Softball Happy to Return Home After Tough Road Trip

Fortunately for the Harvard softball team, the remainder of its regular season schedule features no more games south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

This spring, the Southland has been anything but kind to the Crimson (5-16), whose tour of Georgia and Virginia last week resulted mostly in a combination of close losses and embarrassing blowouts.

The Crimson fell in all but three of its 12 games during spring break. A 7-2 victory over Radford last Wednesday and a pair of wins over Liberty this weekend were the week's lone bright spots.

The Crimson twice nearly scored an upset over No. 24 East Carolina in this weekend's Hudson-Hokie Classic in Blacksburg, Va., but came up short in both games. Harvard was thus forced to take solace in yesterday's tight win over Liberty in the tournament's consolation game.

HARVARD 10, LIBERTY 9

After giving up a game-tying run to Liberty in the top of the seventh, Harvard scored a run of its own in the bottom half of the inning to secure a 10-9 win over the Flames.

With the victory, the Crimson claimed third place in the tournament hosted by Virginia Tech.

Harvard sophomore thrower Sarah Koppel was credited with the win, improving her record to 3-5.

For the Flames (22-19), junior right-hander Amy Csider took the loss to fall to 6-8 on the season.

EAST CAROLINA 6, HARVARD 5

Earlier yesterday afternoon, the Crimson fell 6-5 to East Carolina in the Hudson-Hokie semifinal game.

Despite moving within one run of the Pirates following a three-run fifth inning, Harvard was unable to score in the final two frames off Pirates reliever Denise Reagan, who saved the win for starter Laurie Davidson.

Harvard starter Chelsea Thoke suffered her second loss in as many starts, allowing six runs on ten hits over seven innings of work.

For East Carolina (40-6), Keisha Shepperson went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. She also scored two runs.

VIRGINIA TECH 11, HARVARD 1

On Saturday, host Virginia Tech extended its home winning-streak to 24 games, overpowering Harvard 11-1 in the second day of its own tournament.

In her first start since going down with a shoulder injury in mid-March, Hokies hurler Ashlee Dobbe captured her eighth victory of the season.

Dobbe struck out eight batters in the five-inning effort before the Hokies took the game on the eight-run mercy rule.

Thoke, Harvard's starter, fared significantly worse, as Virginia Tech pounded out nine hits, including senior Kara Krumhardt's first round-tripper of the season.

EAST CAROLINA 9, HARVARD 7

In a game that featured a combined total of 16 runs and 21 hits, Harvard was unable to pull off a surprise win against East Carolina.

Despite leading 4-0 after three innings of play, Harvard could not contain the Pirates, who stormed back for five runs in the top half of the fourth.

Freshman Hillary Halpern powered the East Carolina offense, slugging two home runs and contributing five RBI.

Pirates senior Denise Reagan was awarded the win after relieving starter Lisa Paganini in the fifth inning. The Crimson had teed off against Paganini for six runs on nine hits.

Harvard sophomore pitcher Suzanne Guy got the loss for Harvard.

HARVARD 4, LIBERTY 3

Harvard sophomore second baseman Cherry Fu went 3-for-4 and plated two runs, including the game-winner, as Harvard rallied for four runs in the bottom of the seventh to overtake Liberty, 4-3, in the opening round of the Hudson-Hokie Classic.

Starting thrower Thoke settled down after a shaky start that saw her surrender three runs in the second inning. Thoke spread six hits across seven innings to earn the complete-game victory, her second win of the year.

Senior hurler Leslie Inge was the tough-luck loser for Liberty.

HARVARD 7, RADFORD 2

Thoke finally recorded her first victory of the season as the Crimson overcame an early 2-0 deficit to win at Radford, 7-2, last Wednesday.

Thoke, last season's Ivy League Player of the Year, was sensational in the win, fanning nine Highlander batters and allowing just one hit. She also helped her own cause, smacking a double and scoring a run.

The Harvard offense lit up Radford starter Deana Benner, as three Crimson starters had multi-hit games and all but one reached base at least once.

VIRGINIA 8, HARVARD 0

In the second of two games at Virginia, a three-run homer by Cavalier right fielder Meaghan Young in the bottom of the sixth inning extended Virginia's lead to eight runs and ended the game on account of the mercy rule.

Young was 3-for-4 on the afternoon, with four RBI and two runs scored. She was just one double shy of hitting for the cycle.

Harvard starter Guy struggled on the mound, allowing eight runs -all earned--on eleven hits.

For Virginia (15-27), starter Kristen Dennis was masterful, striking out eight. Through six innings, she did not allow a single Crimson baserunner to advance past first base.

VIRGINIA 4, HARVARD 0

In the first game of the doubleheader in Charlottesville, Va., the Cavaliers scored four runs in the first inning, providing senior pitcher Stacey Zagol with all the support she would need en route to a two-hit, 4-0 shutout of the Crimson.

Zagol struck out five and walked just one batter in the contest, which was called early due to rain.

Thoke, who gave up eight hits and two earned runs in five innings, received the loss for Harvard.

COASTAL CAROLINA 4, HARVARD 1

Coastal Carolina snapped a 1-1 tie with three runs in the seventh inning to knock off Harvard, 4-1, in the Crimson's final game at the Buzz Classic in Atlanta.

Harvard pitcher Suzanne Guy had pitched five scoreless innings before the Lady Chanticleers (17-21) finally got on the board with a run in the top of the sixth, courtesy of an RBI single by right fielder Danielle Jenkins.

Then, with two outs and the bases empty in the top of the seventh, Coastal Carolina strung together four hits that, together with a wild pitch by Guy, led to three Chanticleer runs.

Coastal Carolina starter Lauren Yates then set the side down in order in the Crimson half of the seventh to earn her fifth victory of the year against twelve losses.

SW MISSOURI 8, HARVARD 0

Southwest Missouri State third baseman Jessica Gorham went 3-for-3 with three RBI to lead the Bears past the Crimson, 8-0.

The mercy rule was invoked in the sixth inning when Harvard failed to score after Southwest Missouri State (16-16) erupted for five runs in the top half of the inning.

The Harvard offense struggled all day, managing just three hits off Bears freshman starter Sarah Nemlowill, who finished with six strikeouts.

Crimson sophomore Sarah Koppel, who allowed 13 hits and three walks, received the loss.

MERCER 4, HARVARD 3

With two runs already in and Harvard senior Jessie Amberg at third base representing the tying run, Mercer starter Stephanie Anunson got Harvard first baseman Ghia Goddfrey to commit the game's final out to preserve a 4-3 win for the Bears.

Prior to the Harvard last-inning comeback try, three Crimson errors in the sixth inning had facilitated a four-run Mercer rally that broke a scoreless tie.

Despite allowing no earned runs through seven innings, Harvard junior Jen Vogt-Lowell was dealt the loss.

Anunson, who struck out three batters while walking just one, received the win for the Bears (17-17).

MARYLAND 6, HARVARD 3

Maryland sophomore starter Amanda Bettkar limited Harvard to six hits in seven innings of work to lift the Terrapins over the Crimson, 6-3, in the first game of the Buzz Classic.

The Terrapins (20-17) got to Harvard starter Thoke early, scoring five runs in the first two innings. The Maryland onslaught was highlighted by a two-run double off the bat of senior designated hitter Cortney Madea in the top of the second.

For Harvard, captain Deborah Abeles hit a two-run double of her own in the bottom of the third to cut the Terrapin lead to 5-2.

Maryland, however, added an additional run in the seventh off a solo home run from Madea.

An attempt at a Harvard rally in the home half of the seventh came up short, plating just one run.