WILLIAMSTOWN - Senior pitcher Lauren Giglio went the distance for her 13th victory and junior CF Michelle Cooprider had three hits and four rbis as the #1 ranked Tufts softball team opened its defense of the NCAA title with a 9-1 victory in six innings against Lesley University on Friday afternoon.
Tufts, playing in an NCAA Regional at Williams College, improved to 38-3 and will face the Williams-Endicott winner tomorrow at 11 am. Lesley (20-14) falls into the loser's bracket and will play an elimination game tomorrow at 1:30 pm.
This was a close game until the sixth inning. Tufts was leading 2-1 when they scored seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to end the game by mercy rule.
Giglio allowed just three hits and an unearned run in six innings for Tufts. She walked three, but did not allow a runner to second base through the first five innings.
NESCAC Player of the Year jo Clair homered in the first inning, her 19th of the season, to put Tufts up 1-0. The Jumbos would add to their lead in the third as junior 3B Bri Keenan led off with a double. She scored on Cooprider's single to center.
Lesley first-year pitcher Alyson Nisbet kept her team within reach, and the Lynx pulled within 2-1 in the top of the sixth. With one out, junior RF Jodee Doka reached on an error and sophomore LF Angela Mukai followed with a double to center. A sac fly by sophomore 1B Jess Reynolds scored the run. With Mukai on third, Giglio fielded a grounder back at her for the third out to prevent Lesley from tying the game.
The Jumbos broke it open in the bottom of the inning. First-year 1B Summer Horowitz and Keenan both singled home runs and scored in the inning, while sophomore SS Christina Raso hit an rbi double and scored. Cooprider ended the game with a three-run home run, her second of the year.
Keenan joined Cooprider in leading the Jumbos offensively, going 2 for 3 with two runs and two rbis. Clair scored twice.
Senior catcher Allison Fountain had two of the Lynx's three hits from the top spot of the order. Nisbet went 5.1 innings allowing eight hits and nine runs (eight earned) for the loss.