WILLIAMSTOWN — The Williams College softball team had a checklist of things to do heading into Saturday's NESCAC doubleheader with Middlebury.
Senior Day, check. Sweep the Panthers, check. Clinch the West Division title and secure home field in the conference tournament, check.
Freshman Mackenzie Murphy's walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Ephs a 3-2, extra-inning win in the opening game of the doubleheader at Cole Field. That win locked up the West title. Then, Williams scored five runs in the sixth inning to close out Middlebury 11-3 in the nightcap. That wrapped up a 3-for-3 sweep of the Panthers this weekend.
"It's a great day for us, we seniors, to have this amazing outing against Middlebury today," said co-captain Kacey Cramer, who hit a two-run home run in the nightcap. "We've been playing against their seniors for four years. I wouldn't say we're friends, but it's a lot of fun to play against them."
Williams wraps up the regular season with a 29-8 mark, 10-2 in NESCAC play. Middlebury finishes 20-11, 4-7. Williams will be looking for its first NESCAC championship since 2006.
"We had three walk-offs, all different kinds. We have a never-say-die attitude, but we would like to put teams away sooner than that," said Williams coach Kris Herman. "We worked really hard. We have all the pieces of the puzzle. When we put them together, we're pretty darn good."
One of those pieces of the puzzle is Murphy. The freshman right-hander from Diablo, Calif., is the only player this year to have been a NESCAC player and pitcher of the week in different weeks. She might have earned a second straight player-of-the-week award with her performance on Saturday.
Murphy held Middlebury to two runs on four hits. She did not walk anyone and she struck out seven. At one point, she retired 12 straight and she set down the last eight hitters she faced, striking out Siobhan O'Sullivan to end the top of the ninth.
Murphy came up in the home ninth, and on an 0-1 pitch, sent a towering fly ball over the fence in left for a walk-off home run. It was her fifth in as many games.
"I felt really good pitching the inning before, and I was pumped. I just wanted to hit a single and get on base," said Murphy. "I got an inside pitch, which is what I was looking for. It felt right."
"We always expect great things from her, and it was amazing to see her come out and hit a home run for us," said Cramer.
After a Senior Day ceremony to honor the six Eph seniors, Brooke Bovier set down Middlebury in the first inning. She got out of a bases-loaded jam without giving up a run.
Williams scored twice in the first. Back-to-back doubles by Li and Brenna Martinez made it 1-0 and Priscilla Pino's base hit scored Martinez.
The Ephs pounded out 15 hits in the nightcap of the doubleheader. Cramer hit a two-run home run in the fifth while Margo Beck hit her first homer of the year, a opposite-field, two-run blast, in the five-run sixth inning that ended the game.
"Being West Division champs is always on our list of things that we want to accomplish each year," said Williams co-captain Erica Li, who had four hits in the doubleheader. "We came in knowing it wasn't a question that we were going to do it. We came into the season with a sweep in NESCAC play and we wanted to leave with one."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.