WILLIAMSTOWN >> Every team in the NCAA Division III Softball Williamstown Regional will have to play today, but one team may only have to play once.
That's because the Massachusetts Institute of Technology beat Western Connecticut 7-2 in the first game of a doubleheader Friday afternoon. The second game, featuring host Williams and Johnson & Wales, was suspended in the top of the first inning because of heavy rains.
The second game will be resumed at 9 this morning with Johnson & Wales leading 3-0 in the top of the first inning. The Wildcats had rocked Williams starter Brooke Bovier for three runs on four hits. There were runners on first and second with two outs and Angelica Reyes at bat when the umpires suspended play.
So, if MIT beats the winner of the Williams-Johnson & Wales game today, the Engineers will go directly to Sunday's championship. The first-round losers will play an elimination game today, one of four scheduled games on the calendar.
The championship game is still scheduled for Sunday at noon, with the "if" game to follow.
In the opening game of the doubleheader, MIT fell behind early, giving up a run in the first inning. Alex LaFemina singled, took second on an illegal pitch by Engineers pitcher Alex Marshall and was sacrificed to third. LaFemina scored on a second illegal-pitch call. English retired the side in order, striking out two.
Marshall, who threw a four-hitter and struck out 11, is a senior and a veteran in the circle, so those two calls didn't do anything to upset her game.
"It doesn't really bother me. It's happened before, and I just shake it off," said Marshall, "and keep doing what I do."
After the leadoff single to left, all Marshall did was retire 15 of the next 16 batters she faced, striking out nine. The Colonials did get a run in the sixth on two singles and a pair of sacrifice bunts, but by then the damage was done.
That's because the Engineers tied the game in the third and took the lead in the fourth with a pair of unearned runs. Western Connecticut committed five errors in the game, four of them in those two innings.
"You can't do that when you get to this level. That's what I told my kids after the game," Western Connecticut coach Heather Stone said. "When you get to this level and you're playing in the national tournament, there's no room for mistakes."
Emily Cintorino took the loss for Western Connecticut, giving up seven runs, five earned, on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. Cintorino walked three and struck out three. The Engineers closed out the scoring with a flourish, scoring five earned runs in the last two innings. Katy Stone's two-run single with two outs in the sixth added the exclamation point.
While it wasn't a homecoming for MIT coach Jennifer Williams, it was a return to a friendly place. Williams graduated from Middlebury and played against Williams at Cole several times.
"I've been thinking about that all day today. I came here a couple of times with Middlebury. It's very strange actually," said Williams. "I didn't recognize everything, but it takes me back.
"It's great being back here. They know how to put on a tournament here, so we're enjoying the experience so far."
Contact Howard Herman at 413-496-6253.