Softball Passes the Cornbread

So much for Southern hospitality.

Three weeks ago, the Harvard softball team was run out of Georgia faster than you could say "Pass the cornbread". The Crimson dropped all five of its games in that weekend's National Fastpitch Coaches' Association Leadoff Classic, and was outscored by its opponents 35-5.

This weekend, Harvard (2-6) hopes to redeem itself in the Peach State as it travels to Marietta, Ga. to participate in the Buzz Classic. The tourney begins a busy week of competition for the Crimson, who will play Virginia and Radford next Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, before participating in a tournament at Virginia Tech next weekend.

Today, the Crimson face Maryland and Mercer in the opening rounds of the Buzz Classic.

Fresh off a two-game sweep of Georgia Tech on Tuesday, the Terrapins (14-13) are led by .

sophomore pitcher Amanda Bettkar (7-6, 1.54 ERA), who has allowed just 66 hits in 91 innings of work.

Mercer (14-14), meanwhile, has taken a nosedive recently after starting out the season with five straight wins. As of yesterday, the Bears had dropped 12 of their last 18 games.

For Harvard, junior ace Chelsea Thoke and sophomore hurler Suzanne Guy, who combined to start 30 of the Crimson's 38 games last season, will be heavily relied upon to quiet the bats of the opposition.

The tandem will be tested early, as Mercer features a proven slugger in the form of freshman third baseman Stacey Nagle, who leads the team in home runs (8) and RBIs (27).

Coastal Carolina (14-18), another Crimson opponent in this weekend's tournament, boasts four starters with averages above .300.

Tomorrow, the Crimson faces Coastal as well as Southwest Missouri State (10-11).

After the Buzz Classic, Harvard will travel up the Atlantic coast for its first-ever meetings with Virginia (10-22) and Radford (3-25).

Those contests will be followed by three days of games in the Hudson-Hokie Classic in Blacksburg, Va.

The Crimson's fiercest competition at that tourney will likely be Virginia Tech, who enter this weekend riding a 22-game winning streak at home.

The Hokies' pitching staff, which has held opposing line-ups to four runs or less in all but two of its games so far this season, will challenge the Crimson's ability to produce runs.

Harvard captain Deborah Abeles, who homered in last weekend's win over St. John's, and sophomore Sarah Koppel, who went 2-for-2 in that game, will have to have strong days at the plate.

If the Crimson can indeed upend the Hokies (17-9), it will stand in good stead as it readies itself for the start of the Ivy season on April 8.