Tufts posts wins over Colby, Babson to maintain strong NESCAC position

First-year Kristi Van Meter winds up in Tufts' 3–1 defeat of Bowdoin at Spicer Field on March 30. Allison Culbert / The Tufts Daily

The Tufts softball team (19–6, 7–2 NESCAC) was victorious in all three of its games against Colby over the weekend, as well as in its lone completed match against Babson on Tuesday.

The Jumbos hosted the Beavers (20–10) for a scheduled doubleheader on Tuesday. In the early game, the visitors took the lead on a two-run home run from senior designated player Erica Pavlo in the top of the second. Tufts stormed back with nine combined runs in the third and fourth innings, however.

The scoring barrage began when Babson senior pitcher and captain Ali Reilly hit Tufts first baseman Sofia Molina with the bases loaded, scoring first-year center fielder Edie Huling. One batter later, Tufts senior catcher Raven Fournier’s single sent in senior second baseman Samantha Siciliano. A throwing error by Babson junior third baseman Ashley Tango then allowed Molina and sophomore third baseman Jamie Stevens to cross the plate, before Fournier scored on a sacrifice fly to open up a 5–2 lead.

The Jumbos added four more runs in the bottom of the fourth, with junior left fielder Kristen Caporelli’s single plating two. Babson narrowed the lead with one run in the sixth and three in the seventh, but could not ultimately close the gap, giving Tufts a 9–6 win.

The second game of the day was postponed due to darkness with the teams tied 4–4 in the top of the eighth. After Tufts took an early 4–1 lead, the visitors managed to claw back into contention — something the team reflected on.

“It just comes down to needing to stay clean throughout the entire game, [and] not thinking you have it sealed once you have a lead,” senior catcher Sarah Finnigan said. “I think we needed to do a better job of staying with it and keep driving in runs, even if we’re up a little bit.”

On Saturday, in the third of its three matches against Colby (2–19, 0–6 NESCAC), Tufts consigned its hosts to an eighteenth defeat of the season with a 12–4 victory in five innings. After a scoreless first inning, first-year left fielder Emma Della Volpe’s two-run single in the second gave Tufts the lead. In the third, first-year pitcher Kristina Haghdan stole home, before an error by Colby junior second baseman Emily Dougherty allowed Fournier to cross the plate for a 4–0 advantage.

Both teams scored four runs in an exciting fourth inning. Caporelli followed junior shortstop Christian Cain’s double with a triple to drive in a run. Three batters later, Stevens hit a three-run home run to increase the Jumbos’ lead to 8–0. Colby responded in kind, however, as senior right fielder Vanessa Warshaw tripled to drive in two runs, before senior first baseman Julia Saul’s double scored Warshaw. Junior pitcher Wiley Holton’s RBI single rounded out the scoring in the fourth.

Tufts scratched out four more runs in the top of the fifth to down Colby, 12–4.

Tufts emerged victorious in both games of Friday’s doubleheader in Waterville, Maine. Cain was proud of the way the Jumbos adjusted and competed over the course of the weekend.

“I think we did really well … just playing our game,” Cain said. “We did a good job timing … [the Colby pitcher’s] speed. Sometimes it can be difficult to transition to much slower pitching, but we did a good job waiting. We had solid defense all around and had really good contributions from the underclassmen.”

In its 10–3 victory on Friday morning, Tufts got off to a strong start, loading the bases in the first inning. The Jumbos were unable to convert, however, as Stevens struck out swinging. The visitors took the lead in the top of the fourth, as Caporelli singled in a run, before Molina knocked in a pair for a 3–0 advantage. Tufts first-year pitcher Kristi Van Meter kept Colby off the board through five innings, striking out eight over the course of the game.

The Jumbos padded their lead in each consecutive inning, scoring two in the fifth, four in the sixth and one in the seventh for a comfortable 10–3 victory.

In the later matchup, Tufts again ran up the score thanks to its strong pitching, as Haghdan registered 10 strikeouts. The Pelham, N.H. native garnered NESCAC Pitcher of the Week honors with her strong performance over the weekend, as she went 2–0 with a 0.88 earned run average (ERA).

Cain had high praise for Haghdan and Van Meter, who hold two of the three lowest ERAs in the conference.

“Haghdan gets better every time she comes out, which is awesome,” Cain said. “She looks more comfortable on the mound. Those two are just total studs.”

The Jumbos scored eight runs in an impressive third inning, effectively putting the game to bed. Molina got the scoring started with a two-run bomb. Sophomore left fielder Emily Serata walked to score first-year right fielder Reegan Coleman, before Siciliano plated three runs with a triple. Huling hit another triple to score Siciliano before stealing home, herself, to cap the Jumbos’ outburst.

The Mules added their lone run in the bottom of the fifth on sophomore left fielder Ella Hommeyer’s single, as the game ended 11–1.

Tufts visits No. 12 Amherst (23–3, 7–1 NESCAC) on Saturday for a doubleheader before hosting MIT (25–4–1) for two rescheduled games on Wednesday. It should be a tough stretch for the Jumbos — who are tied atop the NESCAC East division with the Bowdoin Polar Bears — not just in the quality of their opposition, but also in the number of games they must play in a short period of time.

“[The Amherst games] are going to be a great set for us,” Finnigan said. “I know we’re looking forward to playing a good team, so we just need to keep doing what we’re doing and use all 25 of us. We just need to keep our confidence high [and] get on them [early]. I think we’ll score and see a lot of success this weekend if we do that.”