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Tufts Athletics | May 25, 2014

Tufts blanks Wis.-Whitewater to advance

  Lauren Giglio finished up the game with a scoreless inning.

TYLER, Texas -- Junior Allyson Fournier and senior Lauren Giglio combined on a three-hit shutout and the Tufts bats hit three more home runs as the Jumbos kept winning at the NCAA championship finals with an 8-0, five-inning victory against Wisconsin-Whitewater on Sunday.

With the victory, Tufts (45-3) is 3-0 at the NCAA finals and advances to play a best two-out-of-three series against Salisbury (43-3), also 3-0 in the bracket, starting on Monday. The second game will also be played Monday. If necessary, a third game will be played Tuesday.

Tufts DP Cassie Ruscz hit two home runs in the win against Wisconsin-Whitewater and finished 3-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Senior catcher Jo Clair also homered as Tufts has now hit eight home runs in three games at the NCAA finals.

Fournier picked up her third win of the finals, improving to 26-0. In four innings, she allowed one hit and struck out seven. Giglio entered in the fifth and gave up two hits, but did not allow a run. The shutout was the 21st of the season for Jumbo pitching.

Wisconsin-Whitewater was eliminated and finished its season with a 39-13 mark. Shortstop Laura Eichenold had two hits for the Warhawks.

After Fournier struck out the side to start the game in the top of the first, Warhawks starter Bekka Houda recorded a 1-2-3 inning of her own.

UWW's Eichenold had the game's first hit with a two-out single in the top of the second, but Fournier got the third out on a foul ball. Ruscz then led off the bottom of the inning with her 12th home run and Tufts led 1-0.

After a three-up, three-down third from Fournier, the Tufts offense gave the Jumbos control with four runs in the bottom of the inning after two were out. Clair and Ruscz powered the surge with Tufts' third back-to-back home runs of the tournament. With two outs, senior LF Sara Hedtler singled up the middle. Junior 3B Bri Keenan was hit by a pitch putting runners on first and second. Clair homered for the fourth time in three games in Texas, a three-run job. When Ruscz followed with her second of the game it was 5-0 Jumbos. 

With her 24th home run of the season, Clair is now tied for the second-most in NCAA Div. III softball history with Mandy Carnes of Muskingum from 2002. She now has 67 career home runs, one shy of second place on the NCAA all-time list.

The Jumbos added a run in the fourth after loading the bases with one out against UWW reliever Kelynn Sporer. Junior 2B Gracie Marshall led off with an infield single followed by a walk and a hit by pitch. After Marshall was forced out at the plate on a ground ball, Hedtler walked to score the sixth Tufts run.

Paige Evangelista and Eichenold had singles against Giglio in the Whitewater fifth, but a pair of fielder's choices prevented any damage.

Tufts would end it with a pair in the bottom of the fifth. Ruscz led off with her third hit, a single to left-center. After pinch-runner Stephanie Tercero took second on a Michelle Cooprider walk, she scored on Marshall's base hit. First-year 1B Summer Horowitz followed with a single scoring Cooprider to end the game by the eight-run mercy rule.

Ruscz and Marshall, who went 2-for-3, were the only Jumbos with multiple hits as Tufts finished with nine. Seven Jumbos scored runs. 

Houda took the loss for UWW, giving up five hits and five runs in 2.2 innings.

The Jumbos, defending NCAA champions, have now won 22 post-season games in a row including conference and NCAA. With that streak, Tufts now has a 45-24 all-time record in NCAA play.