Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Softball

The Setonian
Softball

Women's softball looks to fill outfield holes

The women's softball team has not experienced much turnover from last season - except, that is, in the outfield. With the graduation of former captain Randee McArdle and the transfer of Jenica Spogen to another school, the Jumbos are looking to fill two big holes in the outfield.For the first time in four years, McArdle will not be roaming centerfield for the team - a loss which the Jumbos will clearly feel. Last season's NESCAC Player of the Year and third-team All-American, McArdle recorded one of the best individual seasons in Tufts history, which included 35 RBI's in 34 games, a .369 batting average, 11 doubles, four triples and six home runs. The impressive statistics were not exclusive to McArdle's senior season. She ranks fourth all time at Tufts in hits (147), first in doubles (33), triples (13), RBIs (103), total bases (242), second in career games played (145), third in homeruns (12), and fourth in slugging percentage (.559).Senior Jen Mackey said losing McArdle puts a huge dent in the team. "She was a great player and she always stepped up in big situations," Mackey said. "She is a great person and great leader."Team members say those intangibles won't easily be filled, but that leaders will surely emerge."She had a certain style of leadership," senior pitcher Jodie Moreau said. "She was very unique in that she touched all the players with her leadership. Each player has a different style of doing things. Yes she will be missed, but [the older players] have picked up where she left off."Mackey, Moreau, Emily Ferrazza and Tiffany Trahan are the four seniors who will be counted on to take key leadership rolls this season.Spogen's absence could prove troublesome. The two-year team member did not quite have the resume as McArdle, but was one of the team's better players. Last season, Spogen finished fourth on the team in batting average (.337), RBIs (19) and total bases (46)."Jenica is gonna be a huge loss," Mackey said. "She kept things light. She was a great outfielder and a great hitter."Not only is the team going to miss Spogen for her talents on the field, but her personality was endearing to teammates. "Jenica was very unique to the team and we are really going to miss her a lot," Moreau said. "It's kind of sad that she didn't want to stay, but I know it's the best thing for her." One player who may benefit from the absences of McArdle and Spogen is sophomore utility player Julie Fox, who will likely play full time in one of the vacated outfield spots. Fox has the potential to emerge this season, having batted .333 with a .439 slugging percentage in limited action last year. She was also perfect in the field, not recording an error in 22 chances."Julie Fox stepped up last year on more than one key occasion," Moreau said. "She has come through both on the offensive and on and the defensive side."Mackey echoed her teammate's sentiments. "[McArdle and Spogen] were obviously very productive hitters but when Julie Fox got in their she was a good power and contact hitter. So I'm sure she will step up. Last year she made a few spectacular plays that opened up some eyes." While it seems all but certain that Fox will fill one of the two outfield holes, it remains to be seen who will fill the other vacancy. There is a chance that one of the three freshmen, such as Courtney Bongliolatti, could become a starting outfielder. Another player with a chance at earning a starting position in the outfield is sophomore Maggie McClory, who batted .250 in 18 games and also went 2-0 with a 2.02 ERA in 17.1 innings on the mound. "I'm confident in others filling [Spogen and McArdle's] rolls," Mackey said. "I'm sure Fox will step up and a few freshman have been hitting well."How the outfield picture shapes up could go a long way toward determining the team's fate. "We have had two scrimmages so far and compared to last year we look a lot better than we did," Mackey said. "We look good as a team. Everyone has been making good contact and we want to make up for last year cause we lost in regionals. Our team is really driven to get back and to prove that last year was a fluke."


The Setonian
Softball

Softball clinches NESCAC East title

The softball team clinched the NESCAC East title with a doubleheader sweep over the Bates Bobcats on Saturday in Maine. Tufts started the afternoon off with an 8-0 win before picking up a 5-2 victory in the backend of the twinbill. The wins were the seventh consecutive victories for the Jumbos as they improved their unblemished NESCAC record to 6-0 and 20-7 overall. "We had no idea about Bates record, if they were good, we had no clue," junior catcher Lis Drake said. "That is usually the way we go into the games. We just worry about playing our game and getting it done. We definitely do not worry that much about the other teams." Senior co-captain Jodie Moreau once again led the way for Tufts, pitching the opener of the doubleheader. Moreau rebounded nicely from last weekend's uncharacteristic outing when Trinity tagged her for four earned runs and ten hits over eight innings. On Saturday, Moreau was once again her dominant self as she threw four impressive innings before coach Kris Talon gave freshman Pam Swidler the chance to pitch the fifth and final inning of the contest. Despite coming out early, Moureau still picked up her 14th win of the season and currently stands only two victories from the all time Tufts record of 54, set by Michelle Lima in 1997. The duo of Moreau and Swindler did not let a runner get past second base for the entire game. "Jodie did a good job despite the fact that they were standing all the way back in the batters box," Drake said. "She still did awesome." Senior first baseman Tiffany Trahan - the second leading homerun hitter in Tufts history - provided the offensive spark in the opener, drilling her fifth homerun of the season. In the second game, Swidler got a surprising start on the mound and justified her coach's confidence in her by tossing five strong innings and surrendering only two runs. Freshman Caroline Grieco, Tufts normal number-two starter, came in to close the game in sixth and notched the first save of her collegiate career. "I think [coach gave her the start] because she is still young and needs to get all the experience she can get it," Drake said of Swidler. "And to prove it to herself and to us that she can get the job done. She needs to get some experience and she is working hard and she has a great attitude." Despite the alteration of the normal pitching lineup, Drake stressed that the team is confident when any of its pitchers take the mound. "I guess Caroline has been pitching the second game, but we feel pretty confident with anyone going out there because we have pretty solid defense with any of the pitchers," she said. "This year has been more predictable than usual [in terms of who is going to pitch], but usually we don't know who is going to be pitching. This year has been more consistent and predictable but I think it was kind of assumed that Pam would keep going [on Saturday]." Offensively, Drake had the big hit in game two, slamming her team-leading seventh homer of the year and extended her career Tufts mark to 22. With one more homerun, Drake will tie Tufts single season homer mark of eight, a record which she set last season. Senior shortstop Jen Mackey demonstrated why she has been the team's best hitter throughout the season as she put together yet another startling offensive display. Going into the games against Bates, Mackey was batting a NESCAC-leading .507 for the season. Amazingly, Mackey managed to raise her batting average to .525 after a weekend where she went 5-7. The shortstop also scored three runs and collected three doubles and one RBI in the doubleheader. Entering the weekend, Amherst was the only other NESCAC team with an undefeated record, but the Lord Jeffs split a doubleheader with Trinity, and currently stand at 15-9, 7-1. Leading the NESCAC West, Amherst will play Tufts at 3:30 this afternoon, in what could be a preview of the NESCAC championship.


The Setonian
Softball

Softball sweeps Amherst, still undefeated in NESCAC

In yesterday's final two home NESCAC games of the season, Tufts swept Amherst 5-0, 4-1, remaining the only undefeated team in the conference. Amherst came in boasting a perfect 6-0 NESCAC record and had won seven of its last nine, but the Lord Jeffs' bats went silent against the dominant senior hurler Jodie Moreau and emerging freshman Caroline Grieco. In fact, Amherst did not hit a fly ball until the third inning of the second game. Entering the contest, both teams were undefeated in conference play, and the top two pitchers in the league squared off on the mound during game one. Senior co-captain Lauren Peloquin was 13-5 with a 1.24 ERA for Amherst, but the Tufts bats had no trouble getting to work against her. In the top of the first, senior Jen Mackey skied a double to left field and sophomore Julie Fox drove her home two batters later for the first run. "Lauren Peloquin is a great pitcher but if any team can hit her it will be us," coach Kris Talon said. "We came out and scored a run in the first. Jen Mackey has been hitting her for four years." Interestingly, Mackey and Peloquin have been rivals since high school, and according to Mackey's mother, "Jen has always creamed her." On the mound, Moreau was yet again impressive in the complete game, two-hit shutout, where she struck out ten and only let three Jeffs into scoring position. With the victory, she picked up her NESCAC-best 15th win of the season. Tufts slowly added to the lead, picking up a run in the third, as sophomore Deana Davidian scored on a Mackey RBI. In the fourth, Moreau had a RBI double and then scored a run on a Davidian single. Senior Tiffany Trahan scored the final run of the game in the sixth off of a double by Fox. In the second game, Grieco took the mound against junior Emily Melia, and came out very strong, retiring the first ten batters in order. Meanwhile, Tufts' typically slugging offense put together two runs in the second using small ball, with five consecutive bunts. Trahan led off with a single and Moreau attempted the sacrifice bunt, but reached on an error. Davidian moved both runners along with a successful sacrifice bunt. Sophomore Maggie McClory and junior Nikki Blottner then both converted squeeze bunts, and senior co-captain Emily Ferrazza attempted another squeeze play, but McClory was called out at the plate. "We had a good opportunity to squeeze twice, and we had a pretty good handle on the game at that point," Talon said. We had a fairly fast kid on third (McClory) and we were just kind of testing them defensively." Amherst had its best scoring opportunity in the fourth as the team loaded the bases with only one out. Following Tufts' lead, Melia attempted the squeeze play but Trahan threw the runner out at home. The next batter grounded out, and Grieco was out of the jam. The Jumbos increased their lead to 4-0 by the bottom of the fourth, and they cruised on until the top of the seventh. Amherst led off the inning with two consecutive singles before the third batter of the inning grounded to second. On the double play attempt, Mackey's throw to first went past Trahan and the unearned run came around to score. The next batter hit a high fly ball to McClory in left field, and she was able to double up the runner on second to end the game. The team leaders included Fox, who was 2-4 with three RBI, and Mackey (current NESCAC Player of the Week), who went 3-7 with a RBI and a run scored. But clearly the victories belong to the two pitchers who both pitched complete games. "One unearned run in two games. You can't really ask for much more than that from the pitching or defense," Talon said. On paper, Amherst was the other team to beat in the conference, but Tufts made it pretty clear that they were the only team in the upper echelon. "We try not to think who is on the other side of the field and go out and play our game," Davidian said. "We play solid defense and hit the ball well and let the rest fall into place." This afternoon the team will play its final home game of the season at 4:30 p.m. against non-conference Babson. Originally, yesterday's contest was scheduled to be final game and there was a small ceremony for the four seniors at the conclusion of the doubleheader. Although today's game has no bearing on conference standings, it could factor into later postseason seedings. "They are an up and coming team in their conference," Talon said of Babson. This season the Beavers are 23-12, and should be a worthy tune up before Tufts heads to Colby on Saturday for the final regular season games of the year.


The Setonian
Softball

Softball sweeps Springfield

The women's softball team extended its win streak to five games after sweeping a doubleheader against Springfield College on Tuesday afternoon. The victories improved Tufts' mark to 18-7 on the season and 11-2 since its spring break trip to California. Making the win even more sweet was the fact that the team's struggling offense seemed to shake its slump in the 8-5, 6-2 victories. As usual, senior co-captain Jodie Moreau led the way for the Jumbos as she pitched the opener of the twinbill. Despite not being in top form and allowing four earned runs, Moreau managed to bear down when she had to and upped her record to a whopping 13-1. Entering the contest, Moreau's ERA was a microscopic 0.37. Although she was not her normal dominant self, Moreau still managed to strike out ten and kept her team in the game. "She is still the best pitcher around," coach Kris Talon said. "She gives up a few runs and everyone asks, 'what's going on?' Springfield is an excellent hitting team. They just got the bat on the ball. They just went with the pitch. You got to give them credit. Jodie is not going to get everyone out all the time and it's no cause for alarm." Senior first baseman Tiffany Trahan and sophomore outfielder Julie Fox carried the team offensively - the duo collected two and three RBI, respectively, while also scoring two runs apiece. For the second time in a row for the Jumbos, the game ended in extra innings and the International Tie Breaker rule went into effect. The International Tie Breaker rule states that when a game goes into extra frames, the batter who made the final out in the seventh inning is put on second base to begin the eighth. On Sunday, senior co-captain/second baseman Emily Ferrazza was put on second base and she subsequently scored the game winning run against Eastern Connecticut. On Tuesday, sophomore third baseman Deana Davidian began the top of the eighth inning on second base as the go-ahead run. Davidian ended up scoring what turned out to be the game-winning run when senior shortstop Jen Mackey doubled her home with one out in the inning. The Jumbos scratched together two more runs in the inning and then Moreau sealed the deal in the bottom half of the eighth to give Tufts the win. "We had a lot of opportunities with that many hits [13]," Talon said. "We certainly left many runners on base to go into extra innings. The good news is they fought back and we went ahead for good in the end. We have a talented team." In the second half of the double header, freshman Caroline Grieco continued her emergence as the team's number two starter. After throwing 7.1 solid innings (surrendering only one run and five hits) in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader against Eastern Connecticut, Grieco was once again in top form on Tuesday. In a complete game effort, Grieco gave up two runs - only one of which was earned - and scattered eight hits while striking out one. With the win, Grieco bettered her record to 4-2 on the season. "She has done really well," Talon said of her freshman hurler. "Yesterday, her control wasn't quite as good [as it was on Sunday]. She mixed her speeds well. We have some kids swinging at her rising fastball and if she is hitting her spots. We are pleased with her progress. When she is on she is good and she is getting better all the time." Although Grieco managed to keep most of Springfield's hitters off balance over the course of the afternoon, junior first baseman Ali Gerrish had her way with Greico, going 4-4. The base hits were meaningless, however, as none of them resulted in RBI. Unlike the first game, the outcome of the second game was never in much doubt - the Jumbos scored three runs in the top of the first, building a lead that they would never relinquish. Incidentally, it wasn't a big hit that set up the rally; rather Tufts played small ball to muster together the three runs, capitalizing on a few singles and walks to go along with a series of poor fielding plays on Springfield's part. For the game, Mackey, junior catcher Lis Drake, and freshman outfielder Courtney Bongiolatti all had two hits for the Jumbos. After eight consecutive non-conference games, the team finally gets back into its NESCAC schedule on Saturday with a doubleheader against Bates in Lewiston, ME. "One of our goals is to be undefeated in the NESCAC," Talon said. "Bates and Colby are both worthy opponents. [Bates is a] young team and [it has] struggled. In the immediate past they have definitely done better. We expect that were the better team. We feel like we really need to go up and dominate them.


The Setonian
Softball

Women's softball has great expectations

With seven top-five finishes in New England in the past seven years, and aspirations of reaching the College World Series this season, the women's softball team begins its competitive schedule on Monday. Despite a few key losses to the roster, the team - currently ranked 22nd nationally - is packed with talent and experience. Led by coach Kris Talon, last year's NESCAC Coach of the Year, as well as senior co-captains Jodie Moreau and Emily Ferrazza, the squad will look to finalize its lineup during its Spring Break trip to Orange, CA. "We know we are one of the best teams in the region, and we have to go out and prove it in every game," Ferrazza said. "We have to play one game at a time and not look at the standings too much." Infield Last year's entire experienced infield squad is returning, which raises only one question. Will there be enough room in the dugout to store all of the awards that these women have won? Behind the plate is junior catcher Lis Drake, who was named Second Team All-American, as well as First Team All-NESCAC. Hitting eight home runs last year, the sophomore set Tufts' single-season and career (15) records for home runs. Second on Tufts' all-time home run list is first baseman Tiffany Trahan, a senior, who has 12 career dingers. Last season, Trahan was named to the First Team All-NESCAC as well, after batting .362 and knocking in 33 RBIs. Solid with the glove, Trahan only committed one error in 324 chances last season. To her left will be Ferrazza, a solid second-baseman, whose leadership became apparent in the NCAA tournament last year when she batted .421 and scored six runs in the five postseason games as a leadoff hitter. As one of the four seniors on the team, Ferrazza is impressed with the team's experience. "We have a ton of leadership on the team this year," she said. "Jodie and I have completely different personalities, so our leadership styles compliment each other well." Ferrazza's double-play partner will be senior Jen Mackey, who led the team last year with a .377 batting average and 33 runs scored. Also a First Team All-NESCAC selection, the shortstop will provide a lot of on-field leadership. Sophomore Deana Davidian assumed the starting role at third base last year, and thrived, hitting .321 and scoring 20 runs. With a year of college ball under her belt, Davidian should continue to improve in the competitive collegiate atmosphere. Outfield To offset the certainty in the infield positions, two of the three outfield positions are completely up for grabs this year, as a transfer and graduation took two solid outfielders from the team. Replacing graduate Third Team All-American Randee McArdle will be no easy feat, as the center-fielder led last year's squad in hits, doubles, triples, RBIs, and slugging percentage. Jenica Spogen, a sophomore last year, also transferred, and her strong bat will also be sorely missed. Junior Nikki Blotner will reprise her role as the starting right fielder this season, but the center and left field positions are still up in the air, as a few returning players and freshmen are vying for these spots. "We will miss them," Trahan said of McArdle, Spogen, and graduated pitcher Rachel Brecher. "They are great people and players. Hopefully the freshmen will step up." Among the players competing for the two vacancies are sophomores Maggie McClory, Julie Fox, and Pam Swidler and freshman Courtney Bongiolatti. "At this point, we don't know who is going to play in the outfield," Ferrazza said. "Whoever steps up is who coach will start."Pitching Although the Jumbos have only one definite starter at the moment, no one is overly concerned, as Moreau has established herself as one of the best pitchers in the region. Last year, she went 17-5 with a 1.33 ERA, fanning 129 batters. "When Jodie is pitching she always throws ground balls," Fezzarra said. It is great playing behind her, but there are never any easy games in this league." Returning to the pitching staff are McClory and sophomore Kasey Lindsey, whose exact roles are not yet known. Swidler, a transfer student, and freshman Caroline Grieco may also see some time on the mound. "We have a great group of freshmen," Ferrazza said. "They are fitting in well and they are hard working."Coaches Talon has established herself as one of the premier Div. III coaches in the nation. in the past eight years, the team has posted a 207-85-2 record. Assistant coaches Cheryl Milligan and Cora Thompson helped Talon win the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) New England Region Coaching Staff of the Year in 2001. Ranked 21st nationally last year, and tenth the year before, Talon has set high standards for the program, and the team has answered her challenges year in and year out. Outlook The 2002 edition of the women's softball team seems to have all the pieces in place to put up another stellar season. Last year, it won the first ever NESCAC championship, and repeating that feat is the primary goal of the team. Aspirations of being one of the eight teams in the College World Series are another. The spring break trip should also answer questions about starting roles and will give the team a chance to prepare for the upcoming conference schedule. The California games are a great opportunity to see some of the best softball in the country," Ferrazza said. "We will be able to see what we are going to face for the rest of the year and we will get to play [conference rival] Williams out there."


The Setonian
Softball

Softball team dominates Bates 7-1, 5-1 in doubleheader

The women's softball team improved its season record to 10-7-1 and began NESCAC play in perfect form on Saturday, taking both games of a doubleheader from Bates by scores of 7-1 and 5-1. Combining power from the offensive side and stellar pitching and defense, the Jumbos rolled over a respectable Bobcat team (7-10). With junior ace Jodie Moreau on the mound, the Jumbos rarely need much offensive support, and Saturday was no exception. Moreau allowed just four hits, walking none, and fanned seven batters as she improved to 5-3 on the season. "It was a pretty smooth game," Moreau said. "There weren't any errors made. We were strong both offensively and defensively. We got everything done that we needed to." On the offensive side of the plate, five of the seven Jumbo runs came via the long ball. Junior first baseman Tiffany Trahan hit a solo shot, her second of the season, in the third inning. Trahan, a lefty, actually pounded the ball off of the scoreboard in right field, a feat she had been joking about before the game. "When we were stretching before the game, I pointed at the scoreboard and said 'I'm taking that down,'" Trahan said. "We've been waiting for someone to hit a ball off the scoreboard," Moreau said. "Tiffany actually called that shot, which is really weird." Sophomore Jenica Spogen nailed a three-run drive over the wall later in the inning, boosting the Tufts lead to 6-0. Senior co-captain Randee McArdle added a solo shot in the fifth inning, her first of the year. With nothing but goose eggs on the scoreboard through five innings, the Bobcats' offense woke up briefly, as junior Sarah Huffman drove in a run on a one-out single in the sixth. Bates' pitcher Ginger Walsh (1-6) gave up seven runs on eight hits. In the second game of the doubleheader, Bates jumped out to a 1-0 lead with an RBI single by freshman Cami Dyson in the top of the first. In the bottom of the inning, though, Tufts received all the offense that it needed, courtesy of a three-run blast by Trahan over the centerfield wall. Brecher scattered four more hits over the remainder of the game, and Tufts added runs in both the third and fourth innings for the easy 5-1 win. Trahan was 3-7 with five runs batted in for the day, while Spogen was 3-6 with 4 RBIs. Trahan now leads the team with 14 RBIs. With the two victories, the Jumbos moved to 2-0 in NESCAC play, tying them with Bowdoin, which swept Trinity this weekend. "The NESCAC is what we are playing for, so the wins yesterday were really big," Moreau said. "We were prepped on Bates being a good team. I am unfamiliar with their program, but it was a good sign that we were able to beat them so easily." Tomorrow, the Jumbos will face Salem State, which, despite a 3-7 record, has a .369 team batting average. The non-conference game should test Tufts' pitching unit, which has been slightly inconsistent this year. On Saturday, the team will travel to Amherst for a doubleheader. Amherst, 2-0 in the NESCAC West and 11-4 overall, should provide strong competition in at least one of the two games. Ace Lauren Peloquin has complied an 8-0 record, relinquishing only one run over 57.1 innings this season for a 0.12 ERA. Off to a strong start early in NESCAC play, Tufts will be tested to see if it can maintain the top position in the conference.



The Setonian
Softball

Women's softball hosts invitational this weekend

Peaking at the perfect time in the season with eight wins in its past nine games, the women's softball team (16-8-1) this weekend will host the Tufts Invitational, a series of contests featuring both NESCAC and non-conference New England rivals. The tournament is taking place for the third time, although it was omitted last season due to scheduling reasons. Currently one of the three undefeated teams in the NESCAC East conference, Tufts (4-0) will take on Colby (6-4, 2-0) in a doubleheader on Saturday. Later that afternoon, it will face Emerson, the squad's third game of the day. "Colby is our biggest rival this weekend, no question," coach Kris Talon said. "The first two games of the tourney are our NESCAC East games. They are must win for both teams." Colby is led by junior Kate Magnuson, who is currently hitting at a blistering .469 pace, to go along with a .565 slugging percentage. The White Mules have had much success thus far this season, but are relatively untested, with only ten games under their belt compared to the 25 that Tufts has played. The Jumbos will focus on the fundamentals which have brought them victories so far this season. "Mental intensity, which we can be very good at, will be a key," Talon said. "Solid pitching all weekend and continuing to hit the ball well will of course be important. We left a few too many runners on base against Springfield. We need to get them in." On Sunday, Tufts will play Endicott College and another team to be determined. With five games in just over 24 hours, pitching and fatigue will surely beleaguer many of the teams in the tournament, but Talon feels this will play to the Jumbos' advantage. "We have the deepest pitching staff in the region," Talon said. "Intensity cannot be a factor, as a team we will not tolerate lack thereof. Fatigue is probably a reality at this time of year on the academic schedule, but we can overcome that with softball intensity - that is one of our strengths." Offensive depth is also one of the team's assets, as all 14 members - including pitchers - have at least one RBI on the season. "We have great depth offensively especially, and on defense as well," Talon said. "Our 14th player is better than anyone else's in the conference. Ours is a true team effort." The Tufts Invitational begins at noon on Saturday, and will continue throughout the weekend.


The Setonian
Softball

Women's softball looks to return to College World Series

It is often said that success is hard to duplicate. After advancing to the College World Series in Salem, VA, and earning a number-ten ranking in the final national poll last season, the women's softball team has the challenge of repeating and perhaps even exceeding last year's accomplishments. After graduating only two players, the women believe that they have the talent and experience to put together another extended postseason run. "Essentially, we have starters back at every position," coach Kris Talon said. "Having returning people all across the board and being one of the last eight teams playing last year means we should be pretty good. Hopefully, we will get back to the World Series, but a lot of good things have to happen." With the opening day lineup basically set, there will be little competition for positions, and there has to be some concern that this could lead to complacency. "I think everyone on our team is pretty hungry," junior shortstop Jen Mackey said. "Per se there is no competition, but you can make some in your mind. I don't think that is much of a factor." "Towards the end of last season we did some position changes, so just because we lost only two seniors does not mean that positions are set in stone," senior co-captain Randee McArdle said. "We have several players trying out new positions, and they could end up starting. Not only could new people start but [returning] people in new positions." While the team carries only two senior players (McArdle and pitcher Rachel Brecher) and four juniors (Mackey, first baseman Tiffany Trahan, second baseman Emily Ferezza, and P/3B Jodie Moreau), the team is rather experienced overall. Talon expects to rely on her upperclassman to provide leadership for younger players. "Leadership is a big reason why Tufts softball has been successful over the last four or five years," Talon said. "We have a lot of commitment to the basics like working hard. Randee returns as captain and is a kid that the rest of the team looks to. Rachel Brecher: I have not seen someone who works as hard for her goals and the teams. Our players are asked to lead themselves everyday." Offensively, the team should be solid. Six returning players batted over .300 and three players (McArdle, Trahan, and sophomore catcher Lis Drake) hit five or more home runs. The same triumvirate drove in 25 or more runs. Drake, a third team Louisville-Slugger Award winner in her rookie season, is the biggest bopper in a strong lineup. The sophomore slugger hit .374 with ten doubles, seven home runs, and 29 RBI to go along with a .714 slugging percentage, and led the team in each of those categories. "Offensively on paper we are real good," Talon said. "We definitely have three kids who can hit the ball out of the park repeatedly. One through nine we are going to have good hitters, no matter who they are. We are looking at a team with almost 90 extra-base hits that slugged well over .400. We are a pretty good power hitting team." Despite the seemingly potent offense, the team went into a big-time slump during the postseason last year, a plight that the women hope to avoid this season. "We did not hit at all during the World Series," Talon said. "We just hit a slump at an inopportune time, but we showed the strength of our plain old character in regionals where our hitting was not strong, but we got some timely hits and good defense and pitching. We won one game with two hits. I think it was just a slump. We are going to put an emphasis on good offense workouts." "We are working a lot more on hitting in practice," McArdle said. "It is easy to devote time to defense, but this year coach is making a conscientious effort to hit more. We are seeing live pitching." While the squad excelled on offense last season, with the exception of the lapse during the playoffs, the old saying goes that defense and pitching win championships. "Defense is our priority," Talon said. "I'm from the school that defense wins in the end. It is a given that we are going to play perfect defense or close to it." Fielding prowess may be key to finding a winning formula, but a closer look at the team's statistics from last year shows that the Jumbos were not exactly an air-tight unit, as the squad committed 85 errors last season, as compared 72 for opponents. "In the beginning of any season, defense is a little shaky especially because we play indoors for a month," McArdle said. "You get used to different hops that the ball takes on hard ground as opposed to the hops it takes on dirt. So far it seems to be coming around." Last season, the softball team featured two pitchers, Brecher and junior Jodie Moreau, who combined to pitch all of the team's games. Moreau, who overpowers the opposition, threw 150 innings, winning 14 games and losing eight while setting the school record for strikeouts in a season with 119. Brecher is more of a finesse pitcher and complied an 11-4 record with 34 strikeouts in 95 innings of work. Rookies Kasey Lindsey and Maggie McClory join the rotation this year. "As they say traditionally, pitching has been the name of the game in fast pitch softball," Talon said. "We have four pitchers. We have Jodie who is our top gun and was first team All-New England. She wins games. She throws a lot of different pitches and was 9-2 in the second half. Statistically, 14-8 doesn't sound all that great, but she got the job done. "Rachel is an entirely different pitcher and doesn't throw as hard, but hits her spots and mixes it up," she continued. "Lindsey and McClory are two kids for whom pitching is their primary job. They are four different kinds of pitchers and it will be a challenge for me to find opportunities to use them all." This season, the Jumbos are presented with a new challenge. As usual, they have one of the more difficult schedules in the region, but this year they also have to deal with the new NESCAC format. Under this new system, the NESCAC is divided into an eastern and western bracket, and the top two teams from each bracket play in the NESCAC playoffs at the end of the season to determine who advances to the NCAA Tournament. During the NESCAC playoffs, the four teams compete in a double-elimination tournament, which matches up the number one and two seeds from opposite brackets. Only one of the four teams can advance to the NCAAs, as there are no at-large berths. Tufts will be playing in the east with Bates, Bowdoin, Colby, and Trinity. "We have a very competitive schedule," Talon said. "We try to have the most competitive schedule in New England. NESCAC games are critically important. I don't know if those NESCAC teams are going to be the strongest [competition], but they will be the most important. If we don't win those games, we are not going to get to go to the tournament. We are by no means a shoo in." "It definitely makes it a lot more difficult to make the NCAAs," McArdle said. "I think the format kind of hinders a lot of good teams from making the tournament." "Obviously the new setup is not a great idea," Mackey said. "Under this format we wouldn't have made it last year. We have to go out and make the most of every NESCAC game." The Jumbos open their regular season with a trip to San Diego, CA, over spring break, where they will play a week of warm weather ball before returning to New England and kicking off their NESCAC season on March 31 against Trinity. "Position by position we have a great team," Talon said. "Whether it turns into a great season remains to be seen."


The Setonian
Softball

Softball records doubleheader shutout on Thursday

In its first games back since spring break, the softball team improved its record to 7-5 with a doubleheader sweep of Eastern Connecticut College. Behind Jodie Moreau's two-hitter, the Jumbos won the first game by a 7-0 score, before capitalizing on a ten-run fourth inning to take the finale, 12-0. "It felt great to come back from a spring training trip full of highs and lows and shut out a highly respected New England team," senior co-captain Rachel Brecher said. Moreau struck out four and walked none in the complete-game performance. She carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning - supported by six Jumbo runs in the first two innings -and managed to maintain the shutout and lowered her ERA to 3.18 on the season. Moreau's performance was nearly matched in the second game by Brecher, who pitched four scoreless innings, allowing four hits, three strikeouts, and lowering her ERA to 3.75. Freshmen Maggie McClory pitched the fifth and final inning, as the shutout victory was preserved do the eight-run rule. While pitching proved to be one of Tufts' major strengths of the day, the team's offense played an equally large - and balanced - role. With few errors committed by either team, 17 of the Jumbos' run runs on the day were earned, and everyone in the starting lineup but Moreau had at least one hit. "When we put our offense into action and make the other team work, we always do well," sophomore Nikki Blotner said. The entire team contributed to the offensive attack, but senior co-captain Randee McArdle had the most impressive day at the plate. In the second game, McArdle had a hit and scored a run in both at-bats while recording four RBI. The senior, whose bases-clearing double in the fourth capped off the ten-run inning, finished the day with three hits, three runs scored and five RBI in six at-bats. Sophomore Lis Drake also had a strong day, belting two doubles in the first game while also driving in two runs. "It gave us the confidence to do whatever we want to do," Talon said of the two wins. The squad will break into its NESCAC schedule tomorrow with a home doubleheader against Wheaton. "Every game we play is a big game. Every NESCAC game is a must win," Brecher said. Yet, Talon and her team are confident that they can take on the challenge. With a strong offense and great pitching, the Jumbos are one of the favorites to win the division. "If we do all the little things right, we have a talented team and should do well," Talon said.


The Setonian
Softball

Women's softball to host NESCAC tournament

While most students spend the week after Spring Fling cramming for exams, the women's softball team has an additional task at hand - preparing for the NESCAC playoffs. With a 7-1-0 league record, the Jumbos clinched the top seed in the NESCAC East and will host the NESCAC tournament at Spicer Field next weekend. The Jumbos clinched the Eastern title after splitting a weekend doubleheader in Maine against Bowdoin. Tufts won the first game of the twinbill 8-0 behind the strong pitching of junior Jodie Moreau, making the second game inconsequential. Still, the Jumbos nearly managed to pull out another victory in the nightcap, before falling 6-4. A win would have given the squad an unblemished NESCAC record. Joining the Jumbos in the tournament will be Bowdoin (second behind Tufts in the East), and Williams (6-0) and Amherst (6-2), who finished one-two, respectively, in the NESCAC West. Only four teams in the conference qualify for the double elimination tournament, which makes its debut on Friday. Tufts will host the two seed, Amherst, and Williams will open up against Bowdoin in the other game. Williams wrapped up the number one seed in the West after sweeping Amherst in a doubleheader on Saturday. Entering the showdown, both teams sported perfect NESCAC records. Now, Williams stands as the lone undefeated NESCAC team. Despite the strength of all three opponents, the Jumbos are confident they will be able to put together an extended playoff run. The Jumbos have a recent history of postseason success, and are the defending NCAA New England Region champions. They took part in last year's College World Series in Salem, Virginia. "I think pretty much the key is to stay strong," Moreau said. "We have come out strong against all of the opponents we have played. We saw Williams really early in season [a loss in the Spring Break trip which did not count towards the NESCAC standing] and I believe we have come a long way since then. We have a great chance of winning." Tufts earned the privilege to host the first annual NESCAC tournament on the basis of its regular season NESCAC record. The tournament site will alternate on a yearly basis between the East and the West, so next year the number one squad in the West will play host. According to Moreau, a big question for the playoffs will be how the team responds to adversity. "I think we need to stay together even if we get down," Moreau said. "Being able to come back even if we get down is key. If we get down we need to be able to get up. When we have bats going the defense flows and we need to keep it together."


The Setonian
Softball

Softball team splits two doubleheaders, now 9-9

After two road doubleheaders, the Tufts softball team's record remained at .500, as the Jumbos split at Wheaton and Trinity, bringing their record to 9-9. It was the third consecutive doubleheader that Tufts has split, as it won one of two against Bridgewater State in its last home affair.