The Harvard women's softball team had no shortage of outstanding individual performances this weekend. No one hit the ball better than junior catcher Mairead McKendry, who hit 8-for-12 over four games. No one was better on the mound than junior pitcher Chelsea Thoke, who gave up just one unearned run over nine innings while earning two wins.
The best all-around effort, however, came from freshman pitcher/leadoff hitter Tiffany Whitton.
At the plate, Whitton sparked a game-breaking rally in each of the four games. On the mound, she picked up her first two wins of the year and put together a gutsy complete-game performance in a 6-2 victory over Princeton.
In that first game of the Princeton doubleheader, Whitton faced a situation that would have made the average freshman pitcher crack. She faced trouble early on, in her first start since pulling her quad a few weeks ago. The Tigers led 1-0 and had the bases loaded with one out in the first inning.
But Whitton was able to regain her composure. She forced Princeton's Kim Veenstra to fly out to left for the second out. Tiger sophomore Sarah Jane White then gave Whitton a tough battle, fouling off four pitches in a row at one point, before Whitton finally beat her with a called third strike.
Whitton's pressure under fire saved the game at that point for the Crimson. Still, Harvard needed to figure out to get hits off of Tiger pitcher Brie Galicinao. After Galicinao mowed down the first nine Crimson batters, Whitton finally broke the ice with a double to left-center. That ignited a three-run Harvard rally that put the Crimson up for good.
In the second game, Whitton crushed any hopes of a Princeton upset in the second game right from the outset. She led off the bottom of the first with her first career home run, a shot into the bushes above the left field fence. The Tigers looked rattled for the rest game and made four errors in the 9-1 Harvard win.
"That home run set the tone for the rest of the game," Harvard Coach Jenny Allard said. "It was all we really needed."
In Saturday's games against Yale and Penn, Whitton was the rally starter again. She lead off the Penn game with a double to left center and scored the game's first run. In the Yale game, her two-out double in the third fired-up a stagnant Harvard offense and sparked a four-run Crimson rally. Whitton earned the win in the Yale game, pitching four innings of relief without giving up a run.
For the weekend, Whitton hit 6-of-13 and scored seven runs. She pitched 11 innings, gave up just four hits and two earned runs. She struck out 12 and walked six.
The freshman Whitton took a long look at Princeton before she finally made the right decision to come to Harvard. Now the Crimson is 9-0 and poised to win its second Ivy title in three years. With Whitton leading off and starting for the foreseeable future, Harvard softball is showing no signs of letting down on its Ivy League dominance, and The Crimson salutes Tiffany Whitton '03 as Its Athlete of the Week.