HADLEY, Mass. - Bowdoin is set to host the 2017 NESCAC Softball Championship this weekend, May 5-7, at Pickard Softball Diamond. The Polar Bears are hosting the tournament for the first time in program history. Action gets underway on Friday when Williams and Trinity square off in the day’s first game at Noon. Bowdoin faces Amherst at 2 p.m. All games will be webcasted by the Northeast Sports Network (NSN) at nsnsports.net/conferences/NESCAC.
Bowdoin (27-8, 9-3 NESCAC East) will face Amherst (26-8, 10-2 NESCAC West) in the opening game. The Polar Bears are making their fourth appearance in the last five years and are seeking their first title in program history. Bowdoin owns a 2-1 record against Amherst in the postseason. The two teams last met in the opening game of the 2012 Championship, with Bowdoin earning an extra-inning victory. The Polar Bears have solid all-around numbers as a team. They rank second in the league in hitting with a .335 average and own the lowest ERA in the conference at 2.17. Senior Marisa O’Toole (Scarborough, Maine) leads the NESCAC in hitting (.447) and RBIs (37). She has recorded seven home runs and is slugging .777 on the year. Senior Emily Griffin (Tucson, Ariz.) has 12 wins in 17 appearances and has struck out 80 batters in 99.1 innings of work. First-year Allison Rutz (Essex Junction, Vt.) owns a 1.49 ERA, third best in the NESCAC, and has won seven times this season. She is also helps her own cause at the plate, ranking second on the Polar Bears with a .385 batting average and has 23 RBIs.
Amherst is making its second consecutive postseason appearance and chasing its first championship. The Mammoths boast solid hitting and pitching numbers this season. They are tied with Bowdoin in hitting (.335) and runs (210) and lead the league in stolen bases (46). The pitching staff has a combined 2.34 ERA, trailing only the Polar Bears, and has registered 251 strikeouts. Junior Gina Pagan (Orinda, Calif.) has been the leader of the pitching staff with a 1.45 ERA that ranks among the leaders in the NESCAC. She has worked over 100 innings and picked up 15 wins and 120 strikeouts. Sophomore Lorena Ukanwa (Morgan Hill, Calif.) has added seven victories in nine starts in the circle. Offensively, senior Lauren Tuiskula (Leicester, Mass.) and sophomore Kyra Naftel (Santa Clarita, Calif.) are hitting over .400 for the Mammoths. Tuiskula leads the team in hitting (.427), runs (32) and is second in hits (47), while Naftel is batting .420 and has rapped out 50 hits with 24 RBIs and scored 28 runs.
Game 2 between Williams (28-10, 11-1 NESCAC West) and Trinity (19-13, 8-4 NESCAC East) marks the second straight year the programs will face each other in the postseason. Williams defeated the Bantams last year in the opening game for both teams. In the all-time postseason series, Williams owns a 4-2 edge over the Trinity. The Ephs are the defending NESCAC Champions and have won four titles overall. Williams has a combination of power and speed, as it leads the league in home runs (36), is tied for the league lead in runs scored (201), and ranks second in the conference in slugging percentage (.496) and stolen bases (42) this year. Sophomore Mackenzie Murphy (Diablo, Calif.) is a dual threat the Ephs. She is batting .400 at the plate and owns nine wins in the circle. She is one of three players with 40-plus hits for the Ephs and is tied for third in the league in home runs (7) and doubles (12). Junior Lexi Curt (Moorpark, Calif.) has registered team-highs in hits (49), homers (9 - 2nd in the NESCAC), and is hitting .405. Sophomore Jessica Kim (Tustin, Calif.) is slugging .597 with 26 RBIs, 35 runs and 47 hits. She has seven home runs and is the only Eph to start all 38 games. First-year Rebecca Duncan (Simi Valley, Calif.) is the Ephs’ leader in the circle, making 23 appearances with 12 wins and a 1.90 ERA.
Trinity is making its second straight NESCAC Championship appearance and seventh overall as it looks for its first conference title. Patience at the plate is a key for the Bantams as they have drawn a league-best 99 walks. Junior Michelle Treglia (Fairfield, Conn.) leads Trinity in hitting with a .349 average and 37 hits. She has also knocked in 22 runs and scored 23. Sophomore Courtney Erickson (Everett, Mass.) has a team-best 27 RBIs and four home runs this season. She has started all 32 games and also contributed 28 runs this season and is tied for third in the league with 12 doubles. First-year Lindsay Golia (North Branford, Conn.) and junior Rachael Smith (Winchester, Mass.) have combined for 19 wins for Trinity. Goila owns a 2.33 ERA and has fanned 48 batters over 111 innings of work. Smith has registered 55 strikeouts in 18 appearances.
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.
Results for the NESCAC Softball Championship will be available at the completion of each day on the NESCAC website.