Courtesy Williams Sports Information
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College earned its first NESCAC Tournament title since 2006 Sunday via an 8-3 win over four-time defending NESCAC champion Tufts on Cole Field.
The Jumbos forced a winner-take-all seventh game by using an 11-run, first-inning to defeat Williams 13-6, earlier Sunday.
Williams improved to 32-9 with the championship game victory while Tufts moved to 28-10. The Ephs earned an automatic berth in the 2016 NCAA Division III Tournament and will find out Monday if they will host a regional.
Tufts and Williams faced one another three times in this weekend's tournament, with Williams winning 17-4 on Saturday, losing 13-6 Sunday and then winning 8-3. That's a 31-20 aggregate score over three contests in favor of the Ephs.
But it was Tufts which took an early 2-0 lead in the seventh game showdown. Cassie Ruscz cracked a long two-run home run in the bottom of the first, her second home run of the day. Ruscz set tournament records for home runs (4) and RBI (12).
The Ephs answered back quickly when Lexi Curt hit a two-run homer off Tufts starter Erica County in the bottom of the first. Jessica Kim, who had singled, scored ahead of her Curt.
In the bottom of the second, Brenna Martinez also went opposite field with a home run to give the Ephs a lead they would not relinquish. The Ephs added a second run in the inning when Melissa Cendejas singled, advanced to third on two groundouts and scored on Kim's liner to center with two down.
The Ephs kept the pressure on in the fourth as a walk, a hit batter and another Cendejas single loaded the bases with one out. Tayler Donze scored pinch-runner Jill Jenkin with a sacrifice fly, and Erica Li, the Ephs lead-off hitter, launched the first pitch she saw from Jumbos' reliever Raina Galbiati well over the fence in right-center for a three-run homer and an 8-2 Williams lead.
Williams' Mackenzie Murphy bounced back from the Rucsz homer in the first to keep Tufts off the board for five consecutive innings. The Jumbos added a late run in the top of the seventh, but Murphy got Galbiati to ground to short to end the game and give Williams the title.
Murphy improved to 14-3 on the season by going the full seven innings and allowing 12 hits and three runs, all earned, while walking one and striking out two. County (18-5) took the loss for Tufts, going 2.1 innings and allowing six hits and five runs, all earned, while walking two and striking out none.
Both teams had 12 hits in the game. Raven Fournier was 3-for-3 with an RBI for Tufts, while Ruscz was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. Samantha Siciliano was 3-for-4.
For Williams, Cendejas was 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Kim, Curt and Murphy were all 2-for-4. This is the fourth overall NESCAC championship for the Ephs while head coach Kris Herman captured her seventh crown, as she won her first three with Tufts.