MEDFORD – The Tufts University softball team won its 11th NESCAC Championship with a 3-2 victory over Williams College in the conference final Sunday morning at Spicer Field.
The Jumbos, who scored all off their runs and had all of their hits (two) during the first inning, receive the NESCASC's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. Williams (33-5), who had the tying run on second base with one out in the top of the seventh, will await a likely at-large NCAA berth.
A Williams outfield error on a fly ball by Jumbo sophomore 2B Emma Della Volpe got things started for Tufts in the first. When Jumbo sophomore SS Mia Steinberg hit a ground ball to third, the Ephs tried to make a play on Della Volpe advancing but she was safe. Senior RF Kristen Caporelli plated Della Volpe with a ground ball to short for the first run. Doubles by junior 1B Casey Maggiore and junior 3B Jamie Stevens scored Caporelli and Maggiore, respectively, and quickly it was 3-0.
Tufts sophomore starter Kristi Van Meter retired the first eight batters she faced before Eph senior CF Kristina Alvarado doubled to center. Senior SS Jessica Kim followed with another double down the left-field line scoring Alvarado for the Ephs' first run.
Williams senior starter Mackenzie Murphy was perfect after the first inning, retiring all 15 batters she faced from the second through sixth innings.
The Ephs got a runner to third with one out in the top of the fourth after freshman DP Mara Kipnis led off a single. However, Van Meter retired the next two batters on a foul out and a fly ball to end the inning. Then in the fifth, a pair of Tufts errors helped the Ephs put runners on second and third with two outs. Van Meter again got the final out on a pop-up. Williams then put two more runners on in the sixth and Van Meter squelched it with a strike out. The Ephs left eight on overall.
Williams did capitalize on a rally in the seventh and put the tying run in scoring position. Alvarado led it off with a single to left. Kim followed with a double scoring Alvarado making it a one-run game (3-2). However, with Kim representing the tying run on second, Van Meter got the next three outs to secure the championship for the Jumbos. A pop-up to Della Volpe at second ended it.
Van Meter allowed seven hits and two runs with six strikeouts and a walk while earning her 13th win. The victory was Tufts' 30th of the season as they improved to 30-8.
Kim had two hits and two rbis for Williams, while Alvarado finished with two hits and two runs. None of the three runs Murphy allowed were earned and she struck out four in her six innings.
With today's win, first-year head coach Lauren Ebstein's Jumbos ended the Ephs' three-year run as conference champions. Today marked the eighth time Tufts and Williams have played for the conference championship with the Jumbos winning five. The Ephs are the #2 ranked team in this week's National Fast-pitch Coaches Association Division III national poll. Tufts is not revceiving any votes in that poll.
Watch the final out of the game ...