WILLIAMSTOWN — For the third consecutive year, the Williams College softball team gets to host an NCAA Division III regional.
The Ephs have welcomed Johnson & Wales, Western Connecticut and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to Berkshire County for the start of a three-day tourney.
Because of some expected late-day showers, the NCAA has moved up the start times of Friday's doubleheader. Western Connecticut and MIT will play at noon, while Williams and Johnson & Wales should begin around 2:30.
There will be three games on Saturday — including winners and losers bracket finals — and the final will be held Sunday at noon.
Here's a look at both games.
WESTERN CONNECTICUT VS. MIT
Western Connecticut (23-17) enters the tournament as the Little East Conference champion. It's the fifth league title for the Colonials since 2001.
Sophomore outfielder Jenna Gaudioso was named to the All-Little East first team. She has a .340 batting average and has stolen 14 of 16 bases. Michaela Roche, Kayla Nowak and Erin Webber all have eight home runs each, they lead the team.
In the circle, seniors Emily Cintorino and Alle Sabith have split time with Cintorino starting 21 games to 15 for Sabith. Cintorino has a 2.18 earned-run average to Sabith's 3.26.
Western Connecticut did play Williams twice in Florida, losing 12-2 and 8-3.
MIT (28-11) lost to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference championship game, and come to Cole Field as an at-large team.
For the Engineers, dominating pitcher Alexandra Marshall is the key. The senior was the NEWMAC pitcher of the year. She had a 20-9 record with a 1.03 ERA and 214 strikeouts. She holds MIT records with 32 appearances, 177 2/3 innings, and 214 strikeouts. Marshall picked up a win and a save in two victories over Williams back on March 31 in Cambridge. She threw a two-hit shutout in a 1-0 win and picked up a save in a 2-1 win.
Sophomore outfielder Jasmin Joseph leads MIT with a .449 average, and is a key at the top of the order as she has stolen 16 of 19 bases.
MIT enters the game as the No. 3 team in New England, behind WPI and Williams.
JOHNSON & WALES AT WILLIAMS
The Wildcats (31-10) won the Great Northeast Athletic Conference title and are in a second consecutive Division III tournament.
First baseman Emily Gorecki, catcher Kristen Solari and outfielder Alex Fantasia were named to the GNAC All-Conference first team.
Gorecki has a team-best 10 home runs and 57 RBI, to go with a .508 batting average. Three other regulars — Brenna Duperrry, Solari and Fantasia — all have batting averages over .400.
Second-team selection Jennifer Corona will likely start in the circle today. She has a 20-5 record with a 1.05 ERA. She has 114 strikeouts in 147 innings.
The Ephs (32-9) are ranked 21st in the latest national Division III poll. They enter this weekend as the NESCAC champion, having ended Tufts' reign last weekend at Cole Field.
Corona is going to face a Williams offense that can put crooked numbers up on the scoreboard in a hurry. The Ephs have a team batting average of .340, while four Ephs are hitting above .400 and seven others are hitting above .300.
NESCAC player of the year Erica Li is third in NESCAC with a .428 batting average while teammate Lexi Curt is seventh at .415. Freshman Mackenzie Murphy has a .435 batting average with six home runs and 32 RBI, but she isn't in the league leaders because hitters are required to have a minimum of 2.5 at-bats per game.
Murphy was named the NESCAC pitcher of the year and she has a 2.31 ERA to lead NESCAC. She had a 14-3 record and picked up a pair of saves.