MEDFORD – Head coach Lauren Ebstein and assistant coach Marly Becker of the Tufts University softball team were voted by the other coaches in New England as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honorees for the 2021 season.
Coach Ebstein and her assistant Becker navigated perhaps the most challenging season among the recipients, eventually getting to 28 games and a 21-7 record, which included the Jumbos' return to the NCAA's final eight for the first time since winning their third-straight national championship in 2015. Team athletic trainer Emily Young was also an integral part of the staff, going beyond what was required of her job during the unusual season.
The Jumbos did not find out that they would be playing a competitive schedule until March 9. They started their season less than a month later and went on to win the NESCAC East Division pennant with a 7-1 mark. That gave the Jumbos a berth into the conference championship series, which they won by sweeping a best two-out-of-three series at Williams College by 10-0 (five innings) and 7-2 scores. It was Tufts' second straight conference championship and 12th overall.
The Jumbos then went 4-0 to win the NCAA Regional hosted by Husson University as the fifth seed. The victories were all tight games against Babson (2-1), Brandeis (2-0), Eastern Connecticut (3-1) and Husson (1-0), with the Jumbos winning three times in their final at-bat. The pitching staff logged a 0.25 earned run average for the tournament, allowing just one earned run in 28 innings.
With a 21-5 record, the Jumbos earned the fifth seed for the Division III College World Series in Salem, Virginia. Their season came to an end with losses there to Texas Lutheran (4-3) and Wisconsin-Oshkosh (7-1).
Tufts won four of the NESCAC's five major awards for 2021. Senior Kristina Haghdan was NESCAC's Pitcher of the Year, senior Emma Della Volpe received Defensive Player of the Year for her work at second base, freshman pitcher Sophia DiCocco was voted Rookie of the Year and Ebstein was named Coach of the Year. Michelle Adelman and Nicole Russo also earned All-Conference honors.
Eight Jumbos were on the NESCAC Spring All-Academic Team for carrying grade point averages of 3.50 or better.