Jeffs End Season at 18-16 with Pair of Losses to Williams

AMHERST, MA – The Amherst College softball team had its season come to a close with a pair of losses to archrival Williams College Saturday afternoon. The Ephs overcame an early 2-0 deficit in each game, winning the first by a score of 6-4 before rallying to win the nightcap in eight innings, 6-3. 

Amherst finishes the year at 18-16 (6-6 NESCAC West), while Williams (16-19-1/9-3 NESCAC West) has earned the right to host the 2010 NESCAC Championship as the top seed in the conference's West Division. This is the 10th consecutive year in which the Ephs have qualified for the conference tournament. 

Cedar Blazek '13 finished the day 4-for-8 with five RBIs for Williams, while Allison Hart '12 was 6-for-7 with four runs scored and two driven in. For Amherst, Jackie Tyler '10 (Ridgewood, NJ) and Reilly Horan '13 (Darien, CT) each went 4-for-8. Annemarie Iker '12 (Mill Valley, CA) added a 3-for-6 performance for the Jeffs, while Emily Neill (Kentfield, CA) walked five times on the afternoon. 

Things were going well for Amherst in the first game until Blazek gave the visitors their first lead of the day by belting a two-run homer over the fence in left field, handing Williams a 4-2 lead in the top of the fifth. The Ephs added another two runs in the sixth to make it 6-2, which proved to be too much for the Jeffs to overcome. 

The Jeffs went ahead early in the nightcap as well, but the Ephs again played long ball to take their first lead of the game, this time with Hart leading off the top of the sixth with her first homer of the season to give her team a 3-2 edge. Amherst would tie things up in the bottom of the sixth, but the Ephs scored three runs in the eighth to complete the doubleheader sweep. 

Amherst used some heads-up base running by Carly Dudzik '12 (Darien, CT) and a Stephanie Clegg '12 (Woburn, MA) sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning of the opening game. Williams tied things up at 2-2 in the fourth when a bloop single left center scored Blazek and Merrilee Weston '13.

After Blazek's blast in the fifth—her 10th long ball of the season—gave Williams a 4-2 lead, Ameen made it 5-2 in the sixth when she crushed the first pitch she saw over the fence in straightaway center, marking her eighth homer of the year. Hart would make it 6-2 with an RBI-double to right center that scored Oriana McGee '12, who had singled. 

Amherst cut its deficit in half by chalking up a pair of runs in the home half of the sixth, the first of which came when Jillian Masi '11 (Stamford, CT) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Dudzik followed by picking up an RBI on a fielder's choice, scoring Megan Kepnach '13 (Piscataway, NJ) to make it 6-4.

The Ephs were sat down in order in the top of the seventh and the Jeffs loaded the bases with only one out in the bottom half of the inning, but a soft liner off the bat of Kepnach was caught by relief pitcher Mary Beth Daub '11, who fired over to third base for the game-ending, playoff-clinching double play. 

Megan Casey '13 (10-9) earned the win that put the Ephs in the playoffs by pitching 5.1 innings, with Daub picking up her first save of the season by preserving a 6-4 lead. Casey allowed four runs on five hits and four walks, while Daub gave up three hits in 1.2 innings of scoreless relief. Senior tri-captain Alex Chang-Graham (San Carlos, CA) took the loss for Amherst to finish the season at 9-8, surrendering six earned runs on 11 hits with four strikeouts. 

Theresa Kelley '13 (Los Angeles, CA) pitched the final 1.1 innings of the first game and got the start in the second, but she came out on the losing end of a complete-game duel with Daub. Kelley (6-7) struck out six and surrendered seven hits in eight innings, but Daub gave up only three runs—two earned—on eight hits and three walks. 

Amherst took a 2-0 lead in the second inning of the second game, with Masi once again being hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to put the hosts on the board. Tyler followed with an RBI-single to center. 

Blazek came up with another big hit in the fourth when a triple to right field scored Hart to make it a 2-1 game, and the first-year slugger later came around to score the tying run on an Amherst throwing error. 

Hart's leadoff homer in the sixth briefly gave the Ephs a 3-2 lead, but the Jeffs quickly tied things up at 3-3 when they took advantage of a fielding miscue. Horan and Iker each singled and moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Kelley, allowing Masi to bring home a run when she reached on the error. 

Neither team would score in the seventh, but the Ephs loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth thanks to a pair of infield singles and an error. After Caitlyn Cain '11 grounded out for the first RBI, Blazek continued her rampage by sending a two-RBI single to right center. The 6-3 score would hold up, as Amherst put two runners on base in the home half but could not bring them around. 

Prior to the game, Amherst honored Neill, Tyler and Chang-Graham, who each wrapped up an exceptional career. While Chang-Graham will graduate as one of the most accomplished pitchers in program history, Neill and Tyler have each left a mark on the school's record book as outstanding hitters.

The NESCAC Championship will begin Friday, May 7, with Williams set to take on Bowdoin College, the No. 2 seed out of the East Division. Also heading to Williamstown to take part in the conference tournament are Wesleyan (No. 2 West) and Tufts (No. 1 East).