After losing in extra innings to Bowdoin last year, the Tufts softball team seized its revenge in three games against the Polar Bears this weekend.
A foundation of their success so far this season, the Jumbos’ pitching and defense shined again in their first conference challenge. Tufts took Friday’s game with a score of 2–1 and rolled in Saturday’s first leg, winning 9–1.
The 10-inning series finale was emphatically concluded with a walk-off single that found left field grass. Chasing one run in the bottom of 10th inning, the Jumbos tied the game, then scored the winning run against the Polar Bears, winning their 11th consecutive game to improve to 15–3 on the season. The star of the moment was junior utility player Kat Yuzefpolsky, who brought home first-year utility player Meggie Murphy to end the game at 6–5.
Saturday’s hero had been hitless as she approached the plate in the bottom of the 10th, but her confidence was unwavering.
“It had not been my best game, so at that point the fact that I was still in the lineup … I understood that [coach Lauren Ebstein] still believed in me and that I was still the person for this job,” Yuzefpolsky said. “It didn’t have to be pretty, it didn’t have to be a home run, but it just had to get the job done and that’s what happened.”
After another close game, which ended 1–0 in the Jumbos’ favor against the MIT Engineers on Tuesday afternoon, the Jumbos are now 6–1 in games decided by one run. This is largely thanks to their focused play in the field, which has them currently ranked No. 3 nationally in all of Division III in earned run average at 0.87.
“The fact that we’ve had this strong defense backing up our pitchers allowed us to only score a couple runs and win a close ballgame,” Yuzefpolsky said.
Friday’s game was a pitcher’s duel from start to finish. Bowdoin starter Anna Halliday and Tufts’ sophomore ace Sophia DiCocco were superb from 43 feet. After Bowdoin scratched across an unearned run in the top of the third, Tufts responded with two runs in the bottom half of the inning and held the 2–1 lead, sealing the win for DiCocco.
“[DiCocco] is obviously amazing,” junior outfielder Michelle Adelman said. DiCocco’s stats this year would prove it. DiCocco has conceded six earned runs in 67.2 innings this season pitched while only walking five batters.
DiCocco is not the only force the Jumbos have inside the circle, and this was proven in Saturday’s first game.
“We’ve added a few pitchers this year which is really helpful,” Adelman said. “We [also] have Sky who … deferred last year, and then we have Lacey. … Between the three of them, we have a really strong pitching staff, which, historically, is always a strength of our team.”
While Tufts’ offense exploded for nine runs on 13 hits, sophomore pitcher Sky Johnson allowed only one hit through six innings pitched.
After splitting with MIT on Tuesday, Tufts now sits at 16–4 on the year. While any program would be pleased with this start, the Jumbos have the longer-term aspiration to add 2022 to their outfield banner list of national championships.
“We know we’re a good team, so it’s really important, mentally, that we stay in it and we know that we’re better than who we play next,” Adelman, who poured in three hits in Saturday’s first game, said.
Tufts softball will be back in action at home on April 12 with two games against Emerson College at 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.