Softball Team Heads to National Championship
The Tufts softball team will play for the 2013 NCAA Division III title today—weather permitting—after defeating SUNY Cortland, 6–0, in game 11 of the NCAA championship finals at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s Gelein Park on May 19.
The Jumbos (45–3) are slated to play for the championship this afternoon, starting at 3 (Eastern Time). Cortland, Salisbury and Texas-Tyler will vie for the spot opposite Tufts in the final round during elimination games earlier today. Any one of those squads will have to defeat Tufts twice to win the national title; if a second game is necessary, it will be played tomorrow, May 21, at 11 a.m.
Tufts’ game against Cortland (34–16) featured the two teams that advanced through the first two days of the tournament with 2–0 records. Sophomore pitcher Allyson Fournier gave Tufts the upper hand by hurling a five-hit shutout for the victory.
Six Jumbos were actively involved in the offense, as Tufts finished with nine hits against Cortland pitcher Amber Corrigan. Junior right fielder Sara Hedtler was 2 for 3, with a run atop the batting order. Junior All-American catcher Jo Clair finished 2 for 3, with two runs. Senior shortstop Emily Beinecke scored twice, while going 1 for 3. Sophomore center fielder Michelle Cooprider had her best game of the weekend, at 2 for 2, with a run and RBI. Sophomore second baseman Gracie Marshall drove in two more runs, while sophomore first baseman Kris Parr also had two RBIs.
Fournier, now 3–0 at the NCAA finals and 24–1 overall for the season, retired the first 12 hitters she faced. Tufts scored one run in the first as Hedtler led off with a single. With Hedtler on second and one out, Clair was intentionally walked. After two were out, Cooprider walked, and then a base hit by Marshall scored Hedtler.
The Jumbos extended their advantage to 3–0 in the top of the third. Clair and Beinecke both singled and scored on a single by Cooprider and a sacrifice fly by Parr.
Tufts pushed its lead to 4–0 with a single run in the fifth. Cooprider was in the middle of it again with a one-out infield single. She came all the way around to score on Parr’s double to left-center.
Center fielder Cassie Kardias singled for Cortland’s first hit to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Their second and third hits soon followed as the Red Dragons loaded the bases with singles by shortstop Erin Wolstenholme and third baseman Courtney Kadish. Fournier worked out of the jam, though, getting a strikeout and catching a line drive back at her to maintain Tufts’ 4–0 lead.
The game included a two-hour weather delay, and Tufts was leading 4–0 heading into the bottom of the sixth when play was stopped.
The Jumbos didn’t miss a beat when play resumed. Fournier gave up a lead-off single to left fielder Diane Cork in the bottom of the sixth, but retired the next three. The bats added to the Jumbo lead with two more in the top of the seventh. Claire led off with a single, and Beinecke followed with a walk. After Cooprider was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Marshall’s fielder’s choice scored Clair, and Beinecke came home on a Cortland error.
With the team’s berth into the final round three outs away, Fournier allowed a lead-off single to DH Nicole Gallo in the bottom of the seventh. However, she finished off the victory in style by striking out the next three hitters.
In her seven innings, Fournier allowed five hits and struck out eight while walking none. For three appearances at the NCAA Finals, she has allowed just one earned run in 22 innings for a 0.31 earned run average. She has struck out 28 and walked just two.
No one in the Cortland line-up had more than one hit.
Tufts Sports Information Director Paul Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com.