Softball Wins First NESCAC Championship
May 8, 2011
Middlebury came from down 4-0 to earn its first NESCAC Championship with a 7-4 win at Tufts on Sunday afternoon at Spicer Field. The Panthers will make their inaugural NCAA Tournament appearance when the selections are announced on Monday. Middlebury wins its school-record 29th game against just six losses.
Tufts scored all four of its runs in the first inning, three of them were unearned. Junior CF Lizzy Iuppa led off with a walk and then junior SS Mira Lieman-Sifry was awarded first base on fielder's interference during a sacrifice bunt. Junior 1B Lena Cantone would then reach on a fielder's choice where no out was recorded.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, first year C Jo Clair was hit by a pitch to force Iuppa home from third base. Two batters later, first year Kayla Holland drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly. First year LF Sara Hedtler finished the scoring for Tufts with a two-out two-run single.
Middlebury put its lead-off batter aboard in the home half of the first when sophomore SS Jessa Hoffman was hit by a pitch. She then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt from senior RF Leslie Crawford and then came home on a single by senior Megan Margel. Two batters later the Panthers would pull within two on an infield error scoring Margel.
After the Jumbos went down in order in the top of the second, Middlebury vaulted into the lead in the bottom half. Junior C Alyson Downing was hit by a pitch with one out and was followed by back-to-back singles from senior CF Nellie Wood and Hoffman. The Hoffman hit drove in Downing. After the second out was recorded, Margel would give the Panthers a 5-4 advantage with a two-out single.
The Jumbos threatened in the third, loading the bases on a pair of singles from Cantone and Clair, and then Holland reached on an error. Middlebury first year pitcher Elizabeth Morris had entered the game in the middle of the inning, and was able to strand all three runners. Morris then struck out the side in the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fourth the Panthers added two insurance runs on a two-run homer by Hoffman. The inning started with a single by sophomore Sarah Boylan.
Morris retired Tufts in order again in the fifth, and allowed a single baserunner with two outs in the sixth inning, which was stranded.
First year pitcher Lauren Giglio was strong in relief for the Jumbos, allowing just the two runs on the homer and she retired the Panthers in order in the fifth and stranded a runner in the sixth.
Tufts could not muster anything in the seventh though as Morris recorded her third 1-2-3 frame to pick up the victory for herself as well as the championship for her squad. In 4 2/3 innings of shut-out action, she allowed only one hit and struck out six.
Senior Izzie Santone took the loss for the Jumbos after throwing 1 2/3 innings. She surrendered five runs (four earned) on four hits with no walks and one strikeout. Giglio's final line stood at 4 1/3 innings, two hits, two runs, one walk and one strikeout.
Senior Geena Constantin started for Middlebury and received a no-decision after allowing four runs (one earned) on three hits in 2 1/3 innings. Morris picked up the win in relief to improve to 11-1 on the season, allowing just one hit over 4 2/3 innings of work.
Middlebury was led at the top of the order by Hoffman, who finished 2-3 in the championship game with three runs batted in and three runs scored. Margel also drove in three runs for the Panthers to go along with a pair of hits.
Hedtler finished as the only Jumbo with two hits in the game, while Cantone and Clair were on base twice.
Middlebury went a perfect 3-0 to win the championship and is now 29-6 overall. Tufts finished 2-2 and saw its season end at 23-18.