Tufts advances to championship game with shutout win against Cortland State
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. -- Tufts will play for the 2013 NCAA title on Monday after defeating Cortland State 6-0 in Game 11 of the NCAA Championship Finals at Wisconsin-Eau Claire's Gelein Park Sunday night.
Cortland State, Salisbury and Texas-Tyler will vie for the spot opposite Tufts in the final round during earlier elimination games on Monday. Any one of those squads will have to defeat Tufts twice to win the title, with an if necessary game to be played on Tuesday.
The Tufts versus Cortland (34-16) game Sunday night featured the two teams which advanced through the first two days of the tournament with 2-0 records. Sophomore pitcher Allyson Fournier gave Tufts the upper hand by hurling a five-hit shutout for the victory.
Six Jumbos were actively involved in the offense as Tufts finished with nine hits against Cortland junior pitcher Amber Corrigan. Junior Sara Hedtler was 2-for-3 with a run atop the batting order. Junior All-American catcher Jo Clair finished 2-for-3 with two runs. Senior Emily Beinecke scored twice while going 1-for-3. Sophomore Michelle Cooprider had her best game of the weekend at 2-for-2 with a run and RBI. Sophomore Gracie Marshall drove in two more runs, while sophomore Kris Parr also had two RBIs.
Fournier, now 3-0 at the NCAA finals and 24-1 overall, retired the first 12 hitters that she faced. Tufts scored a single run in the first as Hedtler led off with a single. With Hedtler on second and one out, Clair was intentionally walked. After two were out, Cooprider walked and then a base hit by Marshall scored Hedtler.
The Jumbos extended their advantage to 3-0 in the top of the third. Clair and Beinecke both singled and scored on a single by Cooprider and a sacrifice fly by Parr, respectively.
Tufts pushed its lead to 4-0 with a single run in the fifth. Cooprider was in the middle of it again with a one-out infield single. She came all the way around to score on Parr's double to left-center.
Senior Cassie Kardias singled for Cortland's first hit to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Their second and third hits soon followed as the Red Dragons loaded the bases with singles by sophomores Erin Wolstenholme and Courtney Kadish. Fournier worked out of the jam though, getting a strike out and catching a line drive back at her to keep it 4-0 Tufts.
The game included a two-hour weather delay. Tufts was leading 4-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth when play was stopped.
The Jumbos didn't miss a beat when the game resumed. Fournier gave up a lead-off single to freshman Diane Cork in the bottom of the sixth, but retired the next three. The bats added to the Jumbo lead with two more in the top of the seventh. Claire led off with a single and Beinecke followed with a walk. After Cooprider was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Marshall's fielder's choice scored Clair and Beinecke came home on a Cortland error.
With the team's berth into the final round three outs away, Fournier allowed a lead-off single to senior Nicole Gallo in the bottom of the seventh. However, she finished off the victory in style by striking out the next three hitters to end it.
In her seven innings, Fournier allowed five hits and struck out eight while walking none. For three appearances at the NCAA finals, she has allowed just one earned run in 22 innings for a 0.31 earned run average. She has struck out 28 and walked only two.
No one in the Cortland line-up had more than one hit. Corrigan took the loss (20-6) for the Red Dragons. She gave up nine hits, six runs (five earned) and four walks with one strikeout.