NESCAC domination

Jumbos win softball player, coach of the year

The Tufts softball team, which won its third straight New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) title this season, earned seven recognitions when the 2003 All-NESCAC team and awards were announced. The Jumbos won two of the four major awards and placed five players on two All-Conference teams.

Senior catcher Lis Drake was named NESCAC Softball Player of the Year.

Senior catcher Lis Drake was named Player of the Year following a vote by the conference's coaches. Jumbo Head Coach Kris Talon was picked as the Coach of the Year. Drake, sophomore shortstop Courtney Bongiolatti and junior third base player Julie Fox were named to the First Team. Junior second base player Deana Davidian and sophomore first base player Katie Smith were Second Team selections.

Tufts, 25-11 overall, is ranked 18th in the country. The team earned its first-ever #1 seed in the NCAA New England Regional Tournament.

Drake had her usual outstanding season at the plate and was equally excellent behind it as the team's everyday catcher. She leads NESCAC in runs and is tied for the lead in home runs. With a rifle arm, she picked off five base-runners this season. In all games against NESCAC teams this season, Drake led the Jumbos with a .475 batting average, 13 walks and 17 runs scored. She was the conference's Player of the Week on April 14 after hitting .625 during a 5-1 stretch that included conference double-headers against Colby and Bowdoin. This is the fourth straight year Drake has been on the All-NESCAC First Team. She was the conference's Rookie of the Year in 2000. She is the third straight Jumbo to win NESCAC Player of the Year, following Jen Mackey last season and Randee McArdle in 2001.

Talon is NESCAC's Coach of the Year for the third straight season. Despite the loss of All-American pitcher Jodie Moreau to graduation last spring, Talon has the Jumbos right where they've always been for most of the past decade. She has recruited a batting order that was the fiercest in the league, hitting a team record 26 home runs and leading NESCAC with 182 runs scored. Talon is a 1986 Tufts graduate who has led softball to 338 career wins in 16 seasons as head coach.

Bongiolatti took over at shortstop this season from Mackey and had a spectacular sophomore season. She led Tufts with a .426 batting average and led the conference with 75 total bases. Bongiolatti was the NESCAC Rookie of the Year last season.

Fox had a knack for hitting in the clutch as part of her consistent production this season. No hit was bigger than her three-run double that gave Tufts a 4-1 lead in the seventh and final game of the NESCAC Tournament against Williams. She hit .404 overall, tied with Bongiolatti for the league lead in hits, and had six home runs with 32 RBIs.

Davidian set the table at the top of the Tufts batting order and played excellent defense at second. She hit .353 with 25 runs scored and a .960 fielding percentage (eight errors in 201 chances). Her 21 hits were the most by any Jumbo against NESCAC opposition this season, and she set a conference tournament record with eight.

In the midst of all this hitting, it is Smith who led the team and the league with 33 RBIs. She batted .339 overall with four home runs and only one error in 295 chances at first.