MEDFORD - Senior CF Michelle Cooprider went 4 for 4 with four runs scored and two rbis as the top-ranked Tufts Softball team earned an 8-0 five-inning victory over WPI in game one of the NCAA Championship Super Regionals Thursday at Spicer Field.
Senior Allyson Fournier pitched a three-hit shutout for the Jumbos, who are now one win away from making their fourth straight trip to the NCAA Finals. Tufts and WPI play game two of the Super Regional tomorrow at 1 pm. The Engineers need to win in order to force a winner-takes-all game three at 3:30.
Cooprider set the tone for her day by homering to left field leading off the bottom of the first for Tufts. The Jumbos would also add an unearned run in the first powered by singles from junior SS Christina Raso and senior LF Gracie Marshall.
Fournier struck out four of the first five batters she faced before Engineers sophomore SS Hope Shevchuk single to right with two outs in the second. The Tufts ace recorded her fifth strike out to end the inning.
In the bottom of the second, Cooprider scored the third Tufts run after her single to center. She came around on Raso's base hit.
Speedy lead-off hitter Nina Murphy-Cook was the first Engineer in scoring position after she singled up the middle and stole second with two outs in the top of the third. First-year CF Ama Biney followed with a line drive, but it was right at Tufts sophomore RF Carrie Copacino for the third out.
A double by sophomore 3B Kristin Gallagher to lead off the WPI fourth was the best threat by the visitors. She was sacrificed to third by senior 1B Katie Bumila, but Fournier left her there with a strikeout and ground out.
The Jumbos would sew the game up with eight of their 13 hits in the fourth and fifth innings. Cooprider led off the fourth with a single, ending the day for WPI starter Clare Doolin. Cooprider stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Copacino off reliever Caroline Medino making it 4-0.
In the fifth, two WPI errors and five Tufts hits ended the game by the mercy rule after four Jumbo runs scored. Cooprider singled home a run and scored to complete her outstanding day. Raso added her second rbi of the game on a single. Tufts sophomore 1B Cassie Ruscz had an rbi single and Tufts scored its eighth run when the ball was misplayed in the outfield.
Fournier improved to 29-0 with the win, striking out 11 along the way. Raso was 3 for 4 and Ruscz was 2 for 4.
Doolin took the loss (17-4) for WPI going three innings and allowing six hits and four runs (three earned) with a strikeout and two walks.
The Jumbos extended their NCAA Division III record winning streak to 47 games while improving to 45-0 this season. WPI dropped to 34-10.