Playoff Fates to be Determined This Weekend for Amherst

AMHERST, MA – Although the winter sports season ended only five weeks ago, as many as five of Amherst College’s 10 spring sports teams could be done competing by this weekend’s end. While the baseball and softball teams are still fighting for their playoff lives, the lacrosse teams will wrap up the regular seasons Friday and begin their conference tournaments Sunday. The tennis teams, meanwhile, will determine their seeding in the NESCAC Championships, which will be hosted by Amherst May 7-9.

Baseball
Photo by Kate Berry '12.

Baseball @ Middlebury
Friday, Apr. 30 – 4 p.m.
Saturday, May 1 – 12 p.m. (2)

Record: 16-10 (5-4 NESCAC West)
Can Finish as High as: #2 West
Can Finish as Low as: DNQ
Live Coverage: Live stats (Friday only)
Weekend Preview: Lord Jeff fans will need to put themselves in an unfamiliar mindset by rooting for Williams College this weekend, as Amherst needs the Ephs to defeat Wesleyan on Saturday in order to remain in the playoff hunt. In addition to relying on their archrivals, the Jeffs must sweep Middlebury (8-13/4-5) in a three-game series to earn the No. 2 seed in the West (Williams has secured the No. 1 seed). Amherst is 22-5 against the Panthers since 2001, sweeping the season series four times in that span. The Jeffs have been winning with their bats this year, ranking among the NESCAC leaders in batting average, slugging percentage and home runs. Entering the weekend with a .347 batting average, this year’s team continues to keep pace with the program’s single-season record of .347, which was set in 1991.

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Softball
Photo by Kathy Nolan '10.

Softball vs. Williams
Friday, Apr. 30 – 5 p.m. (@ Williams)
Saturday, May 1 – 12 p.m. (2, Home)

Record: 17-14 (5-4 NESCAC West)
Can Finish as High as: #2 West
Can Finish as Low as: DNQ
Live Coverage: Audio (Friday), Live stats (Saturday)
Weekend Preview: Amherst needed to win its final four games to qualify for the NESCAC Championship, and the Jeffs took their first step by defeating Hamilton in five innings on Wednesday, 9-0. Next on the checklist is a three-game sweep of Williams College (14-18-1/7-2), marking the third consecutive year the Ephs stand between Amherst and the postseason. The Jeffs did not defeat their archrivals from 2001 to 2007, but the teams are 3-3 against each other in the past two years. Williams got off to a 7-17 start but is 7-1-1 in its past nine games, while Amherst has posted a 7-3 record at home. The team's three seniors will be honored before Saturday's games, each of whom has left her mark in the program's record book.

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Men's Lacrosse
Photo by Jessica Mestre '10.

Men’s Lacrosse @ Trinity
Friday, Apr. 30 – 4 p.m.
Record: 6-6 (4-4 NESCAC)
Can Finish as High as: #3
Can Finish as Low as: #8
Live Coverage: Video
Weekend Preview: Amherst needs to defeat Trinity (9-6/2-6) this Friday in order to be in the running to host its first NESCAC Championship quarterfinal game since 2007, but a win over the Bantams will not guarantee a top-four seed. The Jeffs can climb to as high as No. 3 if they win Friday, but only if Williams defeats Middlebury and Bowdoin falls to Tufts. Amherst ended the 2009 regular season with an 11-10 win over Trinity, but the Jeffs have lost each of their past two games on the Bantams’ home field. Thomas McDonnell ’10 and Evan Redwood ’12 pace Amherst with 30 points apiece, with Alex Fox ’12 close behind at 29. McDonnell has scored 12 goals in his past three games to bring his season total to 27, moving him into second place in the NESCAC statistical ranks.

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Women's Lacrosse
Photo by Jessica Mestre '10.

Women’s Lacrosse vs. Trinity
Friday, Apr. 30 – 6 p.m.
Record: 9-4 (5-3 NESCAC)
Can Finish as High as: #4
Can Finish as Low as: #6
Weekend Preview: Eighteenth-ranked Amherst will guarantee itself a home quarterfinal game in the NESCAC Championship with a win over fourth-ranked Trinity (12-1/7-1) on Friday, but the Jeffs can secure the No. 4 seed even with a loss to the Bantams. In search of her 100th career point is Kelley Trapp ’11, who enters the weekend with 47 goals and 51 assists. Trapp’s 37 points this season are a team-high, while her 2.08 assists per game mark the second highest average in the NESCAC. On the defensive end, Meredith LaRose ’12 ranks second in the conference in caused turnovers per game (2.69) and fifth in ground balls (2.69). Amherst's four seniors will be honored prior to Friday's game.

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Men's Tennis
Photo by Kathy Nolan '10.

Men’s Tennis @ Middlebury
Saturday, May 1 – 1 p.m.
Record: 23-8 (7-0 NESCAC)
Can Finish as High as: #1
Can Finish as Low as: N/A
Weekend Preview: Amherst snapped a 15-match losing streak to Middlebury in last year’s national quarterfinals, but the Panthers (14-2/6-0) have reestablished themselves as the top-ranked team in Division III. Saturday’s match will feature the best teams the region has to offer, with Middlebury boasting the Northeast’s No. 1 singles player and No. 1 doubles pair. Five of Amherst’s eight losses this year have come to NAIA or Division II opponents, with the other three coming at the hands of Division III schools ranked in the top 10 in the nation. The Jeffs recently earned an impressive 7-2 win at Williams, but Middlebury has been steamrolling the competition as of late. In addition to defeating powerhouses Claremont and UC Santa Cruz back in March, the Panthers won each of their seven April matches by a 9-0 or 8-1 score.

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Women's Tennis
Photo by Julie Wredge, tennisrecruiting.net.

Women’s Tennis vs. Middlebury
Saturday, May 1 – 3 p.m.
Record: 13-2 (6-1 NESCAC)
Can Finish as High as: #1
Can Finish as Low as: N/A
Weekend Preview: A 6-3 loss to Williams last week will likely bump Amherst out of the top ranking in Division III and the top seed in the NESCAC Championship, but the Jeffs are no strangers to winning as the underdogs. Amherst has won each of the past five conference titles outright, earning the 2007 crown as the tournament’s No. 3 seed and the 2008 championship as the No. 2 team. Earning the top seed is still a possibility, however, as Williams has three conference matches to play this weekend. A loss to Middlebury (12-3/4-2) this Saturday could drop Amherst in the seeding, with the tournament field to be selected by a committee Saturday night. The Panthers—who last beat Amherst in the 2006-07 regular season—got off to a 12-1 start but are riding a two-match losing streak. Prior to Saturday's conference match, the Lord Jeffs will host Skidmore College at 11 a.m.