BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- Allyson Fournier tossed a two-hit shutout and Bri Keenan went 3 for 3 with two RBI to lead defending national champion Tufts to a 2-0 victory against host Bridgewater State in Game 1 of a NCAA Division III Softball Super Regional on Thursday afternoon at Alumni Park.
The two teams will meet in game two of the three-game series on Friday afternoon. The Jumbos (41-3) need one more victory to win the series and advance to the national finals in Tyler, Texas. The Bears (32-13) would have to win Game 2 and the "if necessary" game three to win the series.
In a battle of two of the top pitchers in all of Division III, Fournier was dominant as she allowed just a pair of bunt singles while walking one and fanning 15. BSU's Amber White pitched well in the loss as she worked out of multiple jams. White (25-4) gave up just the two runs on nine hits with a walk.
Keenan was the hitting star as she drove in both runs with an rbi single in the fourth and an RBI triple in the sixth. Keenan also doubled in the in the second as she was just a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.
The Jumbos threatened in each of the first two innings stranding four runners.
White worked out of a jam in the first as Carrie Copacino reached on an infield single to lead off the frame and advanced to second on a throwing error. After a sacrifice bunt moved Copacino to third, Jo Clair lined softly back to the circle for the second out of the inning. A walk to Cassie Ruscz put runners at the corners with two outs, but White got Michelle Cooprider to line out to first to end the threat.
The Jumbos also put runners on second and third with two outs in the second on a double by Keenan and a base hit by Christina Raso followed by a stolen base. White, however, induced Copacino to ground out harmlessly to short to squash the rally.
The Bears threatened in the top of the fourth by putting runners on the corners with one out. Jocelyn Bettencourt bunted her way on and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Jessica Laudati then reached on a dropped third strike with Bettencourt moving to third on the wild pitch. Fournier worked out of the jam with a foul out and strikeout to keep the game scoreless.
Tufts broke through with the first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth. After Summer Horowitz was hit by a pitch, Gracie Marshall lined a double to right-center to put runners on second and third with nobody out. Keenan then ripped a single up the middle scoring Horowitz from third. Marshall, however, was gunned out at the plate by the Bears' centerfielder Laudati. A fly out to right and a ground out back to the circle minimized the damage as Tufts led 1-0 through four.
The Jumbos made it a 2-0 game in the bottom of the sixth on Keenan's RBI triple scoring Horowitz who had reached on a fielder's choice.
Tufts stranded runners on base in every inning but the fifth and seven total.