CLERMONT, Fla.—Defending national champion #1 Tufts University (4-1) used a five-run fifth inning to earn a 9-0, five-inning, mercy-rule victory over UMass Boston softball (1-4) Wednesday evening at the NTC Spring Games Main Complex.
After holding the Jumbos to four runs through four innings, the Jumbos scored five two-out runs, with four of the runs coming unearned.
Freshman pitcher Jillian Shepherd (Norwood, Mass.) had her best outing of her young career, allowing just one earned run over 2.2 innings pitched in relief. The young right-hander allowed six hits and walked one, while registering her first two collegiate strikeouts. Sophomore Emily Gray (New Bedford, Mass.) got the start and allowed five hits and four earned runs over two innings.
Lyndsey Capra (Lowell, Mass.), Natalia Bouyea (East Longmeadow, Mass.) and Kaitlyn Morse (Arlington, Mass.) each recorded a hit apiece for UMass Boston. Capra and Bouyea each reached base two times after being hit by a pitch, while Morse recorded the Beacons' lone extra-base hit with a double in the third inning.
Tufts cleanup hitter Cassie Ruscz carried out the brunt of the damage for the #1 ranked Jumbos, as she finished the game 3-for-4 with three RBI, including a walk-off RBI single that plated two runners. Left fielder Sara Hedtler finished 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBI out of the second spot in the lineup.
Senior pitcher Lauren Giglio moved to 2-0 with the win by allowing three hits and striking out six over five innings.
The Jumbos jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two innings thanks to a big two-run double from Ruscz in the bottom of the first and some strong base-running in the second inning.
UMass Boston responded with their best rally of the day in the top of the third, when Morse and Bouyea recorded two of the Beacons' three hits. After the leadoff hitter was retired, Morse rocketed a sharp grounder through the infield and past the center-fielder, for her second double of the season. Bouyea followed with a looper into left-field and took second base when the pitcher was off the circle, to put runners at second and third with one out. Giglio shut the Beacons down from there, inducing a grounder back to the mound and a fly out to center field to end the rally.
Shepherd came in in the bottom of the third and worked her way in-and-out of trouble over the next two innings. After loading the bases with one out in the third, Shepherd forced back-to-back pop-ups to get out of the inning. In the fourth inning, she struck out Tufts' All-American catcher Jo Clair with a runner on second and then with two runners on, she forced a groundout to end the inning.
Tufts proved to much for the Beacons in the fifth though, as the Jumbos crossed the plate five times on four singles, a hit by pitch and two UMass Boston errors.
UMass Boston will wrap up their Florida trip Wednesday when they take on Washington & Jefferson College (9 a.m.) and Trinity College (11 a.m.) at the NTC Spring Games Main Complex.