The last time the Williams College softball team hosted the NESCAC Tournament, the Ephs needed to win the "if" game to claim the championship. This year, there would be no need for that "if" game, because Tufts only needed two games to clinch the tourney championship.
The East Division-champion Jumbos got outstanding pitching performances in both games, and swept the championship doubleheader Saturday at Cole Field in Williamstown. Tufts won the first game 10-0 in five innings and took the nightcap 7-2.
With the sweep, Williams falls to 12-2.
The star of the first game for Tufts, now 17-3 after the doubleheader sweep, was pitcher Kristina Haghdan. The senior right-hander from Pelham, N.H., gave up a pair of hits in the second inning and struck out 11. She did not walk a batter and retired 11 of the last 12 batters she faced. The only Eph to reach base over those final 3 2/3 innings was Bailey Burger-Moore, who reached on an error to lead off the fifth inning. Burger-Moore was stranded at first as Haghdan struck out Aly Granados and Jenny Hickey and got Cris McEhlinney on a grounder back to the circle to end the game.
The opener was scoreless through two innings. Eph starter Kirstin Mapes (7-1), who ended up losing her first game of the season, saw the leadoff batter of the game reach on an error. Mapes retired the next six, and seemed to be in control.
Williams could have staked Mapes to a lead in the home second. With one out, Gaby Cirigliano and Burger-Moore hit consecutive singles. Haghdan uncorked a wild pitch on the first offering to Granados, moving the runners up. Haghdan recovered, striking out Granados and Hickey to end the inning. A run or two there, and the game would have had a different tone.
The wheels came off for Williams in the top of the third inning when Tufts parlayed one hit and two costly errors into five runs, four unearned. Nine batters went to the plate in the third and Casey Maggiore had the back-breaking hit with a two-run single to left, making it 5-0. She would not have been in position had Williams left fielder Mara Kipnis been able to catch a liner off the bat of Tufts' Mia Steinberg. That would have been the third out.
Even after a so-called crooked number inning, Williams could have made some noise in the home third, but McElhinney struck out looking, Tayler Wise hit a grounder back to the pitcher and Kipnis struck out swinging.
In the Tufts fourth, Mapes gave up back-to-back singles to the No. 8 and 9 hitters. Michelle Adelman hit the first pitch she saw over the fence in left. The three-run home run deflated Williams and gave the Jumbos a big boost. Kipnis slammed into the fence, was shaken up and did not return.
Josie Steinberg's two-run double in the fifth made it 10-0, and when Williams went quietly in the home fifth, the 10-run rule went into effect and the game was over.
Rachel Moore and Emma Della Volpe had big days. The bottom two hitters for Tufts were a combined 4 for 5 with five runs scored.
Like in Game 1, an early missed opportunity cost Williams.
The Ephs were the visitors in Game 2, and with two outs, Tufts freshman left-hander Sophia DiCocco walked Cirigliano and Mapes followed with a base hit. Had the Ephs scored there, things could have been different. Instead, DiCicco got Burger-Moore to ground back to the circle to end the threat and the inning.
Tufts broke the game open in the bottom of the first inning. Maya Hartman got the start in the circle and gave up a leadoff single to Adelman. Kat Yuzeffolsky singled to center, Adelman going to third and Yuzeffolsky to second on a throwing error by Granados in center field. One out later, Nicole Russo hit a two-run single. After Mia Steinberg fouled out, Maggiore hit a two-run home run, making it 4-0.
Williams got on the board in the second inning. Dacia Green singled, went to third on Granados' double and scored on a base hit by Rachel Neugart. Granados, however, was thrown out at home trying to score. That could have been a big inning.
Tufts' Russo, who went 3 for 3 with three runs scored and four runs batted in, followed Josie Steinberg's single with a two-run homer to center field. Russo also hit a solo shot over the center field fence in the fifth.
Williams did manage eight hits in four innings off of DiCocco, but only managed one more run. That came on an RBI double by Neugart, who finished the game 2 for 3 with two RBI.
The top of the Williams order, one through five, was a combined 4 for 16 in the second game and 4 for 26 in the doubleheader.