MEDFORD – The Tufts University softball team advanced to the 2022 New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Softball Championship final with a 9-3 semifinals win over the Middlebury College Panthers on Saturday afternoon.
A seven-hit, seven-run sixth inning gave the Jumbos (32-9, 11-1 NESCAC East) the lead after tallying just two hits the first five innings, and pitcher Sky Johnson threw four hitless innings after entering in the fourth to get the win. Josie Steinberg finished 3 for 4 to lead the Jumbos offense, with a run scored and two rbis. Meggie Murphy and Rachel Moore both had two hits in four at-bats for Tufts, with Murphy adding a run scored and two rbis and Moore crossing the plate twice. Abby Santis found success at the plate for the Panthers (20-10, 8-4 NESCAC West), finishing 2 for 4 with a run scored and an rbi.
After Tufts got on the board first in the top of the first inning on a Steinberg rbi infield single, Middlebury responded with a three-run third. Jordyn Johnson singled to start it off, stole second and eventually scored on a Santis single through the right side. Santis also stole second base and was driven in by Megan Fox, who ripped a two-run double to right center field to make it 3-1 in favor of the Panthers.
Steinberg had the Jumbos' only two hits of the ball game through five innings, but the offense found their groove in the top of the sixth. Murphy led it off with a double to right center, followed by a Michelle Adelman rbi triple and Steinberg rbi double to tie the game at three. Steinberg gave Tufts the lead, scoring from third base when Lindsay Neumann hit into a fielder's choice, forcing a Middlebury throwing error, and the Jumbos added four more insurance runs in the inning on a Nicole Russo two-rbi single to center and a Murphy two-rbi double.
Johnson (15-4) entered the game after the Panthers' three-run third inning, cooling down their bats for the remainder of the game. She finished with zero runs on zero hits with five strikeouts. The Jumbos added one more run in the seventh inning on a Keriann Slayton rbi single before Johnson shut down Middlebury one last time in the bottom half to clinch the 9-3 victory.
Sophia DiCocco started the game on the mound for the Jumbos, throwing three innings and allowing three earned runs on seven hits with three strikeouts. Jewel Ashbrook was credited with the loss for Middlebury, throwing 6.1 total innings and allowing eight hits and six earned runs while striking out two.
The NESCAC East #1 seed Tufts will now play in the championship game tomorrow, Sunday, May 8 at 10 am against the NESCAC West #1 seed Amherst College.
Written by Tim O'Brien, Athletic Communications Intern