MANSFIELD, Conn. — Tufts won its third NCAA regional title, and will play at the NCAA finals later this week in Salem, Va., after defeating host Eastern Connecticut 6-0 in the regional championship game on Sunday.
First-year pitcher Allyson Fournier spun a two-hit shutout to lead the second-seed Jumbos against top-seed Eastern Connecticut State. The Jumbos will head to Salem, Virginia for a game against the champion of the Newport News regional on Friday (May 18).
Fournier did not allow an earned run in 28 innings in the four-day competition and was named the regional tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for her efforts.
After a pair of scoreless frames, back-to-back run-producing singles by All-Tournament Team selections senior Lena Cantone and sophomore Jo Clair gave the Jumbos a 2-0 advantage in the third inning.
Tufts increased its lead with an RBI double to left center off the bat of senior Mira Lieman-Sifry in the fourth. An inning later, junior Emily Beinecke drove in a run on a base hit to center for the Jumbos. Cantone sent the ball to left field to help plate the final run of the regional portion of the tournament in the sixth.
Fournier’s no-hit bid was broken up by a flair to center field by junior Kelly Paterson in the bottom of the sixth inning. Eastern Connecticut junior Arielle Cooper recorded the only other hit for the Warriors as she led off the seventh with a base hit to left.
Tufts sophomore Kayla Holland and Clair each batted 2 for 3 while Cantone was 3 for 4 on the day. Sophomore Sara Hedtler rounded out the Jumbos All-Tournament team selections with a 2 for 4 outing.
For the contest, Fournier struck out eight and issued one free pass on her way to a 22-1 record. Senior Molly Rathbun surrendered three runs — two earned — on seven hits while fanning five batters as she was saddled with the loss and completes her final season with a 33-3 ledger.
In addition to Fournier, Tufts hit .361 while going 4-0 at the Regional, led by a scorching-hot Cantone who hit .571 (8/14) with two doubles, a triple and six rbis. Clair hit .462 (6-13) during the weekend with three doubles, a home run and six rbis. Hedtler had six hits (.375) and scored four runs.
This will be the program’s second trip to Salem, Va. The 2000 Jumbos, on which current head coach Cheryl Milligan was an assistant, played there for the NCAA finals and went 0-2. The 2009 Tufts team which won its first 35 games played in the finals at Monclair, New Jersey and went 2-2 for fourth place.
Roanoke and Christopher Newport are playing for the Newport News regional championship on Monday. The Jumbos await the winner.