WELLESLEY, Mass. – It did not take long for the Tufts University softball team to avenge its 9-4 opening-game loss against Babson on Tuesday, as the Jumbos exploded for five first-inning runs in Game 2 during an 8-0 triumph over the Beavers in Wellesley, Massachusetts.
|Gillian O'Connor improved to 5-1 on the mound for the Jumbos.|
Senior captain Cassie Ruscz continues to see the ball well in the batter's box for the Jumbos (14-6, 4-0 in NESCAC), as she opened the scoring with a three-run blast to left field in the first, plating junior second baseman Samantha Siciliano (2-for-3, double, single, two runs scored) and junior right fielder Raven Fournier. Ruscz has belted a team-leading six homers, which is tied for first in the NESCAC Conference with junior Lexi Curt of Williams. Siciliano led off the frame with her eighth double of the season, as the mark is tied for the second most in the conference.
Junior catcher Sarah Finnigan drove a one-out RBI single through the left side, and then senior Summer Horowitz recorded a two-out single down the right-field line, plating Finnigan from second, as the Jumbos raced out to a five-run advantage.
The five runs were more than enough the way freshman pitcher Gillian O'Connor (5-1) has been throwing this season. She earned the win with a four-inning effort, giving up only five hits and striking out a pair of batters. The Montgomery, New Jersey, native has worked 34 innings this season and boasts a 1.85 ERA, which ranks No. 3 in the NESCAC.
Fournier extended the Jumbos lead to 7-0 in the second with a two-run shot to right field, which was her third homer of the season. Senior left fielder Shelby Lipson (2-for-3, double, single, RBI) ended the scoring with an RBI double to left-center in the third.
Freshman Kayla Schinik went 2-for-2, with two singles, for the Beavers (15-9, 6-4 in NEWMAC). Freshman Brooke Stock was tagged with the loss for the hosts, giving up 10 hits and eight runs, with six being earned, during five innings of work. She struck out four batters and walked two.
During the first game on Tuesday afternoon, the Beavers utilized a six-run performance during the third frame to take the lead for good during a 9-4 triumph over the Jumbos.
The Jumbos held a 3-0 advantage entering the bottom of the third, but sophomore Josephine Mares put the hosts on the board, driving an RBI single to left field, scoring freshman Annie Mitchell (leadoff walk) from third base. Sophomore Ashley Tango showed patience at the plate with one out and the bases load, drawing an RBI walk, as freshman Tori Roche (2-for-3, two singles, RBI), who reached on an error, trotted across home.
Jumbos freshman pitcher Allison Tilton forced the next hitter, junior Samantha Smith, to hit a ground ball, as freshman third baseman Jamie Stevens (2-for-3, two singles, run scored) threw the ball to Fournier, resulting in a force out at home, as the Jumbos maintained their 3-2 advantage.
Senior Meaghan Merullo (2-for-4, two singles, two RBIs, run scored) was next on the lineup card and she stepped up in a high-pressure spot in the ballgame, belting the game-winning two-run single to right-center, which gave the hosts the lead for the first time at 4-3.
The Jumbos proceeded to make a pitching change with runners on the corners and two down, turning to junior pitcher Raina Galbiati. Freshman Jacqueline Paul (2-for-3, two singles, RBI) and Mitchell kept the rally going, clocking back-to-back RBI singles and building a three-run cushion. The Beavers totaled six runs and five hits in the frame, while the Jumbos were charged with a pair of errors.
Junior pitcher Ali Reilly (7-4) was exceptional on the mound for Babson, especially as she started to settle in during the later innings. She earned a complete-game win, striking out eight batters and giving up eight hits and four runs, with three being earned. Reilly's mental strength was on display, as she gave up three runs in the second, but then only let up one run the rest of the way. She retired 12 consecutive batters, ranging from the second to the fifth.
The Jumbos quickly loaded the bases in the second with no outs, behind singles by Stevens and freshman left fielder Emily Serata, and Horowitz was hit by a pitch. Next up was junior shortstop Sara Willner-Giwerc, and the result was a two-run single down the left-field line. Senior right fielder Maggie Hoffman was responsible for the third run with a sacrifice fly.
The hosts extended their lead to 7-3 in the fifth. The Jumbos posted a tally in the sixth, but the Beavers put a cap on the game with two runs in the bottom of the frame.
Tilton (3-5) was tagged with the loss for the Jumbos, working 2 2/3 innings and giving up three hits and three walks. Six runs were scored by runners that she was responsible for, but only one was earned.
The Jumbos will be back in action on Friday with a 4 p.m. tilt against NESCAC Conference East Division rival Trinity (Conn.) in Hartford, Connecticut.
Written by Trevor Wenners, Athletic Communications Intern