WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- Margo Beck is saving her best for last.
The Williams College right fielder/catcher lined a tie-breaking single to left in the bottom of the fifth inning Sunday, helping the Williams College softball team to a 3-1 win over rival Amherst in the championship game of the NCAA Div. III Tournament Williamstown Regional.
The Ephs won an NCAA Regional for the second consecutive year, and tied the school record for single-season victories with their 38th.
Williams (38-6) advances to the Super Regionals against either M.I.T or Tufts, who will play Monday at 11 a.m. and, if necessary, one more game following that contest. Amherst saw its season conclude with a 29-8 record. It was the second year in a row the Mammoths ended their season with a loss to Williams in the postseason.
The Ephs trailed Amherst 1-0 Sunday thanks to a solo home run in the fourth inning by Mammoth freshman RonnieMarie Falasco and senior hurler Gina Pagan, who held the Ephs scoreless through four. As she is want to do, Eph senior Lexi Curt got things started in the Williams fifth when she lined a one-out double to left-center field. Mackenzie Murphy then rifled a single through the left side to put runners on the corners. Kirstin Mapes followed by looping a single into left just past the shortstop to score pinch-runner Jill Jenkin and tie the game, 1-1.
After Rebecca Duncan was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Beck strode to the plate. The senior from Plano, Texas, has a knack for coming up large in the postseason and has put together her healthiest and best year at Williams in 2018, setting career highs in hits, doubles, triples, home runs, runs, RBI, total bases, extra-base hits and walks. She took a pitch in the dirt from Pagan, then drilled a 1-0 fastball on the inside part of the plate in left to score Murphy. The ball was bobbled in left, and pinch-runner Kristina Alvarado came across to score as well for a 3-1 lead.
That left it up to Duncan, who had taken over for Murphy in the circle at the start of the fifth after the former had allowed just a run over four frames. She retired the Mammoths 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth. Amherst, though, attempted put together a rally of its own in the seventh. With one out, pinch-hitter Annie Murphy was hit by a pitch. Allyson Plaman then ripped a grounder into right. Duncan struck out Julia Turner for the second out, but Ally Kido lined a single to right to load the bases.
That left it up to the speedy Andrea Sanders. She grounded a ball back up the middle that made it past Duncan, but Eph second baseman Brenna Martinez snagged the ball in front of second base and reached back to tap the bag before the runner from first could, ending the game.
Duncan improved to 17-3 on the season, breaking the school record for wins in a single season set by herself last year, Murphy in 2016, Emma Harrington in 2015, Clara Hard in 2005 and Katherine Baldwin in 2001. She allowed three hits over three innings, did not walk a batter and struck out four. Murphy pitched the first four frames, allowing three hits and one run. She did not walk a batter and fanned one. Pagan (12-6) took the loss for Amherst, allowing eight hits and three runs over six innings. She walked one and struck out one.
Plaman had three of the Mammoths six hits. Curt was 2 for 4 for the Ephs. Curt was named the Regional's Most Outstanding Player. The rest of the All-Tournament team consisted of Beck, Murphy and Duncan from Williams; Katie Kopatic, Sanders and Falasco of Amherst, Aimee Kirstner and Mallory Donelan of Western New England and Madelyn Fowler from Husson.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- One of the oldest intercollegiate rivalries in the nation wrote another chapter Sunday when Amherst College and Williams College met to decide which men's tennis team would advance to the NCAA Quarterfinals.
It was the 119th meeting between the two teams since 1905 and Williams entered leading the all-time series 76-39-3. Prior to today the teams were even in NCAA Tournament match-ups with each team winning twice. Williams now leads 77-39-3 all-time and 3-2 in NCAA Tournament play.
Amherst took two of the three doubles matches, giving the Mammoths a 2-1 lead heading into singles play.
Amherst collected doubles wins at No. 1 and No. 2. Two of the three doubles matches went to extra games.
The Amherst No. 1 pairing of Zach Bessette/Jayson Fung outlasted the Williams duo of Brian Grodecki and Ananth Raghavan 8-6. The Mammoth duo never trailed in the match.
In the Williams win at No. 3, Jordan Sadowsky/Arturo Kam overcame an early 4-1 deficit to tie the match at five all. The Eph duo would not surrender the lead and eventually logged a 9-7 win.
The last doubles match to be decided was at No. 2, where Amherst's Jon Heidenberg and Kevin Ma downed Alex Taylor and Calvin Chung by the score of 9-7.
"The doubles was a very bad start for us today," Eph head coach Dan Greenberg said. "I felt we were a little nervous and we got a little rattled and it's tough to win four singles matches."
"It was time for a reset so I told the guys to dig in on each court and I was confident in their fitness and I knew they were mentally tough. It was sort of like halftime in a basketball game – the second half, the most important half was coming up. You really never know how your team is going to respond to what you tell them."
Trailing 2-1 heading into singles host Williams had little margin for error. The Ephs buckled down and got right to work, winning the first set in all six singles matches and then ran they off four straight set wins to notch the 5-2 victory and advance to the NCAA quarter-finals on May 21 in Claremont, Calif.
"The way the team responded today in singles is the best we have responded to anything this year," Greenberg said. "Six first set wins in singles was absolutely huge."
Deepak Indrakanti won at No. 5 singles, 6-1, 6-1, over Jesse Levitin to tie the match at two all. The Ephs took their first lead when No. 3 Sachan Raghavan defeated Zach Bressette, 6-3, 6-0 to put the Ephs up 3-2. Arturo Kam notched the fourth Williams point at No. 6 when he downed Jon Heidenberg, 6-4, 6-1.
Ananth Raghavan provided the clincher when he prevailed over Jayson Fung, 6-4, 6-1, at No. 4.
With the win Williams improved to 15-4 on the year and Amherst closed out their season with a record of 12-7.
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