TYLER, Texas – Taking on the defending national champions #1 Tufts University (43-3) in the first game of the NCAA Division III National Championship Tournament, #6 East Texas Baptist University (44-9) gave up six runs in the top of the sixth inning dropping their opening game, 9-3. ETBU held a 3-2 lead entering the inning but Tufts brought in six runs with two outs as they continue on in the winner’s bracket.
“Early in the game we did a good job of battling through and playing good ball and we talked the past couple weeks about winning the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings and we failed to do that today,” says head coach Janae Shirley.
Down 2-1 entering the bottom of the fifth inning with two outs and Jayme Perez on first base, Alyssa Romero took a first-pitch swing that poked the ball over the left field fence as ETBU retook the lead, 3-2. The home run, which was Romero’s eighth of the year, was third given up this year by Tuft’s Allyson Fournier (24-0). Tufts’ pitching staff has only let four home runs up this year overall.
Romero says about facing the best pitcher in the nation and the 2013 National Player of the Year, “We knew she was a first team All-American and has some pretty good stuff and it was just getting on top of the ball and laying off some of the pitches, not chasing things, and making her come to us and the key to that was waiting for her to bring it to you.”
With the momentum ETBU got the first two batters out in the top of sixth inning but then Tufts pounded out two straight hits to put the tying and go-ahead runs in position. On an 0-1 count an ETBU error on a Christina Roso hit led to two runs for the 4-3 lead. From that point on, Tufts kept the scoring going adding four more runs for a commanding 8-3 lead. Tufts then brought in one more run in the seventh inning for the six-run lead, 9-3.
After two scoreless innings to start the game, Romero gave ETBU their first run of the game for the 1-0 lead. She had a 1-1 count and singled into left field as Mallory Westbrook trotted in from third base. ETBU’s lead did not last long as Tufts hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the fourth inning to take a 2-1 lead. That lead lasted until the bottom of the fifth when Romero had the home run giving ETBU the one-run lead, 3-2.
Parker pitched in all seven innings as she fell to 23-6 on the year recording five strikeouts. She was relieved in the top of seventh inning by Kelly Jo McLendon who faced two batters before Parker came back in. Fournier had eight strikeouts and two earned runs for Tufts.
ETBU had just four hits in the game for three runs while Tufts recorded 12 hits and two errors.
ETBU faces the loser of the Trine University/Montclair State game at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at Suddenlink Field on the campus of the University of Texas-Tyler.
Watch the Game vs. Tufts