrifice bunt to put pinch-runner Azaria Vargas on second, but again Oliveira retired the next two batters to extinguish the threat.
The Bulldogs added three more in the bottom of the fourth as Cates led off with a double down the left-field line and Chassety Raines followed with a hard grounder toward the middle that Kim made a beautiful diving stop on. Kassie Maddox lofted a sacrifice fly to center that scored Cates for a 2-0 lead and Oliveira followed with a two-run homer to left that made it 4-0.
Down 6-0, the Ephs put together a rally in the top of the sixth. Mackenzie Muphy led off with a shot to right center that one-hopped the fance for a double. Mapes ripped a single to left that put runners on the corners and pinch-hitter Dacia Green walked to load the bases with no outs. At this point, Jordaine Bishop replaced Oliveira in the circle and retired two straight batters before uncorcking a wild pitch that allowed Murphy to score and make it a 6-1 game, but Bishop retired the next batter to end the inning.
Snow hit a solo home run to right center in the bottom of the sixth to account for the final score.
Mapes went 2 for 4 for the Ephs. Kim, Murphy, Kipnis and Salvo had the other hits. Duncan took the loss, falling to 15-3.