Williams College softball to host MIT for NCAA Super Regional

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WILLIAMSTOWN — When the members of the Williams College softball team walked off of Cole Field with the Williamstown Regional title, they did not know if that was to be their final home game of the season.

"A lot of us are in a one-pitch mindset. As soon as the last pitch was pitched and we knew we won, I think all of us were thinking who's next," Williams catcher, and NESCAC player of the year Lexi Curt said after the Ephs beat Amherst to win the Regional on Sunday.

"I think we don't really take time off," she said. "There's not a 'We're going to take a break for 24 hours.' We're in the time of the season where it's time to grind.

"I would personally rather prepare for games this weekend than my finals, so I'm definitely on the track and we're definitely thinking about this weekend and getting ready for it."

For the second consecutive season, Williams will host a Super Regional round. Again, an Eastern Massachusetts school will be making the ride west. This year, it is MIT (38-6-1) that will play Williams (38-6) in a best-of-three series. The winner advances to the championship series.

"It means everything in the world that we get to play some more softball with these girls," MIT's Jasmin Joseph said after her team beat Tufts to clinch the Cambridge Regional. "To keep going, to be with them more and get to do this another day is a gift."

The best-of-three Super Regional starts Friday at 4:30 p.m. The teams will play again on Saturday. The first game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m., with a second "if" game to follow.

The winner will advance to the NCAA Division III Softball Championship in Oklahoma City, Okla., May 24-28. There will be eight teams heading for Oklahoma to participate in the double-elimination battle.

Curt, the most outstanding player in the Williamstown Regional, and all-tournament pick Mackenzie Murphy come into the weekend with another honor. The two Ephs were named to the Google Cloud District All-Academic First Team. With the honor, they will be placed on the Academic All-America ballot that members of the College Sports Information Directors of America will vote on.

Two years ago, the Engineers came to Williams to play in a regional with Johnson & Wales and Western Connecticut. Williams lost the opener to Johnson & Wales and had to come back in the losers bracket to face MIT for the title.

The Ephs won the first game in that championship series 4-1, but fell 5-3 in the "if" game, sending MIT to its first-ever Super Regional.

MIT's Amanda Lee and Williams' Jessica Kim and Murphy, who were named to the All-Tournament team two years ago, are all still playing for their respective teams. The Engineers went on to beat WPI in the Super Regional and advance to the championship, which that year was held in Salem, Va.

MIT, the NEWMAC Tournament champion, needed a second game to beat Tufts and reach the 2018 Super Regional round.

The winner of the Williamstown Super Regional is, according to the NCAA bracket, matched up with the winner of a Super Regional between Wisconsin-Whitewater and Illinois Wesleyan.

Williams and MIT are seeking to be the first New England team to win an NCAA Division III title since Tufts won three straight between 2013-15. The other New England school to win a D-III national title was Eastern Connecticut, and that happened in the 1980s and 1990s.

The feeling coming out of Cambridge is very similar to the one that emanated from Cole Field Sunday.

"We're just excited to have a chance to play more," MIT coach Jennifer Williams said after winning its regional. "We have a chance to play more softball and to do it together."

Howard Herman can be reached at hherman@berkshireeagle.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.


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