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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Saturday, May 25, 2024

Softball sweeps doubleheaders at Williams, Middlebury

A member of the softball team is pictured on April 2.

Unfazed by a 5–4 loss at No. 25 MIT on April 11, just their second loss of the season, No. 9 Tufts went 4–0 on this weekend’s road trip, improving to 26–2 on the season and a perfect 10–0 in NESCAC play to lead the conference. The Jumbos kept the momentum up during the week, beating the Babson Beavers 1–0 on Wednesday.

Jumbo softball began the weekend with a 4–3 win over the Williams Ephs. Tufts broke the scoreless tie in the top of the third with a two-run single by senior utility player Josie Steinberg and a two-run double by senior utility player Rachel Moore. That was all the offense they needed, as the Ephs’ comeback bid fell just short. 

The Jumbos won more comfortably in the second leg of the doubleheader. They took the lead for good with a three-run fourth inning, but also added a run in the fifth and two in the sixth. First-year utility player Kaitlyn Perucci had a pair of doubles and knocked in three in the Jumbos’ 7–2 win. 

Tufts traveled to Middlebury for another doubleheader on Sunday, which it also swept. The first game saw junior pitcher Sophia DiCocco blank the Panthers over five innings, while Perucci drove in five more runs on two triples, leading the Jumbos to a 9–0 mercy rule win. 

Later that day, first-year pitcher Emilie Doty threw a complete game, allowing just one run on four hits while striking out six batters over seven innings. The offense was hot right out of the gate, scoring five runs in the first two innings as the Jumbos rolled again, winning 6–1. 

Perucci and Moore led the offense, combining for 14 hits while driving in 14 of the team’s 26 runs this weekend. Following Wednesday’s game, their season OPS marks improved to 1.057 and 1.178 respectively, the latter of which leads the team. 

Pitching was solid once again. Doty, DiCocco and sophomore pitcher Sky Johnson covered all 26 innings of the weekend and held opponents to just six runs and 17 hits in the four games. The trio struck out 14 batters and walked only three. 

Doty earned NESCAC Pitcher of the Week honors for her performance. For the week as a whole, she pitched 16 innings and gave up just three earned runs, 11 hits and three walks while striking out 14. She improved to 7–1 on the season with a 0.77 ERA and a 5.5 strikeout-to-walk rate. Her 62 strikeouts on the season lead the team, and Doty is still trying to process her outstanding start to the year. 

“I definitely didn’t expect this this early on.” Doty said. “I’m surprised that I won this award, and I guess I just didn’t expect any of it to happen.”

Tufts pitchers have allowed just 44 runs in their 29 games, pitching to a 1.21 team ERA, holding opponents to a .199 batting average and striking out 155 batters while allowing only 26 walks. Without a set starting rotation, Jumbo pitchers have to stay on their toes, knowing they could be called on to pitch at any time. 

“There’s not much time to mentally prepare, but I guess it would just be a bullpen [session] if [Head Coach Laura Ebstein] tells me to just go warm up.” Doty said. “I don’t know when I’m going in. But I know that if it’s going to happen, I’m just going to have to go out there and do my best.”

Because NESCAC standings are determined by in-conference record, matchups against rivals carry extra weight. The Jumbos enter each conference game with extra motivation. Doty identified an individual opponent as a motivating factor for her this weekend. 

“The freshman pitcher for Williams, Sadie Leonard, she has an incredible ERA,” Doty said. “Before we played them, she had a 0.40 ERA while I had a 0.41, so that really motivated me to do a little better than she did.”

After getting off to such a hot start in the regular season, the Jumbos are playing with a well-earned chip on their shoulder. This team has goals that go well beyond the 10 games remaining in the regular season. 

“All of us know that we have the potential to go really far this season,” Doty said. “We all get along together, and we’re all really motivated to get to the national championship.”

The Jumbos look to stay undefeated in NESCAC play this weekend. They’ll play two more doubleheaders, one at home against Wesleyan on Saturday and away at Trinity on Sunday.