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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Jumbos finish with undefeated regular season record

2014-04-12-Softball-v.-TrinityDSC_5820
Gracie Marshall rounding second base after her home run against Trinity on April 12, 2014. Marshall scored against Wheaton (Mass.) this past weekend.

The softball team capped off its undefeated regular season this past weekend with a double-header against Wheaton (Mass.) to bring its record to 38-0, surpassing the 35-game win streak the team reached in 2009The past two national title-winning seasons (in 2014 and 2013) saw the Jumbos drop three of their regular season games, but the team was flawless this past season even with the compacted schedule due to weatherThe Jumbos have played 11 games in the past week and have played games on six straight days as they continue their bid for a third-straight national championship.

"We had a really big week this week and definitely a really tiring week, but we did the best that we could with it," sophomore Carrie Copacino said. "Every game we went out there and put in everything we had, and I think it was a very productive week for us."

Tufts easily handled Wheaton (Mass.) yesterday at an away game, scoring a run off of senior tri-captain Michelle Cooprider's homer in the first inning of the first game, and racing away with the victory as early as the second inning, when the team scored six runs to take the lead to 7-0.

Tufts first-year Raven Fournier was walked to lead off the second inning, and senior tri-captain Gracie Marshall followed with a single to put two runners on base. Two batters later, first-year Samantha Siciliano doubled to put runners on second and third as Fournier scored the first run of the game. The Jumbos continued to add on to their lead and never looked back.

Junior Christina Raso homered to put another three runs on the board. When sophomore Cassie Ruscz -- the team's leader in hits -- stepped up to the plate several plays later, Copacino, senior Bri Keenan and Cooprider had the bases loaded with just one out in the inning.

Ruscz and then Raven Fournier singled to give Tufts two more runs to cushion their lead, before Marshall lined into a double play to end the inning. Senior tri-captain Allyson Fournier was merciless with three quick outs to close the inning, as she was for the rest of the game as she notched 11 strikeouts in the five-inning game to take her season record to a perfect 22-0.

The second game ended with a much closer 8-5 finish, where the Jumbos saw their 6-1 lead get eroded in the bottom of the fourth when they gave up four runs to cut their lead to 6-5.The Jumbos scored three runs in the first inning off a pair of homers from Ruscz and FournierJunior pitcher Erica County gave up a solo shot to sophomore Caroline Fairbanks in the second, but Tufts recovered with three more runs in the fourth off a Siciliano single and an error by the hosts.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth inning, Lyons' junior Emma Hart singled to the left side, and the Jumbo defense committed multiple errors on the play to allow all four runners to score, cutting their lead to one. Tufts maintained its narrow lead until the seventh inning, when Fournier's single brought in Cooprider and Keenan to pull away from Wheaton, 8-5.

"We're starting to see some competition because we've had a lot of rain delays and delays from the weather at the beginning of the season," Copacino said. "We knew that these would be really tough games for us, but right from the beginning we had the momentum, [so] even when we had setbacks we were able to come back every time."

On Friday and Saturday, the team played a three-game series against NESCAC opponent Colby, coasting through the first two victories -- 9-0 on Friday and 10-0 in the first game on Saturday -- before narrowly squeezing out a 1-0 victory in the final game of the series. With the wins, Tufts finished 12-0 in the NESCAC East for the fourth consecutive year and has won 49 straight regular season divisional games.

After Fournier struck out the first three Colby batters to start off game one on Friday, Tufts scored four runs in the bottom of the first to take an early lead. Copacino scored off a Cooprider single to give Tufts the first run of the game, and Ruscz stepped up to the plate with Cooprider on second and Keenan on third. Ruscz homered to put the Jumbos up by four in the first inning against the Mules. After a scoreless second inning, back-to-back doubles by Marshall and first-year Raina Galbiati gave two more runs to Tufts. Senior Stephanie Tercero singled, and a sac fly by Raso made it 8-0 Tufts after just three innings.

The second game against Colby started much like the first, with the Jumbos taking a four-run lead in the first inning, led by a two-run single from Marshall in a game that was also never close. The Jumbos ran away with another four-run inning in the fourth to seal a 10-0 victory.

The final game against Colby was arguably Fournier's toughest matchup of the season, under pressure to keep Colby off the scoreboard with Tufts up by just one and the bases loaded in the top of the fourth. Fournier struck out Colby sophomore Grace Farnkoff and struck out 16 of the 24 batters she faced.

"Pitching has been fabulous, certainly [for] all four of [the pitchers]," coach Cheryl Milligan said. "We've given up fewer runs this year than we ever have, or at least comparable to that."

The team also had their best offensive showing on Thursday, beating Rhode Island College 19-0 in the first game of a double-header, and notched another 5-0 win later in the afternoon. In game one, the Jumbos offense was on fire, scoring nine runs in the third inning and eight more in the fourth, finishing with 17 hits.

"Our hitting has been pretty good this year, as good as we could have expected given the cold weather we've had to play in," Milligan said. "We've scored a lot of runs this year."

The team will begin their post-season play on Friday, May 1 at 2:30 p.m. against Middlebury at home, the first time the team has been able to host post-season play at their newly renovated Spicer field.

"We still have a lot of work to do [because] the weather has prevented us from getting a lot done, so we still have a way to go to be the team that we want to be," Milligan said. "We need to rest on Monday, and Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday we need to get outside [and] make sure that we feel like we have a home advantage on our field that we've played on probably about as much as anybody visiting us. We need to close those gaps but we're on our way, high hopes."