HADLEY, Mass. - Williams welcomes Bowdoin, Middlebury and Tufts to Cole Field in Williamstown, Mass. for the 2014 NESCAC Softball Championship. The three-day championship begins with a pair of games on Friday, May 2, and concludes on Sunday, May 4. Action gets underway on Friday with Williams squaring off against Bowdoin at 2:30 p.m. Tufts and Middlebury meet in the day's second game at 5 p.m.
Williams (22-9, 10-2 NESCAC West) has played well down the stretch, winning 15 of its last 19 games dating back to March 30, including a doubleheader sweep over Tufts on April 5 and taking 2-of-3 from Middlebury last Saturday to clinch the top seed in the NESCAC West Division. Williams is returning to the NESCAC Championship for the first time since 2011, while making its 12th overall appearance. The Ephs look to win their fourth conference crown and first since 2006. At the plate, senior Ali Graebner (Short Hills, N.J.) leads upstart Williams in runs (27), RBI (23) and hits (40) to go along with a solid .412 batting average. The Ephs rely on first-year shortstop Alison Michalik (Naperville, Ill.) to set up the rest of the batting order in the lead-off spot with her speed, as evident in a conference-best five triples on the season. Williams has primarily utilized two pitchers in the circle. Junior Emma Harrington (Columbus, Ohio) boasts an 11-5 record with a 1.98 ERA over 95.1 innings, while striking out 65 batters. She shares pitching responsibilties with Brooke Bovier (Port Orange, Fla.), who has had a strong rookie campaign for the Ephs. Bovier has gone 9-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 65.1 innings of work. She has also struck out 51 batters.
In Game 1, Williams will face Bowdoin (24-12, 8-4 NESCAC East), which is making its third straight appearance in the NESCAC Championship and fourth in five years. Last season, the Polar Bears won their first tournament games since 2010 to advance to the final where they lost to Tufts. Bowdoin started this season strong going 5-1 in its first two divisional schedule by taking 2-of-3 from Trinity and sweeping Colby before wrapping up the regular season with a pair of wins against Bates. Senior Melissa DellaTorre (Scarborough, Maine) leads the pitching staff with a 1.35 ERA and nine complete games this season. She has struck out 88 batters over the course of 83 innings en route to a 8-4 record with a pair of saves. Two other pitchers have recorded at least seven wins each to go along with ERAs below 2.50. Sophomore Julia Geaumont (Saco, Maine) is 8-1 this season with a 2.36 ERA, while first-year Emily Griffin (Tucson, Ariz.) has a 2.34 ERA and 54 strikeouts. Griffin also serves as an offensive threat for the Polar Bears, as she ranks second on the team with a .379 batting average. Junior Adriane Krul (Ashburnham, Mass.) has provided an additional spark at the plate, leading the Polar Bears in runs (28), RBI (26) and doubles (14) combined with a .369 batting average. Both players have speed on the base path, as they have 27 combined stolen bases. Williams owns a slight 4-3 edge in the postseason series versus Bowdoin, but the Polar Bears defeated the Ephs in two games during the 2010 championship when Williams last hosted the championship.
The top two teams in the East and West divisions qualify for the NESCAC Softball Championship. The host site rotates between the two divisions each year, with the number-one seed in the East Division playing host this season. After the conclusion of Friday's games, the first elimination game will be played between the first day losers on Saturday morning, followed by the first day winners. Saturday's late game will feature an elimination game between the game three winner and loser of game four. The championship on Sunday will include that last team standing on Saturday and the lone undefeated team in the tournament. If necessary, a second game will be played in the result of the undefeated team dropping Sunday's opener.
All games will be webcasted by the Northeast Sports Network (NSN) at nsnsports.com/NESCAC. Results for the NESCAC Softball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.
For a complete preview of the tournament, visit NESCAC.com