Infield defense can make all the difference in a ballgame.
Boston University committed six errors over the first three innings yesterday, and by the time it cleaned up its act, the Harvard softball team had jumped to a six-run lead.
The score, following the weather's example, froze at that point, and the Crimson held out for four more arctic innings to wrap up an 8-2 victory at Soldiers Field.
Harvard's success was due, in large part to the sparkling infield play of the freshman double-play combination, shortstop Sharon Hayes and second baseman Mary Baldauf. The pair turned two twin-killings and spearheaded an impressive defense that handled all of its chance, without a single error.
The win opened the season for the batswomen (who finished 11-10 last year) on a positive, albert chilly, note.
"It was a good game to begin with," Crimson Coach John Wentzeil said "I specially on a day when it's 40 degrees."
The squad returned Sunday from spring training in South Carolina, where the temperature remained in the balms 80s all week.
During it, Southern sojourn, Harvard lost scrimmages to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, 100 and 7-4, and to Coastal Carolina, 3-0 and 3-0. Wentzeil was enthusiastic about the trip despite the defeats, nothing that "it was a chance to see where we needed some work."
The original season opener, slated for Monday afternoon against Wheaton, was postponed because of rain and soggy field conditions--which meant that the Cantaby had to wait until yesterday to see some of that spring training work pay off.
The game opened inauspiciously, as Crimson pitcher Gerri Rubin hit the first batter, walked the third, and then gave up a windblown triple to right to the Terriers cleanup batter, Lori Legoff.
Rubin settled down to get the next two hitters on infield grounders, but Harvard headed into the bottom of the first with a two-run disadvantage.
Then the B.U. infield follies began.
Baldauf, the Crimson's leadoff batter, reached second when the Terrier third baseman threw the ball wide of first. Mary MacKinnon grounded out to short, but B.U. first baseman Kerri Smith attempted to make a snap throw to third to catch an advancing Baldauf--and threw the ball away, allowing the run to score.
Next, Gia Barresi walked, moved up on a single to center by Hayes, and was driven in on a fielder's choice ground ball to third by Trisha Brown. Hayes scored on a single by Lisa Rowning--ultimately the game-winning RBI-and the Crimson took a 3-2 lead with them back onto the field.
After Rubin moved down the Terriers in order, striking out two, it was time for a second round of B.U. miseues.
Harvard's Mary Paul beat out a slow roller to the right side advanced to second in some ensuing confusion. She scored when the shortshop misplayed Baldauf's grounder.
MacKinnon, Barrest and Hayes slammed back-to-back-to-back singles, and Brown chipped in with another fielder's choice, as the Crimson drove up the score to 7-2.
"I was real pleased with the bats," Wentzeil said. "We had a lot of hitting, which was something we didn't do down south."
Rubin was boiled out of a tricky situation in the third, as Hayes and Baldauf turned a sharp 6-4-3 doubleplay to crease a batter who had reached on a walk.
In the home half of the third, Baldauf doubled and scored, surprise of surprises, on a subsequent error by first-sacker Smith. Of the light Harvard runs, then, four were directly attributable to B.U. errors.
The Terrier bats began to come alive in the fourth, as the visitors wrapped a pair of singles around a line drive to center. Baldual however, saved the day by grabbing a squibble tagging the runner moving up from Inst and completing the double-play with a quick throw to first.
"The defense was great, "Wentzell" said. "We had two double-plays in the game, and usually you see may be one a week."