Softball to head to College World Series

Softball is headed to its first College World Series appearance (NCAA Final 8 to be held in Salem, VA) after defeating WPI 2-0 in a best-of-three series in the NCAA Super Regional championship.

Alexandra Marshall ’16 allowed zero earned runs over 14 innings while Amanda Lee ’18 hit a two-run blast in the first inning of Game 2 to give MIT a decisive advantage in a series that was dominated by stellar pitching.

A series on the road against a team that had just eliminated the three-time defending national champions, Tufts, and the team that had 4-1 record this against the Engineers this season seemed like a daunting task.

Game 1:

Thankfully for MIT, on the mound, they had an ace in Marshall. Just like she has been doing  all season, MIT’s all-time leader in strikeouts twirled a gem allowing just two hits in a complete game shutout.

Runs were hard to come by for both teams but the all-important one was driven in by rookie Amber Vanhemel ’19, who drove in Jasmin Joseph ’18 in top of the 6th inning with a single up the middle. Joseph went 3-3 and was the only player on either side to get an extra-base-hit.

However, WPI was not ready to give in without a fight. In the bottom of the final frame, it had runners on first and second base with two outs. Pinch-hitter Rianna May stepped up to the plate and hit a fly ball to right field that seemed certain to plate the game-tying run. Katherine Shade ’18 had other ideas. She made quick ground and made a diving catch to put a lid on WPI’s late rally.

Game 2:

MIT got a off to a great start in the second game when Lee  hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning. But much like the first game another pitcher’s duel ensued between Marshall and Clare Doolin.

WPI managed to reduce the deficit to one run when Kristin Gallagher hit a sacrifice fly to drive Anna Binney who had advanced to third base following an error by shortstop Lee.

As much as Marshall’s dominance on the mound has laid the platform for MIT’s record-breaking run this season, team chemistry has been a key ingredient of its success.

When Marshall needed some help, her teammates stepped up in key moments. Shade added to her highlight reel catch from Game 1 with another two in right field, homer-hero Lee who had committed two errors in the game made a great heads-up play to prevent the game tying run from reaching in scoring position in the final inning, and Marshall’s batterymate Ali Trueworthy ’17 threw out Nina Murphy-Cook (who was 3/3 in stolen bases in the series) in the penultimate frame.

With a place in the World Series up for grabs and WPI down to its last out all that was missing from another Marshall gem was a strikeout and by now you can guess how WPI’s fate was sealed.

MIT’s World Series adventure starts this coming Thursday in Salem, Virginia.