Tufts cruises past Texas-Tyler in first round of national championship
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- Sophomore Allyson Fournier pitched six shutout innings and sophomore Gracie Marshall had three RBIs as Tufts opened play at the NCAA championship finals with a 6-0 victory against Texas-Tyler on Friday at Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Gelein Field.
The Jumbos (43-3) advanced to play Montclair State on Saturday, while Texas-Tyler (45-5) will play Central (Iowa) in an elimination game.
Fournier did not allow a Patriot baserunner to reach second base in her six innings of work. She gave up singles in the first, second, third and fifth innings, but none advanced. She improved to 22-1 while striking out eight with no walks. Senior pitcher Rebecca DiBiase finished up for Tufts with one scoreless inning.
After a 1-2-3 first inning against UT Tyler's first-year pitcher Kelsie Batten in the first, the Jumbos scored an unearned run in the second. Senior Emily Beinecke reached on an error and sophomore Kris Parr was hit by a pitch. Beinecke took third on sophomore Michelle Cooprider's line out to center and then scored on Marshall's ground out.
The Jumbos scored in four consecutive innings in the middle of the game. Freshman Christina Raso singled to lead off the third, was sacrificed to second by junior Sara Hedtler and scored on a double to left-center by sophomore Bri Keenan, making it 2-0 Tufts.
Two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings gave Tufts a healthy 6-0 advantage. Cooprider led off the fourth with a single up the middle and Marshall followed with a walk. After freshman Abby Curran sacrificed both over, Raso squeeze bunted home Cooprider and Hedlter's ground ball to short plate Marshall for a 4-0 lead.
With the bases loaded in the fifth, Marshall broke the game open (6-0) with a two-run single. The Jumbos had chances to add to the margin in the fifth and sixth innings, but left five runners on base.
Tufts scored their six runs on just five hits, taking advantage of five walks, a hit-by-pitch and three errors by UT-Tyler. No one in the Tufts line-up had more than one hit. Beinecke scored twice.
Patriots freshman Vanessa Carrizales was 2-for-3. Batten, a second-team All-American, took the loss. She allowed six runs (five earned) and four hits with three walks in four innings. Senior Heather Abshire, also a second-team All-American, pitched two innings of one-hit, no-run relief for UT-Tyler.
The game was played in a light rain. Tufts left 10 runners on base, while the Patriots stranded six. The shutout was the 17th of the season for Tufts' pitching.
The Jumbos won their NCAA finals opener for the second time in their four trips to the event. The 2009 team had a 3-1 victory against Cortland State on the first day of the finals. Tufts is now 4-6 overall at the NCAA finals, 8-0 in the 2013 postseason and 34-24 in NCAA tournament play overall in 13 berths.