NCAA Regional: Williams Falls to MIT

NCAA Regional: Williams Falls to MIT

Courtesy Williams Sports Information

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — MIT's Lexi Marshall pitched a complete-game nine-hitter Sunday — stranding eight Williams runners in the final three innings‚ as the Engineers held on to defeat the Ephs in the seventh and final game of the 2016 NCAA Division III Williamstown Regional. 

For the first time in program history, the Engineers (31-12) won an NCAA regional title and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional round as MIT will face-off against NEWMAC foe WPI next weekend in a best two-of-three series.

Williams saw a record-breaking season come to a close with a 35-11 mark, the 35 wins the most in a single-season, breaking the school record of the 2004 and 2015 teams. 

Williams came into Sunday needing to defeat MIT twice, and won the first game, 4-1, to force the seventh and final game. Williams' Mackenzie Murphy hit a two-run home run off Marshall in the first and hurled a complete-game, 10-hitter. Jessica Kim also homered.

But it was the Engineers who got the jump on Williams in the second game when lead-off hitter Jasmin Joseph luanched an opposite-field home run to left-center field. 

Williams answered in the bottom of the second when Alejandra Magana scored on a wild pitch. Magana reached base on a fielding miscue and advanced to third on a double to left center by Williams' Kacey Cramer.

The Engineers regained the lead in the top of the third with three consecutive two-out hits. Natalie Shifflet worked a walk to lead off third and moved all the way to third base after back-to-back ground outs. Katherine Shade was hit by a pitch, Tori Jensen muscled a 3-2 pitch back up the middle for an RBI-single. Zoe Hinton then looped a ball just over a leaping Kim at shortstop to score another run, and Ali Trueworthy capped the uprising by dopping a bloop single into right just outside of the reach of a diving Ali Michalik. 

MIT added its fifth and final run in the fourth, but the Ephs would come back in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases with no outs as Kim and Murphy singled and Lexi Curt walked. Kim scored on a wild pitch. But Marshall bore down and struck out the next two batters and after a catcher's interference re-loaded the bases, she fanned the final batter of the inning still up three runs. 

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Erica Li singled to right, Kim followed with a line drive basehit to left and Murphy ripped a single into right field. An error on the play allowed Li to score to make it 5-3. Curt then singled to load the bases with one out, but again Marshall rose to the occasion, striking out the next two batters. 

In the Williams seventh, Marshall retired the first two batters before Priscilla Pino worked a two-out walk and Li dropped a single into left to put the tying runs on first and second. Marshall retired Kim on a grounder to first to end the game and send MIT to the super regionals.

In all, the Ephs left 14 baserunners stranded in the contest. 

Marshall was named the Regional's Most Outstanding Player. She finished with 34 strikeouts over 28 innings in the tournament, and went 3-1 with a 1.75 ERA. Joining her on the all-tournament team were Jensen, Natalie Shifflet and Amanda Lee. From Williams, Li, Kim and Murphy were all-tournament selections.

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