SALEM, Va. -- Allyson Fournier was in search of engineering degree. Tufts University needed a pitcher.
Four years later, that future engineer just wrapped up one of the best college softball careers in NCAA Division III history.
The Jumbos’ four-time All-American spent her last day of college eligibility in a situation she has grown accustomed -- winning a national championship.Fournier, who threw every pitch in Tufts’ national championship tournament run this week, threw a total of 246 pitches in the Jumbos’ two wins against Texas-Tyler on Monday. She said there was no better way to finish a college career.
The victories gave Tufts its third consecutive national championship. And if that’s not enough to impress, consider that Fournier had a 35-0 record for her 51-0 team.
The accomplishments Fournier has achieved in four seasons are countless. But a few stick out just a bit -- she leaves Tufts with a 111-5 record, four trips to the national championship tournament, and a couple of most outstanding player awards.
“It’s what you dream of when you’re a kid,” Fournier said. “It’s what you want to do when you play sports. I can’t even describe the feeling of being here. The first time [we won the title] was incredible. The second time it was like ‘wow, this is unreal.’ And now, I can’t even believe that this happened.”
Fournier’s abilities were known to many softball coaches as she starred at East Catholic High School in Manchester, Connecticut. She said she had gotten offers from other Division III colleges, and even a few Division I schools -- mostly members of the Ivy League. But Fournier also had college plans -- specifically, she wanted to graduate with an engineering degree, a field of study that was available at Tufts. She eventually narrowed her choices to Williams, Cornell and the Jumbos.
“Obviously, it was a big land for us,” Tufts coach Cheryl Milligan said. “I don’t think anybody knew that she was going to be this good in college, at least at that point, but maybe we wouldn’t have gotten her.”
Milligan said she started to become familiar with Fournier during the youth club seasons. The coach said that since her summer team was so deep with pitchers, Fournier ended up throwing for the club’s 16-under team. Eventually, she got Fournier to enroll at Tufts, and the impact was almost immediately noticeable.“She’s worth all the trouble she causes,” Milligan said. “Allyson is just a real fun kid to have on your team. She’s an extraordinary talent. Her mental outlook is the most phenomenal thing I have ever witnessed.
“She’s got tons of talent. She’s got great size, she’s got great speed. She’s got great spin. But what’s between her ears that make her the winner she is.”
Fournier’s impact on the Jumbos was immediate. She won 23 games as a freshman, that number increased to 25 in the pitcher’s sophomore title. When she closed out UT-Tyler, Fournier ended up 111-5 overall.
The pitcher could probably provide details to all five of those losses. She was quick to point out that Linfield, one of the opponents Tufts lost to over the past four years, eliminated the Jumbos in the 2012 national tournament. Her performance was good enough for Fournier to get the first of those four All-American honors.
“My pitching coach when I was in high school told me one time that his goal for me was to be an All-American,” I told him ‘I had no idea what that was.’ But I still tried my best.”
So what’s next for Fournier? First comes a summer off with no real obligations -- expect pitching for a Connecticut-based semi-pro softball team. She will also be interviewing with a couple of companies that are in need of chemical engineers. And while she doesn’t have anything set up at this point, Fournier said there’s a chance will start offering pitching lessons.
Either way, she became qualified for both of those potential employers with the help of what she learned during her four years at Tufts.