Frosh Debut at Softball's Fall Beanpot

FASTER THAN LIGHT
David R. De remer

Freshman outfielder LAUREN STEFANCHIK (L), the all-time U.S. high school leader in stolen bases, beats out a throw to first versus Princeton. Afterwards, she stole second and scored on a Sarah Koppel home run.

Despite the blustery fall weather, Harvard softball unofficially began its season this weekend.

The team competed in the First Annual Softball Beanpot, co-hosted by Boston University and Harvard.

The tournament featured the Crimson, B.U., Boston College, and Providence. The teams played a three-game round-robin that determined the seedings for a bracket competition, which crowned the champion.

After going 2-1 in the round-robin portion of the competition, Harvard was the third seed and fell to second-seeded B.C. in the tournament semifinals.

Harvard Coach Jenny Allard relied on the arms of two freshmen against a veteran Eagles team.

“I wanted to get some freshmen out there, and give them some experience,” Allard said. “They responded very well, I think.”

First-years Beth Sabin and Lauren Tanner turned in impressive efforts, according to junior captain Tiffany Whitton.

“I was so impressed with the way the team stepped up this weekend,” Whitton said. “We came out and played really well for a young team.”

Youth is perhaps the most glaring characteristic of this Crimson squad. After recruiting 10 freshmen last year, Allard brought on seven more. Only six of the Crimson’s 23 players have two years of playing experience.

Centerfielder Lauren Stefanchik showed why Allard’s recruiting efforts appear to be paying off.

A slap hitter with tremendous speed, Stefanchik was consistently on base all weekend.

“There’s no question [Lauren’s] a spark, and she’s usually on base,” Allard said. “I’d say she hit over .400 on the tournament.”

Her efforts, as well as a two-run homer from senior outfielder Sarah Koppel, propelled sophomore pitcher Kara Brotemarkle to her first win of the year against Providence on Sunday morning.

Stefanchik had at least one hit in every game, and was called out on four close calls, according to Allard. As a slap hitter, she relies on her tremendous speed to beat out bunts, chops and slow rollers.

“It’s great hitting behind her,” Whitton said. “She’s always on base, and she has the green light to take second.”