Freshman left-hander Sophia DiCocco tossed a masterful two-hitter to outduel Husson ace Jen Jones on Sunday to lead Tufts University to a 1-0 victory in the championship game of an NCAA Division III softball regional at O’Keefe Field in Bangor.
NESCAC champion Tufts, which went 4-0 in the tournament despite scoring only seven runs in its four wins, improved to 21-5 and advanced to the Division III World Series May 27-June 1in Salem, Virginia.
First-time regional host Husson, which went 2-2 in the tourney, wound uip 29-3.
Reegan Coleman doubled with one out in the bottom of the seventh and eventually scored on a passed ball to decide it.
DiCocco, the New England Small College Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year, only struck out three but induced 17 ground-ball outs. Her slick-fielding teammates committed just one error behind her. Husson hit only two balls out of the infield.
DiCocco walked two and threw just 78 pitches, 51 for strikes.
“I definitely tried to induce ground balls. That’s my thing more than strikeouts. This was one of my better games,” said DiCocco, who is 11-1 with an 0.99 earned run average.
“She kept the ball low,” Husson first baseman Morgan Coleman said. “She had like a drop on her spin so you would hit on top of the ball and pound it into the ground. And they played tough defense.”
“My infielders did a great job. They’re amazing,” DiCocco said.
Jones tossed a six-hitter and eclipsed the 600-strikeout mark for her career as her five strikeouts pushed her school-record total to 603.
She walked two and threw 93 pitches, 64 for strikes.
“She was insane. She had great movement on her pitches,” Coleman said.
“She was one of the better pitchers we’ve faced this year,” DiCocco said.
Jones was pleased with the way she pitched, but said Tufts’ right-handed hitters began waiting on her curve and trying to hit it to the opposite field later in the game.
That’s what Coleman did with her shot to the right-center field gap.
“It was definitely a curve and I took it that way,” Coleman said. “It went in my favor, thankfully.”
Rachel Moore then dropped a sinking, line-drive single just in front of lunging right fielder Sydney Ames, who did a nice job keeping the ball in front of her to prevent Coleman from scoring.
Coleman moved to third and Moore was at first when Kat Yuzefpolsky squared around to bunt on Jones’ first pitch. The pitch was high but Husson catcher Erin Bonenfant had it glance off her glove for the passed ball that allowed Coleman to score.
A double by Whitney Bess and Olivia McCarty’s infield single were Husson’s only hits.
Bess drilled her double to the right-center field gap with two outs in the third but she tried to stretch it into a triple and the relay throw easily beat her.
Jones pitched out of a couple of jams.
Husson third baseman Kenzie Dore made a terrific lunging grab of Emma Della Volpe’s scorching liner to strand two runners in scoring position in the third.
In the fifth, center fielder Bess gunned down a runner at the plate with a perfect throw on Yuzefpolsky’s base hit.
Moore had two singles for Tufts and Nicole Russo had a double as did Coleman.
Husson opened the tourney with a 12-4 victory over Endicott on Friday, then dropped a 9-1, six-inning decision to Eastern Connecticut State on Saturday before staying alive later in the day with a 2-0 victory over Brandeis.
Tufts beat Babson 2-1 and Brandeis 2-0 before rallying to eliminate Eastern Connecticut State 2-1 earlier Sunday.
Husson’s Jones was chosen the tourney’s Most Outstanding Player and Tufts’ Kristina Haghdan was the Most Outstanding Pitcher.
The other all-tourney picks were Husson’s Ames,DiCocco, Kristi Van Meter and Mia Steinberg of Tufts; ECSU’s Brooke Matyasovsky and Julia SanGiovanni; Marley Felder of Brandeis, Michaela Hamill of Endicott and Babson’s Brooke Stock.