TYLER, Texas -- Facing the end of its season, the Williams College softball team stayed alive when first-year Mara Kipnis lined an RBI-single with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning that scored Casey Pelz for a 3-2 walk-off win over top-seeded St. Thomas at Suddenlink Field Friday at the 2019 NCAA Division III National Championship.
The Ephs improved to 39-6 overall, tying the most wins in a single season in the program's history. They played the loser of the Trine-Emory game slated for later Friday on Saturday at 2 p.m. (EST) in another elimination game. The victory in the national championship round was the third-ever in Williams history.
"That," said Ephs' senior co-captain Pelz, "was fun."
Pelz drew a lead-off walk in the 11th to start the game-inning rally. Tommie starter Kierstin Anderson-Glass, who had thrown every pitch in the game, went to 3-0 on Eph Riley Salvo before being replaced by Kendall Hopkins, who completed the walk to Salvo. Eph senior Jill Jenkin then dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third. Hopkins then walked senior Kristina Alvarado to load the bases. She went to 1-0 on Kipnis before being replaced by Isabelle Marketon in the circle. Marketon went to 3-2 on Kipnis, who lined the next pitch over shortstop into center field for the game-winning hit.
Williams received a fantastic start from junior Kirstin Mapes, who went the first six-plus frames and allowed just two runs, both coming in the top of the first inning. But a lead-off double off the top of the fence in center by Jenna Bromen to start the seventh followed by an error on a sacrifice bunt put Tommie runners on the corners with no outs. Ephs' head coach Kris Herman called on junior Rebecca Duncan to take over in the circle, and she did take over, getting a pop up back to the circle, a one-hop comebacker back to the circle and, after a walk loaded the bases, a fly out to left fielder Jill Jenkin to end the threat.
"We've had a bend don't break operation really all season but especially the last three weeks where we've gotten behind and really battled back," Herman said. "I'm really proud of every single player on our team."
The Ephs nearly won the game in the bottom of the frame. With two outs, Kipnis singled. Jessica Kim then ripped a shot down toward third base. Tommie third baseman Elise Barnes made a diving attempt but the ball glanced off her glove and trickled down the left-field line in foul territory. Kipnis moved to third as Kim raced into second with a double. Mackenzie Murphy then lined a shot to right, but it was caught for the final out.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Tommies had a runner on first with two outs when Bromen singled to left and Rachel Suter dropped down a two-out bunt single that loaded the bases. Duncan then retired UST lead-off hitter Melissa Barry on a fly to Jenkin in left.
In the Williams ninth inning, Salvo led off with a single to right. Azaria Vargas pinch-ran for her. With one out, Alvarado sacrificed Vargas to second. Kipnis drew a walk, but Anderson-Glass retired Kim to end the threat.
Duncan improved to 16-3, throwing five shutout innings in relief of Mapes. She retired the final 10 batters she faced in order. She allowed two hits and walked two in the win.
Williams trailed 2-0 after a half-inning. Arguably the biggest hit may have come in the third inning when Kim, batting with one out and nobody on, hit a gargantuan home run to straightaway center field to cut the deficit in half, 2-1. The Ephs tied the game in the fifth when Kipnis singled leading off. With one out, Murphy lofted a foul fly behind third base that Tommie shortstop Marketon made a great diving catch on for the second out, but Kipnis alertly tagged up and moved to second. That proved critical when Duncan lined a two-out single to right center that scored the first-year with the tying run.
Mapes went six-plus for the Ephs, allowing seven hits and two runs, both earned, while walking two and striking out two. Williams had nine hits in the win, led by Kipnis, who went 3 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Kim was 2 for 5 with a home run, RBI and run scored. Duncan was 2 for 5 with an RBI. Salvo was 1 for 2 with two walks. Murphy had a triple. Duncan had seven putouts and four assists with no errors in the field, while left fielder Jenkin had seven putouts.
Women's Track and Field
GENEVA, Ohio — Friday marked the end of the second day of the NCAA Championships. After two event finals, the Williams women sit in sixth place with 13 points, 14 points behind leader Washington University. The women performed well, excited to be competing in sunny weather.
The day began with the high jump. In the midst of her heptathlon, Summer-Solstice Thomas switched spikes and ran over to the high jump pit. Despite her fatigue from competing in 4 events yesterday, Thomas jumped well. She started jumping at a relatively high height, but cleared her opening bar on the first jump. She would go on to clear 1.64 meters, which put her in 11th place. Emma Egan also competed in the high jump. She also opened at a relatively high height, but cleared that bar with ease. As the heights increased, Egan kept her cool to clear 1.70 meters. While this was the same height as the winner, she unfortunately had more misses at earlier bars. However, Egan secured fourth place to win the team five points and gain All-American status.
This afternoon also marked the final day of the heptathlon. The event began with the long jump, in which all three athletes performed very well. Izabelle Ith had a strong progression of jumps, ending with her best at 5.51 meters. This gained her 703 points. Caitlin Ubl also had a strong few jumps, however her first jump was her best. She jumped 5.50 meters to win 700 points. Thomas, running back from the open high jump, had three solid jumps. Her best was a jump of 5.15 meters to win her 601 points.
The next event they moved onto was the javelin throw. Ubl had a great day, setting a personal best by nearly 1.5 meters, she threw the javelin 31.19 meters which got her 499 points. Ith also set a new lifetime best by about 2 meters, having a best throw of 27.71 meters to get her 433 points. Thomas also had a solid day in the javelin, her furthest throw being 24.74 meters. This got her 377 points.
Heading into the final event of the heptathlon, the 800 meter race, all the women would need exceptional times to move up. Ubl ran an incredible race, coming through the first 400 meters in just 65 seconds. She finished the event in a time of 2:17 to get her 865 points. Thomas also went out quickly, coming through the first lap in 66 seconds. She crossed the finish line in 2:20, a 2 second lifetime best, to win her 822 points. Ith also had a personal best of 2:31 to get her 673 points.
After all 7 events, the ladies felt accomplished. They had posted very impressive marks, including numerous lifetime bests. The final results show that Ubl finished with a total of 4946 points, just 3 short of her school record. This was enough for 2nd place, and 8 points for the team. Thomas finished with a total score of 4601 points which put her in 9th place. Ith finished closely behind Thomas with 4510 points in 13th place.
The final event of the day was the 800 meter race. Following her great day 1, Anna Passannante '20 came back today with a strong finish. Splitting 66 seconds on each lap, Passannante finished with a solid time of 2:12 to win her heat. This automatically qualifies Passannante for the finals tomorrow, and has her currently in 3rd place.
Tomorrow, the last batch of Ephs will be competing. This includes the finals in the 4x400 meter relay, 800 meters, 1500 meters, and triple jump. The Ephs hope to rake up as many points as possible to improve their current team standings. The first Eph competing will be Passannante in the 1500.
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