Panther softball season concludes

MEDFORD, Mass. — Host Tufts on Saturday ended the Middlebury College softball team’s season with a 9-3 victory in a NESCAC semifinal.

The Panthers (20-10) had defeated Colby, 7-2, earlier in the day in a quarterfinal. Tufts (32-10), the top seed, lost to Amherst in the league final the next day, and those teams earned the league’s only NCAA Division III tournament bids.

The Panthers shrugged off an early 1-0 Tufts lead with three runs in the third. Jordyn Johnson singled, stole second and scored on an Abby Santis hit. Noelle Ruschil walked and both scored when Megan Fox doubled.

But the Jumbos erupted for seven runs in the top of the sixth to take charge, with a double from Meggie Murphy, a Michelle Adelman triple and a Josie Steinberg single tying the game. Nicole Russo added a two-run single, and Murphy capped the rally with a two-run double. The Jumbos added another run in the seventh.

Sophie Bolinger and Santis each had two hits for Middlebury; Santis extended her hitting streak to 21 games. Ruschil walked three times. Jewel Ashbrook (12-4) took the loss. Sky Johnson (15-4) picked up the win with four innings of hitless relief.

In the win over Colby, the Panthers took the first-inning lead when Fox doubled home Ruschil and Santis. Ruschil hit a grand slam in the fourth to break the game open, her league-best 15th of the season and program-best career 20th. She also drove in a run with a groundout to set a new program mark for RBIs in a season with 48.

Centerfielder Jen McGann came up with two defensive gems, Ashbrook earned the pitching win, Johnson had three hits, and Sophia Marlino and Fox each had two as the Panthers reached the 20-win plateau.

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