Energized Williams grounds Endicott in NCAA D-III softball opener


WILLIAMSTOWN -- Sometimes getting to reboot is a good thing.

Five days after losing at home in the NESCAC championship game, the Williams College softball team took to Cole Field for its first-round NCAA Division III tournament game against Endicott College. Five days between games was plenty of time for the Ephs to refocus.

Pitcher Emma Harrington tossed a six-hit shutout and the Ephs were efficient with runners in scoring position as they advanced with a 6-0 win over the Gulls on Friday afternoon.

"We're just glad to still be playing," Eph center fielder Ali Graebner said.

Williams will play NESCAC champion Tufts this morning at 11. The Jumbos beat the Ephs 10-2 in Sunday's title game. Tufts beat Lesley 9-1 with seven runs in the sixth inning on Friday. Lesley and Endicott will play an elimination game after the Tufts-Williams contest.

If you ask a player, or coach Kris Herman, there's no hangover for Williams when it comes to Sunday's loss to the nation's No. 1 Division III team.

"We're so excited. No kid on this team has ever been to the NCAAs," she said. "It's great for Williams, for Williams softball. There's a lot of winning that goes on around here, and we're happy to be a part of that."

Williams got to today's game thanks in large part to the strong right arm of Harrington. The junior right-hander held the Gulls hitless through the first four innings. Endicott had runners on in scoring position in each of its final three innings, but Harrington pitched out of trouble.

"You keep pitching your game and you rely on your defense" to get out of jams, said Harrington. "They were doing a great job, and I knew my batters could get me some more runs."

Williams manufactured a run in the first inning, which turned out to be the only one the Ephs needed. Ali Michalek led off with a single to left. Michalek stole second, went to third on Erica Li's ground out to first and scored on Graebner's ground out to shortstop.

Graebner had an RBI single and Priscilla Pino had a run-scoring fielder's choice to make it 3-0 in the third.

Endicott put runners on second and third with one out in the fifth, but Chrissy Gikas and Jess Linden both popped to Harrington. The Gulls had runners on the corners with one out in the sixth but Harrington got cleanup hitter Rachel Couto on a pop to Melissa Cendejo at first and Emily Hoffman on a grounder to Kacey Cramer.

Williams had eight hits and only stranded four base runners in the game. Cramer and Li each had two hits for the Ephs.


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