Softball Winning Streak Snapped by B.U.
As the temperature dropped and the wind picked up, the Harvard bats went cold and the Crimson toppled to the tune of a 5-0 loss to Boston University (20-9, 1-1 America East). For Harvard (12-12, 4-0 Ivy) the loss was its first since spring break, and it snapped the Crimson's 16-game home winning streak that dated back to April 5, 1998.
"We're not happy with how we played," said Harvard co-captain Deborah Abeles. "We know that we did not put out our best effort."
Freshman Sarah Koppel took the loss for Harvard, the first defeat of her collegiate career. Koppel surrendered 11 hits and five earned runs in 6.1 innings of work.
Her counterpart on the hill for B.U., sophomore Robyn King, baffled the Crimson all afternoon. King went the distance for the Terriers, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out five. She improved to 13-5 for the year, and had a no-hitter going through 4.2 innings.
King had earned her second America East Pitcher of the Week award in three weeks last Sunday.
The Crimson, uncharacteristically, could get nothing going offensively. Harvard has had a penchant for scoring many runs late in ballgames, but the barrage never came, as Harvard's hitters simply could not figure out King.
"I don't know if I can explain the problem," Abeles said. "I think there was a lack of motivation for this game."
The Terriers did not have the same trouble with the sticks, and the Herr sisters led the way. Sophomore second baseman Kerry Herr went 3-for-4 and scored twice, both times driven in by her twin sister Courtney, who went 2-for-4 with three RBI. Junior first baseman Amy Parker was 2-for-2 on the afternoon and drove in B.U.'s other two runs.
B.U. wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Kerry Herr belted the first pitch of the game down the third-base line for a double, and after moving to third on a sacrifice, scored on her sister's groundout to short.
The score remained 1-0 until the fifth, when B.U. senior Betsy Gonski smacked a one-out single up the middle and stole second. She scored two batters later on Parker's bloop hit to left. Gonski finished the game 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Harvard started to mount threats in the fifth and sixth innings, but the Crimson squandered both opportunities. With one out in the fifth, sophomore designated player Mairead McKendry reached base when B.U.'s Aryn Rangel dropped her pop-up.
One out later, junior center fielder Jessie Amberg singled up the middle to put runners on first and second with two outs. Junior Ghia Godfree came in to pinch-hit, but she popped up to short to end the inning.
Senior second baseman Tara LaSovage led off the Crimson's next frame with a double into straightaway center, Harvard's only extra-base hit of the game. But King retired Harvard's next three hitters--including the Crimson's two biggest guns, co-captains Abeles and Terri Teller--to retire the side.
"I think a lot of [our hitting trouble] is mental," Abeles said. "Fixing it means refocusing and making sure people are driven."
The Terriers sealed the victory with three runs in the seventh. Gonski and Kerry Herr started the inning with back-to-back singles and moved over to second and third on a double steal.
Parker plated Gonski with a bunt single, and Courtney Herr rounded out the scoring with a two-run single to center that chased Koppel. Freshman Julie Schwab came on in relief and retired both batters she faced.
Fatigue may have been a factor for the Crimson, which was coming off consecutive doubleheader sweeps of Ivy League foes Yale and Brown last Saturday and Sunday. Harvard's players looked sluggish at the plate and a step slow to balls in the field.
"Our overall performance was a drained performance," Abeles said. "We're trying to fight a decrease in energy."
The road gets no easier for Harvard or for its bats. The Crimson will travel to Amherst tomorrow for a doubleheader versus No. 21 UMass, and the Minutewomen are likely to throw senior ace Danielle Henderson in at least one game. Henderson is in the top-20 on the NCAA career strikeouts list, and threw her 10th career no-hitter April 1 against Vermont.