Coe Edges Tufts 1-0 in NCAA Softball Championship

Courtesy Tufts Sports Information

MONTCLAIR, N.J. - Coe College senior pitcher Sonja Schwenker shut out the Tufts University softball team in a winner's bracket game at the NCAA Championships on Saturday evening, allowing just three hits in a 1-0 victory for the Kohawks.

Tufts (43-2) drops into the loser's bracket, where they will face the University of Texas-Tyler in an elimination game on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm. Coe (40-11) continues on in the winner's bracket and will play Messiah on Sunday night at 7:30 pm.

Schwenker befuddled the Jumbos all game, striking out five with no walks and getting 11 ground ball outs. She finished the game with six assists, an indication of the Jumbos' inability to get much going against her. Tufts senior lefty Lauren Gelmetti (Westfield, Mass.) was nearly as effective, but suffered her first loss of the year after 19 consecutive winning decisions. She allowed just four hits and the one run with four strikeouts and two walks.

Coe put a runner in scoring position in the top of the first when senior SS Ashley Leonard led off with a bunt single. She stole second with one out, but Gelmetti got two straight infield outs to leave her there. In the Jumbo first, Schwenker had three assists in a 1-2-3 frame.

The Kohawks scored the only run of the game in the top of the third after a lead-off walk to first-year CF Amanda Hanson. After she was sacrificed to second, first-year 2B Katherine King scorched a single past Tufts 1B Christy Tinker (Woodbridge, Conn.), who was playing in and had little chance of fielding the ball. Hanson came around to score and it was 1-0.

Tufts put their first runner on base in the third when first-year All-American DP Lena Cantone (Southington, Conn.) singled to center. However, she was erased on a fielder's choice by senior LF Roni Herbst (Montclair, N.J.), who was then thrown out stealing and the inning stalled.

After Coe went 1-2-3 against Gelmetti in the top of the fourth - including a nice snare of a line drive by the pitcher - the Jumbos had their best scoring threat in the bottom of the inning. Senior CF Laura Chapman (Seattle, Wash.) led off with an infield single and moved to second when senior 3B Samantha Kuhles (Somerville, N.J.) reached on an error. With runners on first and second and no outs, Jumbo senior 2B Danielle Lopez (Danvers, Mass.) hit a ground ball to short that Leonard fielded and raced on her own to third to tag Chapman in a very close play for the first out. Schwenker then got two strikeouts to squash the rally.

Gelmetti was able to pitch around a one-out double by junior RF Erica Smothers in the fifth. Schwenter dealt a 1-2-3 fifth and then Coe survived an inning-opening error in the sixth with a double play on a line drive to first. Tufts had its own double play after Coe's sophomore 3B CC Williams hit a one-out single, but was later thrown out trying to advance to second on a foul ball out to left.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Jumbos had a final chance when senior RF Maya Ripecky (Chicago, Ill.) singled with two outs. However, Schwenker got the final out on a grounder to first to finish off her gem. She improved to 15-6 in the circle.

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