Tufts Falls to Linfield in NCAA Softball Championship
Courtesy Tufts Sports Information
SALEM, Va. – Linfield College, the top home run hitting team in the nation, blasted three solo shots on Sunday afternoon and eliminated Tufts, 4-1, in Game #9 at the NCAA Softball Championships. The Jumbos (41-7) end their season by tying for fifth-place nationally.
The middle of Linfield's order all hit solo home runs. Junior 3B Karleigh Prestianni smashed her 10th in the second, senior catcher Emilee Lepp launched her 16th in the fourth and senior 1B Staci Doucette had her 20th in the sixth. Linfield (44-6) has hit 74 home runs in 50 games.
The Jumbos rallied in the bottom of the seventh and would bring the tying run to the plate. With one out, Parr got her second hit of the game with a ground ball single up the middle. Pinch-runner Bri Keenan (Portsmouth, N.H.) moved to second on a wild pitch, and she scored when pinch-hitter Chrissie Massrey's (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) glanced off Ashley Garcia's glove at second base. Senior CF Lizzy Iuppa (Paramus, N.J.) followed with an infield single to short, putting Jumbos on first and second and bringing the potential tying run to the plate. However, Paavola got a strike out to win it for the Wildcats.
Linfield, defending national champions, move on in the loser's bracket to face either Roanoke or Luther at 7:30 pm on Sunday.
The first long ball of the day was hit by Tufts sophomore catcher Jo Clair (Glastonbury, Conn.), but it stayed in the park. Tufts senior 1B Lena Cantone (Southington, Conn.), 2 for 4 in yesterday's Jumbo win against Plattsburgh, drove a single to right-center. Clair hit a deep fly to center that looked like it had a chance to get out, but the wind may have kept in play.
Tufts senor SS Mira Lieman-Sifry (Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y.), who made a nice over-the-shoulder catch in the first, started the second with another nice play, going into the hole to snare a grounder and throwing out Staci Doucette. However, Prestianni was next and she hit a line-drive home run that put Linfield up 1-0.
Tufts had a good opportunity to tie the score right away. Junior 2B Emily Beinecke (Concord, Mass.) led off the Jumbo second with a single through the left side and was sacrificed to second by Parr. Sophomore DP Kayla Holland (Attleborough, Mass.) lined a single back at Wildcats sophomore pitcher Karina Paavola that deflected to short. A wild throw to first was saved by Doucette, keeping Beinecke at third. That was important, as Tufts then popped up a squeeze bunt attempt that turned into a double play at first.
Lepp hit a one-out solo home run to left in the fourth, giving the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Linfield had two hits at that point, both home runs. Meanwhile, Paavola retired the side in the fourth and was at seven in a row for Linfield.
Fournier, shouldering the load in the pitching circle all weekend, uncharacteristically walked three in the fifth. Clair threw out pinch-runner Kate Hasty attempting to steal. However, after back-to-back walks with two outs, Wildcats first-year LF Grace Middelstadt dropped single over third base to score a run and make it 3-0. It was just her second rbi of the season.
Parr led off the Jumbo fifth with a single to right-center, but solid defense by the Wildcats produced three straight outs and Linfield led 3-0 heading to the sixth. Doucette made it 4-0 with a long fly-ball home run in the fifth. Lieman-Sifry had another lead-off single for Tufts in the sixth, but Paavola motored along with three more outs to take Linfield into the seventh leading 4-0.
After a scoreless top of the seventh for Linfield, Tufts showed spunk in bringing the possible tying run up, but the margin was too great and the stellar 2012 Jumbo campaign came to a close.
Tufts out-hit Linfield 7-4 in the game. Fournier, who had allowed just one home run this season entering the game, allowed four hits and four runs with eight strikeouts and five walks in seven innings. She finished the season at 23-3.
Paavola improved to 24-3, giving up seven hits and an unearned run with four strikeouts and no walks in seven innings.