Comeback Win Keeps Softball in NCAA Contention
Sophomore leftfielder Bri Keenan’s two-out triple in the ninth inning scored the go-ahead run as the Jumbos beat the Red Hawks of Montclair State University, 3-1, in extra innings game eight of the NCAA softball finals on May 18 at Wisconsin-Eau Clair’s Gelein Field.
Tufts (44-3) advanced in the winner’s bracket to play May 19 at 6 p.m. ET against SUNY Cortland, with the winner moving onto the championship round.
The Jumbos had a scoring chance in the top of the first when junior catcher Jo Clair doubled with two outs. Senior shortstop Emily Beinecke followed with a single, but Clair was thrown out at home by centerfielder Jamie Paulino.
Tufts starting pitcher, sophomore Allyson Fournier, retired the first 11 batters she faced until she allowed a solo homer to Dana Amato in the fourth inning.
The Jumbos tried to answer back against Red Hawks starting pitcher Alex Hill in the fifth inning, but they left sophomore second baseman Gracie Marshall stranded at first base after a two-out single.
Fournier retired Montclair State in order in the bottom of the fifth to keep Tufts behind by a score of 1-0. In the sixth inning, Keenan reached on a single. After Clair worked a walk, Beinecke singled to load the bases for sophomore centerfielder Michelle Cooprider, who delivered a clutch RBI single to tie the game at 1-1.
The first two batters in the bottom of the sixth reached base for the Red Hawks against Fournier. She battled back to get a bunt pop out and a fielder’s choice. With runners on first and second and two outs, Amato singled, but the runner from second base, Jaclyn Allegretta, was thrown out at home from left field by Keenan.
Both sides had base runners in the seventh inning, but could not convert, sending the game into extra innings. The Jumbos put two on with one out in the eighth before Hill picked up a strikeout and a foul out to end the frame. Fournier would strand a Red Hawk on base in the bottom of the inning as well.
Marshall began the ninth for Tufts with a walk, but was forced out on a fielder’s choice by first-year third baseman Christina Raso. After junior rightfielder Sara Hedtler popped up to the pitcher, Keenan stepped up and scored Raso all the way from first base with a triple to right field. The Red Hawks elected to walk Clair intentionally, and Beinecke made them pay with an RBI single to put the Jumbos ahead, 3-1.
Fournier retired Montclair State in order in the bottom of the ninth to give Tufts the victory, moving her record to 23-1. She allowed one run on three hits with two walks and 12 strikeouts in the full nine innings.
Hill (38-4) suffered the loss for the Red Hawks, going all nine innings as well, giving up three runs on 12 hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
Tufts out-hit Montclair State 12-3 in the game and was led by three hits each from Beinecke and Cooprider. Each also had an RBI. Keenan and Clair had two hits apiece. Clair also reached two other times on walks.
Tufts Sports Information Director Paul Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com.