Tufts Stays Alive at NCAA Softball Championship with 4-0 Victory Over Texas-Tyler
Courtesy Tufts Sports Information
MONTCLAIR, N.J. - Making a name for themselves and the New England Region at the 2009 NCAA Softball Championships, the Tufts University Jumbos are now one of the final four teams playing after a solid 4-0 victory over the University of Texas at Tyler in an elimination game at Montclair State University on Sunday afternoon.
The Jumbos (44-2) will get right back at it on Sunday night at 7:30 pm in another elimination game against Gustavus Adolphus. The winner will move on to the loser's bracket final to be played on Monday at noon. Texas-Tyler finished its season with a 39-10 record.
The Jumbos defeated UT Tyler at
their own game on Sunday. Tufts hit two home runs against the
Patriots, who entered the weekend ranked first in the NCAA
statistics with 53 home runs this season. Tufts sophomore Izzie
Santone (Madison, Conn.) blanked the powerful Patriots on four hits
and has not allowed an earned run in two complete-game victories at
the NCAA Championships.
Playing as the home team, UT Tyler got a two-out double down the left field line by first-year Ashley Klores in the first. Sophomore RF Whitney Wyly, the NCAA leader in RBI per game at 1.64, walked, but Santone struck out senior 1B Kate Bell to end the inning.
Tufts got on the board in the top of the second. Senior RF Maya Ripecky (Chicago, Ill.), who had two hits in the game and leads the Jumbos with four for the weekend, singled to lead off. With one out, junior shortstop Casey Sullivan (Berlin, Conn.) hit a home over the eight-foot fence in center field and the Jumbos lead 2-0.
A Tufts error, their first of the Championships, did not come back to haunt them in the third. Moving to the fourth, Ripecky was again on base with a single when first-year 1B Lena Cantone (Southington, Conn.) blasted a home run down the right field line to put Tufts up 4-0. The Jumbos had runners on second and third with two outs later in the inning, but could not add on to their lead.
Santone and the Tufts defense, meanwhile, were negating Patriot base runners effectively. In the bottom of the fourth, Tufts had a Sullivan to Danielle Lopez (Danvers, Mass.) to Cantone double play after a lead-off walk to Wyly. Following a lead-off single by junior SS Amanda Busby in the fifth, Santone retired the next three hitters in a row. In the sixth, Wyly was on again with a one-out single, but a double play grounder from senior 3B Samantha Kuhles (Somerville, N.J.) to Lopez to Cantone ended the inning.
Singles by Jumbos Alison Drobiarz (Old Saybrook, Conn.) and Cara Hovhanessian (Farmington, Conn.) did not amount to a run in the Tufts fifth, and they went down 1-2-3 in the sixth and seventh off Patriot reliever Lauren Scruggs. However, Santone, who allowed just two Patriots to reach second base in the game, rolled to her shutout victory with a
1-2-3 seventh. She improved to 21-1 on the season, finishing with two walks and a strike out.
Tufts, who on Friday became the first New England region team to win a game at the NCAA Championships since 2004 with their 3-1 final against Cortland State, tripled the total of New England region wins at the Championships this decade with the win over UT Tyler. The Jumbos lost a tight 1-0 game to Coe College on Saturday afternoon.
Tufts coach Cheryl Milligan altered the batting order against UT Tyler and it paid dividends with a nine-hit attack. Drobiarz, making her first start of the weekend, joined Sullivan and Ripecky with two hits.
"Our bats came alive," Milligan said. "We felt like we really didn't do our job at the plate last night (against Coe), and we knew we could do better. Last night, we talked about being a little bit tight, but today we swung a lot better than we did yesterday. A lot more like we are capable of doing. That's the kind of power we have. We didn't have as many base hits as we are used to getting, but we swung the bats better in key situations."
The Tufts defense, which is fielding .990 in three games at the Championships, has really turned heads.
"Our defense was great (today)," Santone said. "There was one inning where I walked the first batter, and 90 percent of the time that you walk the leadoff hitter, that runner scores. As a pitcher, it is great to know that if you give up a hard ground ball up the middle, your defense can turn it into a double play. It really helps you as a pitcher. It's great to know that little mistakes like that can be covered by your defense."