MEDFORD, Mass. - Senior Erica County threw a six-hit shutout and junior Cassie Ruscz had both RBI's as the Tufts softball team opened 2016 NCAA play with a 2-0 win over Becker College Friday at Spicer Field.
The Jumbos (29-10), hosts of the four-team regional, advance in the winner's bracket and will play WPI on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. Becker (27-11) drops into the loser's bracket and will play Salve Regina on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in an elimination game.
Ruscz's solo home run to right-center leading off the bottom of the fifth inning gave the Jumbos a 2-0 lead.
The Hawks, held to three hits through the first six innings, rallied in the top of the seventh against County. Base hits by Samantha Lee, Ashley Ciepiela, and Rebecca Carkhuff loaded the bases with one out. With the tying run on second base, and the go-ahead runner on first, County got a strike out and a line out to strand the three Hawks on base and finish off the win.
County earned her 19th victory, striking out two and not walking a batter. The Hawks had also loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth, but County doused the threat with a groundball out.
The Jumbos had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Christina Raso bunted and got on when the throw to first was missed. She then took second on a wild pitch and scored on Ruscz's single.
The Jumbos left a pair of runners on base in the first through fourth innings before Ruscz extended the margin to 2-0 with her 17th home run.
Lee had two of Becker's six hits in the game. Hawks starting pitcher Kelsey Norberg (17-4) worked around Jumbos on base all game, finishing six innings allowing eight hits and two runs (one earned) with a strikeout and no walks.
Ruscz was 3 for 3 with the two RBI and a run scored for Tufts. Sophomore Sara Willner-Giwerc had a pair of hits for Tufts.