Jumbos improve to 16-0

Senior Christina Raso's strong offense paved the way for the Jumbos national title defense. Caroline Geiling / The Tufts Daily

After a very successful spring break trip, the nationally No. 1-ranked Tufts softball team returned to Medford with a full slate of games on the schedule for this week. But due to unseasonably bad weather in Massachusetts, the team’s home opener against Bates on Friday was postponed, as was the team’s doubleheader on Saturday. As a result, the Jumbos didn’t begin the northern leg of their season until Wednesday.

With the weather significantly milder on Wednesday than it had been the previous weekend, Tufts traveled to Babson for a doubleheader. Babson went 10-4 on their spring break trip (the same one that Tufts participated in) and entered its matchup with the Jumbos at 10-6 after losing two games to Wheaton on Tuesday.

Against the unranked Beavers, the Jumbos picked up right where they left off in Florida, winning both games of the doubleheader by scores of 2-0 and 7-1.

Game 1 featured a pitchers’ duel between Jumbos’ senior tri-captain Allyson Fournier and Beavers’ senior tri-captain Meghan Hayes.

The only runs of the game came in the top of the third inning, which junior Christina Raso led off with a base hit. A single from senior Bri Keenan sent Raso to third, and then a stolen base by Keenan raised the stakes. With two runners in scoring position and the game still scoreless, sophomore Cassie Ruscz singled to center, driving in both runs.

Both Fournier and Hayes subsequently bore down and shut the door on their respective batters, allowing a total of just four hits and no runs for the remainder of the game.

Hayes allowed six hits, four of which came in the third inning, and finished the game with three walks and one strikeout over seven innings. Fournier finished with 14 strikeouts and one walk, allowing two hits and no runs over seven innings.

With no outs in the bottom of the third inning, Fournier struck out Babson senior Lindsey Schmid, notching her 1,000th career strikeout. This feat is especially impressive in light of the fact that she has faced fewer than 2,000 batters in her career.

Later in the day, the squads faced off again, but the end result was pretty much the same. The Jumbos’ offense came alive, scoring seven runs on 11 hits against Babson first-year starter Ali Reilly.

Tufts opened the scoring in the second inning, with senior tri-captain Gracie Marshall setting the table with a single to open the frame. First-year Raven Fournier’s one-out double advanced Marshall to third and set the stage for a big at-bat by Raso. Raso delivered, knocking the ball into left-center to score both runs and making it to second base for a double.

The Beavers responded in the bottom of the inning with a run of their own, but the Jumbos’ junior starter Erica County limited the damage to one run with a big two-out strikeout with the bases loaded.

Both teams were quiet until the top of the sixth, when Raven Fournier continued her strong day at the plate. She smashed a two-out homerun to right field, bringing Tufts’ lead to 3-1. The round-tripper was her first of the season and the first of her young career.

The Jumbos broke the game open in the top of the seventh inning, scoring four runs on three hits and two errors.

First-year Samantha Siciliano opened the frame with a walk, and senior tri-captain Michelle Cooprider followed with a single. With two ducks on the pond, Ruscz singled and advanced to second on an error, driving in two runs. Marshall then reached on a fielder’s choice, and Ruscz scored on a throwing error by the catcher. Sophomore Summer Horowitz singled up the middle, bringing home Marshall and extending the Jumbos’ lead to 7-1.

After stranding three baserunners in the second, County settled into a groove and allowed just four hits and no runs for the remainder of the game.

With the two wins on Wednesday, the Jumbos improve to 16-0 on the season, having outscored their opponents 114-26 through 16 games.

Despite the good start to the season, Tufts still has yet to play a home game and has yet to play a conference opponent. Both will change on Sunday, as the Jumbos play host to the Bates Bobcats as they begin their quest for the NESCAC title.