Courtesy of Tufts Sports Information
AMHERST, Mass. – Rookie pitcher Kristina Haghdan allowed five hits and one run while senior 2B Samantha Sicilianio had three hits, scored two runs and had an RBI as the Tufts softball team started NESCAC Tournament play with a 7-1 win over Wesleyan on Friday at Amherst College.
New this year, the conference championship is being played as an eight-team, single-elimination tournament. Tufts (29-7) moves to the semifinals on Saturday at 5 p.m. where they will face the winner of the Williams versus Trinity game played earlier on Saturday. Wesleyan's season ends at 14-16.
Hagdhan got the start in the first game of the weekend for the Jumbos. Wesleyan put two runners on with one out in the first, but Hagdan worked out of it with a fly ball out and a fielder's choice.
Tufts loaded the bases with one out against Wesleyan starter Julie McDonald in its half of the first but did not score. Siciliano stayed hot by leading off with a double, then sophomore CF Maggie Lebinski singled and stole second. However, after a walk, McDonald got a pop-up and a called third strike to escape the jam.
Following a 1-2-3 second by Haghdan, the Jumbos scored the game's first run after two were out in the bottom of the inning. Senior SS Sara Willner-Giwerc doubled and Siciliano singled her home for a 1-0 lead.
Maddie Ikeda led off the Wesleyan half of the third inning with a base hit and was able to get to third on a sacrifice bunt by Olivia Gordon. However, Hadghan stranded another Cardinal in scoring position with a ground out to end the inning. Wesleyan turned a 4-6-3 double play in the bottom of the third to keep the Jumbo lead at 1-0.
Hagdhan was settling into a groove by the fourth, putting the Cardinals down in order again. Tufts senior catcher Sarah Finnigan led off the Tufts fourth with a double, but McDonald left her there with a pair of strikeouts and a ground out. She had seven K's through four innings.
Ikeda was hit by a pitch with two outs in the Cardinal fifth, but Haghdan got her fourth strikeout of the afternoon for the third out. Siciliano opened the Jumbo fifth with her second double and third hit of the game. She scored on a single by Lebinski with a Wesleyan error on the play making it 2-0. Raven Fournier followed with a one-out single, but Wesleyan cut down pinch-runner Isabel Smokelin at the plate with a throw by CF Rachel Curran.
Following her third 1-2-3 inning of the game, Haghdan had allowed two hits and no runs through six. For the second time in three innings, Finnigan led off with a double that set the table for five Jumbo runs in the sixth. First-year Annika Han had a pinch-hit infield single sending Finnigan to third, then a base hit by freshman CF Edie Huling scored Finnigan. Junior 3B Jamie Stevens and Fournier were hit by pitches in consecutive at-bats with the bases loaded making it 5-0. Sophomore DP Kelsey Dion put the icing on the cake with a two-run single to left against reliever Maria Noto. The Jumbos sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning.
Hagdan lost a shutout in the seventh when Kendall Carr, Brenna Monroe and Lauren Gaffney-Gomez had consecutive singles with one out for Wesleyan. A fielder's choice at home was the second out, but a wild pitch scored the lone Cardinal run before Haghdan ended the game with a strikeout.
In addition to Siciliano's three hits, Lebinski and Finnigan both had a pair for Tufts. Haghdan struck out four and walked one while improving to 11-3.
McDonald struck out nine and walked a batter while allowing 11 hits in taking the loss (5-8) for Wesleyan.