LEWISTON, Maine -- Bates sophomore Kirsten Pelletier threw a shutout in one of the biggest victories of her career, as the Bates softball team defeated Tufts 1-0 at Lafayette Street Field for their first win against their NESCAC East Division rivals since 2007.
Pelletier (Sidney, Maine) held Tufts (15-6, 4-2 NESCAC East) to five hits and no walks while striking out three batters, rising to 6-5 on the season. She earned her third shutout this season by stranding Tufts baserunners at third base in both the fifth and sixth innings.
Bates' (11-8, 1-5) last victory against Tufts, a perennial NCAA power, came on March 31, 2007, a 4-1 Bates win in the first game of a doubleheader at Tufts. Tufts took the second game that day, beginning a string of 33 consecutive wins against Bates that ended Sunday and winning three national titles along the way.
Pelletier finished off the win with a 1-2-3 inning against pinch hitters Reegan Coleman, Christian Cain and Maggie Lebinski, striking out the first two and getting Lebinski to ground out to first to end the game.
Tufts sophomore Gillian O'Connor (3-1) accepted her first loss of the season despite allowing only one unearned run in a complete-game, six inning effort, holding Bates to three hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
Both teams committed one error in the game, but Tufts' led to the game's only run, in the third inning. First-year Caroline Bass (Newton, Mass.) dropped a single into left center to lead off the inning. She reached second on junior Andrea Russo's (Cheshire, Conn.) groundout, then took third base on a wild pitch. O'Connor struck out Panepinto for the first out, then hit first-year Payton Buxton (Middlebury, Vt.) in the thigh. Bates senior Paige Ahlholm's (North Andover, Mass.) well-hit ball to shortstop was then mishandled, allowing Bass to score from third and put runners at first and third. O'Connor got out of further trouble with a fly ball to end the inning.
A spectacular play by Bates senior shortstop Tori Fitzgerald (Holliston, Mass.) helped Bates escape the sixth inning unscathed. Mia Steinberg led off with a sharp single up the middle, then advanced to second on a wild pitch before Fitzgerald speared a hard grounder into the hole and threw out Raven Fournier from one knee as Steinberg reached third. Pelletier then induced a foul popup to third and fielded a grounder of her own to strand Steinberg at third.
Pelletier also stranded Samantha Siciliano at third in the fifth inning, after Siciliano drilled a two-out triple to right center, putting her 60 feet from tying the game. Annika Han then popped up to shallow left to keep Tufts scoreless.
Steinberg went 2-for-3, the only player from either team with multiple hits on the day.
Bates will next play a doubleheader at Wesleyan University on April 15 beginning at 2pm. The games will not count toward league standings, with Bates in the East Division and Wesleyan in the West.