This Week in Tufts Athletics: March 9 - 16

MEDFORD – Though it’s hard to believe two more spring teams will be in action this week while winter teams still competing are in the heart of their championship seasons.  Women’s basketball hosts sectional rounds of play at Cousens this weekend.  Men’s and women’s indoor track and field travels to North Carolina to compete in the NCAA Division III Championships.

Men’s and women’s lacrosse will both be in action this week, and both baseball and softball join in on the action, starting play on their spring break trips this weekend.

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Women’s Basketball: Friday vs. Eastern Connecticut at 7 pm

The women’s basketball team will continue it’s run in the NCAA Tournament this weekend, and they will do it at home.  The Jumbos will be hosting the Sectional rounds of play on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14.  In Friday’s third-round games, the Jumbos (28-1) will face Eastern Connecticut (22-8) and Farleigh Dickinson University-Florham (28-1) will play SUNY-Geneseo (25-4).  The winners will play in the quarterfinals on Saturday with a berth into the “Final Four” on the line.

The Jumbos hosted NCAA Regionals this past weekend, and defeated Pine Manor, 87-46, in the first round of play, and St. John Fisher, 73-67 in overtime in the second round of play.  The win over St. John Fisher granted the Jumbos to their fourth consecutive “Sweet 16” appearance.  On Friday against Pine Minor, sophomore Michela North tied a career-high with 25 points and added 13 rebounds as senior tri-captains Hayley Kanner and Kelsey Morehead each added 11 to help the Jumbos top the Gators.  Saturday’s contest was a little closer, as the Jumbos did not have a lead in regulation, but a baseline jumper by North in the final seconds put the game into overtime where the Jumbos were able to pull ahead of the Cardinals.  Morehead finished with a season-high 19 points.  

The Jumbos will now face off with Eastern Connecticut in “Sweet 16” action on Friday night.  FDU-Florham will play SUNY-Geneseo in the first game of the evening on Friday.  The Jumbos met FDU-Florham in the national semi-finals last year in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.  The Devils won 42-39 and then completed a perfect 33-0 season with an 80-72 victory over Whitman in the NCAA final.

The Jumbos took on Eastern Connecticut earlier this year, and handed the Warriors a 63-51 loss on their home court.  Kanner led the Jumbos with 20 points and eight rebounds and Morehead scored 13.  The Warriors are 22-8 this year, and in addition to their loss to the Jumbos have also fallen to NESCAC rivals Amherst and Williams. Jill Ritrosky is leading the offensive efforts with 12.7 points per game and Shannon McCourt is helping with 10.4 points per game.  Ritrosky is also averaging 10 rebounds per game.

The Warriors traveled to Scranton last weekend and defeated the hosts (50-48) in the first round and then Baruch, 71-62, in the second round.  They are making their 14th tournament appearance.  Dating back to 1999, the Jumbos hold the advantage in the series, 2-1.  Prior to this year's scheduled game, the Jumbos and the Warriors had only faced off in tip-off tournaments.

Men’s Indoor Track and Field: at NCAA Division III Championships

The Tufts men’s indoor track and field team will compete in two events at the 2015 NCAA Division III Championships this Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14 at the JDL Fast Track in Winston Salem, North Carolina.  Juniors Veer Bhalla, Mitchell Black, Francis Goins and Alex Kasemir along with freshman Andrew DiMaiti will make the trip.  Black and Bhalla qualified for the 800 meter race.  DiMaiti, Kasemir, Black and Goins will compete in the 4x400-meter relay.

Black enters the meet ranked #1 in the 800 meters.  He became the fourth runner in DIII history to run a sub-1:50 in the event, timing a 1:49.16 at Boston University’s David Hemery Valentine Invite on February 13.  The time was converted to a 1:50.72 due to the banked track at BU.

A five-time All-American indoors and outdoors, Black will be running for a national title at NCAA’s.  He was third in the 800 indoors last season (1:52.17) and was the national runner-up outdoors last spring (1:51.30).  He also has a pair of relay All-American honors indoors, and another outdoor 800 All-American award.  This is the fifth straight national championship for which Black has qualified since starting his Tufts career.  

Bhalla will join Black in the 800, which has preliminaries on Friday at 4:20 pm and the final on Saturday at 3:55 pm.  The two were in the 800 together last March with Bhalla adding an eighth-place mark for All-American (1:53.76).  He qualified seventh this season with a 1:53.01 time from the Last Chance Meet at home on Friday.  This is his second NCAA meet overall.  

Kasemir, Black and Goins were part of the Tufts 4x4 which ran sixth at last year’s NCAA Indoor Championships.  Their 3:15.51 time earned All-American honors for each of them.  This year, freshman Andrew DiMaiti replaced the graduated Graham Beutler in the line-up.  The 2015 foursome’s 3:15.34 school-record time (3:18.47 converted) qualified eighth.  The 4x4 is a straight final at Nationals which goes off as the last event of the meet at 5:20 pm on Saturday.

Women’s Indoor Track and Field: at NCAA Division III Championships

Five members of the Tufts women’s indoor track and field team will vie for the first All-American honors of their careers this weekend at the 2015 NCAA Division III Championships to be held at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14.

Qualifying for competition are junior Marilyn Allen in the 60-meter hurdles as well as junior Sydney Smith, sophomore Rita Donahoe, senior Lauren Gormer and sophomore Kelly Fahey in the distance medley relay (DMR).  Fahey will also run in the 3,000 meters.  Only Allen has competed at the NCAA Track meet previously.  As a first-year in 2013, she qualified for the 100-meter hurdles outdoors.

The DMR enters the meet with the nation’s seventh-fastest time, an 11:53.38 that they ran on Friday at the Last Chance Meet hosted by Tufts.  They will run in a straight final at the NCAA meet on Friday at 6:10 pm.  The DMR will start with Smith in the 1,200 leg, where she ran 3:34 on Friday.  Donohoe will handle the 400 and Gormer the 800.  Fahey anchors in the 1,600 which she ran in 5:00.6 on Friday.  Both Smith and Fahey were about three seconds faster than their legs on the Tufts’ flat track than they were on Boston University’s banked track a week ago when the foursome posted an 11:53.98 finish.

Allen qualified 13th in the hurdles, recording a school-record time of 8.90 seconds three times during the season.  Most recently she hit the mark at the Tufts Last Chance meet.  She will run in the in the NCAA preliminaries on Friday at 2:10 pm.  If she reaches the final, it goes off Saturday at 2:05 pm.

Fahey is the #16 seed in the 3,000 meters with a 9:56.77 that she ran at Boston University’s David Hemery Valentine Invitational on February 13.  The time was converted to a 10:01.91 due to the banked track at BU.  The 3k at the NCAAs is a straight final scheduled for 4:25 on Saturday.  Fahey was an All-American during the cross country season, placing 31st at the NCAA race.

Men’s Lacrosse: Saturday at Colby at 1 pm

After a week off from conference play, the men’s lacrosse team will return back to conference action this weekend with a Saturday, March 14 contest at Colby.  The Jumbos picked up two non-conference wins this week, topping Keene State and Stevens.

On Tuesday, the Jumbos scored nine goals in the fourth period to turn a two-goal deficit late in the third quarter into a 22-16 win over Keene State.  Junior John Uppgren scored five goals to lead the Jumbos in the fourth quarter, and finished with seven goals and four assists for 11 points overall.  Junior Conor Helfrich won a remarkable 35 of 40 face-offs in the game. In net for the Jumbos junior Alex Salazar picked up the win with 16 saves.  On Saturday, the Jumbos traveled down to Stevens to take on the Ducks.  The Jumbos bolted to a 7-1 lead in the first quarter and never looked back while posted a 19-10 victory.  Once again Uppgren had a big day for the Jumbos, finishing with five goals and four assists.  The returning national scoring leader now has 16 goals and 10 assists for 26 points. Salazar had a great game for the Jumbos, making 18 saves in 49 minutes.  Senior Brian Droesch (five saves) and sophomore Jon Conley (two saves) also saw time as the Jumbo goalies stopped 25 shots overall.  Uppgren was awarded NESCAC Player of the Week honors for his performance over the two games. 

Things will be relatively quiet for the Jumbos this week, who have a Saturday, March 14 contest at Colby being the only thing on the schedule this week.  The White Mules won their season opener, 9-7, over Trinity but then fell at Hamilton this past weekend, 12-10.  The Mules return sophomore Austin Sayre, who was the conference’s Rookie of the Year last season, scoring 36 times and leading the Mules with 47 points. Senior Derek Youngman earned NESCAC Player of the Week honors last week for his five goals, including four in the second half, to help the Mules come from behind to beat Trinity.  Youngman has six goals this season, and senior John Grimaldi has scored five times in two games.  The Jumbos won when the two teams faced off last year, 20-8, in the regular season, and then 24-9 in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament.  The last White Mule win came back in 2006.

Women’s Lacrosse: Monday vs. Wheaton at 3 pm, Wednesday vs. Keene State at 7 pm, Saturday vs. Colby at 2 pm

The women’s lacrosse team played their home opener last week, and they opened up in front of Jumbo fans with a big win.  They will now continue a home stretch this week, as three different teams pay a visit to Medford to challenge the Jumbos.  The Jumbos start off their home slate with a 3:00 pm contest with Wheaton on Monday, March 9.  With little time off, the Jumbos will take Bello on Wednesday, March 11 to take on Keene State at 7:00 pm.  The Jumbos wrap up their week on Saturday, March 14 when they host NESCAC-rival Colby at 2:00 pm.

On Wednesday, in the Jumbos home opener on Bello field, seven different Jumbos scored in an 18-5 win over Endicott.  Sophomore Kate Mackin led the Jumbos scoring effort with six tallies, while junior Caroline Ross added four goals and first-year Calie Nowak scored three of her own.  Rookie Hannah Wiltshire made five saves in net to pick up the first win of her career.

First up for the Jumbos this week, will be Wheaton on Monday afternoon.  The Lyons are 2-1 this season with wins over Gordon and Salve Regina to open up their season, and most recently a 8-7 loss to Wesleyan.  Junior Brooke Sabol is leading the offense with nine goals, with classmate Madison Cohen scoring six times this year and senior Melanie Sharick and junior Jenna Tewksbury each adding five scores. Senior Katy Ananian has started all three games in goal for the Lyons, with a 5.48 goals against average and a 57.6 save percentage.  The Jumbos won, 15-7, last year when the two teams faced off, and also hold the advantage in the series, 9-0, dating back to 1999.

After the contest with the Lyons, the Jumbos will turn their focus to Keene State, who pays a visit to Bello for a 7:00 pm contest on Wednesday.  The Owls have had a bit of a tough start to their season, dropping games to MIT (12-9) and Roger Williams (18-11).  The Owls finished last season 13-5 and earned the top seed in the Little East Conference Tournament, but were upset in the championship game by Plymouth State. Junior Kaitlin Nolan has scored seven times in two games so far this year, but is the only Owl to have scored more than two times.  Sophomore Alison Argiro has started both games in goal for the Owls, and is stepping in to fill in for graduated senior Erin Taylor who started most of the games for the Owls last season.  The Jumbos beat the Owls last season, 12-5, but that was the first time the two teams had played in program history, dating back to 1999.

The Jumbos will wrap up their week getting back to their NESCAC schedule, with the White Mules of Colby traveling to Medford on Saturday. The Mules opened up their season by upsetting second ranked Trinity 11-10.  Since then, they have fallen to Hamilton (10-9), but then shut out Husson 16-0.  Senior Abby Hatch was awarded NESCAC Player of the Week honors last week for her hand in the upset of Trinity as she turned in three goals, including the game tying and game winning goals, and three assists.  

The Mules lost last year’s NESCAC Player of the Year, Katharine Eddy, to graduation, and classmate Lindsey McKenna also was a first team selection and graduated after last season.  The Mules have been looking to Hatch to fill that void in their offensive attack, as she has six goals and four assists so far this year.  Helping that offense is also junior Dana Swaffield and sophomore Lexie Perticone, who have both scored five times.  Senior Claire Dickinson has started all three games in goal for the Mules and currently owns an 8.60 goals against average.  The Jumbos topped the Mules, 16-14, when the two teams faced off last season, but it’s the White Mules that hold the advantage in the series, 11-7, dating back to 1999.

Baseball: Friday vs. Castleton at 5 pm, Saturday vs. Castleton at 10 am and St. Vincent at 4 pm, Sunday at Apprentice at 12 pm

The Tufts University baseball team will begin their 2015 campaign this weekend, traveling south and beginning a 12 game spring break trip on Friday, March 13.  The Jumbos will open on Friday with a 5:00 pm contest against Castleton at the Apprentice School.  On Saturday, March 14 the Jumbos take on Castleton again at 10:00 am and follow that with a 4:00 pm contest against St. Vincent.  On Sunday, March 15 Apprentice will host the Jumbos for a first pitch at 12:00 pm.

The Jumbos have a good core of returning veterans to lead the charge this season.  Senior pitcher Kyle Slinger returns and has been voted a preseason First Team All-American.  Slinger had a 9-0 record last season, with a 1.18 ERA and 73 strikeouts in 76 innings of work.  He was an All-NESCAC First Team selection in addition to earning NESCAC Pitcher of the Year honors last spring.  Joining Slinger returning this year is classmate Connor McDavitt, junior Matt Moser and sophomore Tim Superko.  McDavvitt was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year, hitting .345 with 14 doubles and a .990 fielding percentage. Moser was a All-NESCAC First Team selection with a .299 batting average and leading the Jumbos in RBI’s with 38. Superko earned NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors last season, with a rookie campaign record of 4-2, an ERA of 2.64 and 51 strikeouts in 58 innings of work for the Jumbos.  

The Jumbos graduated Nick Cutsumpas, who was an All-NESCAC First Team catcher last spring, Christian Sbily, an All-NESCAC Second Team pitcher and co-captain Wade Hauser, who hit .289 with 37 RBI’s and 14 doubles last spring.  The Jumbos were 34-9 last season, and hosted the NESCAC tournament but fell to Wesleyan in the championship game.  After an at-large bid into the NCAA tournament the Jumbos won their opening game of the New England Regional, but ended up falling to Southern Maine and MIT in regional play.  In the most recent national poll the Jumbos were #25.

Castleton State opened their 2015 campaign in the middle February with a weekend trip to Texas.  The Spartans lost to LeTourneau twice, but beat Dallas and Austin and currently have a 2-2 record this season.  Returning for the Spartans this season is junior Dan Errico who hit .321 last season with 14 doubles and a team-leading four homeruns.  Seniors Joe Borowski (.345 BA) and Matt McNamee (.315 BA) graduated and were amongst the Spartans top hitters last season.  On the mound, junior Samuel Spencer started nine games last year and worked to a 3.05 ERA and sophomore Steven Jurkiewicz got the nod in eight games compiling a 4.60 ERA.

Also on the docket for the weekend is St. Vincent, who played to an 18-21 record last season, is off to a 4-3 start this season with wins over Gwynedd-Mercy, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Clark and SUNY-Oneonta. Freshman Eddie Kilkeary is hitting .688 so far this year with 11 hits in 16 at bats and a 1.625 slugging percentage.  Senior John Malone is just behind him with a .583 average.  Junior Michael Patsch has started two games for the Bearcats and has an 1.59 ERA in 11.1 innings of work.  

On Sunday the Jumbos will take on Apprentice at noon.  The Builders are 6-3 so far this season, and should have more games under their belt, but their 2015 Builder Invitational the scheduled for the last weekend in February was cancelled.  Junior Mark Labrador is hitting .593 in eight games with two doubles and two triples.  Senior Ryan Hendrickson has started seven games, and is hitting .480, while classmate Lee Rossi has started all nine games, has a .433 batting average and a team-high 17 RBI’s. On the mound rookie Jonathan Long has started two games and thrown 11.0 innings with an 0.82 ERA while classmate Mike Brumfield has worked 14.1 innings in two starts with a 2.51 ERA.

Softball: Saturday vs. Wittenberg at 1 pm and University of New England, Sunday vs. Western Connecticut at 9 am and Keene State at 11 am

The women’s softball team will open their season in Florida this weekend, with 14 games on the schedule for the week in the sunshine state.  The Jumbos, who have won back-to-back National Championships were ranked #1 in the most recent National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s (NFCA) national poll.  On the docket for the Jumbos this weekend will be contests against Wittenberg at 1:00 pm and University of New England at 3:00 pm on Saturday, March 14.  On Sunday, March 15 the Jumbos have a 9:00 am game with Western Connecticut State and an 11:00 am contest with Keene State.  

The Jumbos return senior Allyson Fournier, a three time First Team All-American, in the circle.  Fournier led the nation in earned run average (0.49) and hits allowed per seven innings (2.63) last season, three solo no-hitters, a combined no-hitter, 12 solo shutouts and three combined shutouts.  She had a 28-1 record last year, was named the NESCAC Pitcher of the year for the third straight season.  Also joining Fournier back on the Jumbos squad this year are 2014 NESCAC First Team selection in sophomore Cassie Ruscz and Second Team selection senior Gracie Marshall. Junior Christina Raso was the conference’s Defensive Player of the Year last season.  

The Jumbos will be looking to fill the shoes of five graduated seniors, most notably Jo Clair, Lauren Giglio and Sara Hedtler, who were all First Team All-NESCAC selections for the Jumbos last year.  Clair established herself as arguably the best hitter in Tufts history, as she holds the program’s all-time records in home runs, RBI, runs scored and total bases.  Giglio posted a 15-1 record in the circle last season, with a 1.25 ERA and 132 strike outs in 112 innings of work.  Hedlter, who holds the program’s at bats record, hit .330 in her senior campaign.  

First up for the Jumbos this week will be Wittenberg.  The Tigers were 24-11 last season, getting edged by DePauw in the North Coast Athletic Conference tournament championship game.  Seven players who started at least 17 games in 2014 return for the Tigers, including their top two hitters in junior Loren Combs and sophomore Abby Barker, both of whom earned conference honors and hit above .400 last year.

After the game against Wittenberg, the Jumbos will face University of New England.  The Nor’Easters were 23-17 last season, but lost the first two games of their conference tournament to end their season.  Graduated senior Amanda Vaudreiul hit .500 last season with 18 doubles and six home runs.  Filling those shoes this year will be senior Adrienne Chase, who hit .420 last season, and Sydney Helmbrecht, who turned in a .387 batting average last spring. In the circle, junior Abby Lambert, sophomore Katelyn Austin and junior Lauren Doneski all split time and compiled a 3.60 staff ERA.

On Sunday, the Jumbos face off with Western Connecticut State, who started the season ranked in the NFCA poll, but has since dropped out, and Keene State.  Both Western and Keene play in the Little East Conference.  The Owls of Keene State were voted by the league’s head coaches to finish first in the conference standings this season, with Western getting enough votes for third place.  The Owls have a new head coach, but return 10 starters, including junior Mariah Crisp who led the conference with 225 strikeouts last season.  The Owls were 19-19 last season.  Western Connecticut is coming off a season in which they went 31-14-1 and fell to Wellesley in the NCAA Regionals.  Biggest returners for the Colonials are juniors Erin Weber (.336 BA) and Michaela Roche (.333 BA, 5 HR).  Juniors Emily Cintorino and Alle Sabith split time in the circle last year, and return this season for their junior campaign.