The Harvard softball team had an impressive opening to its Ivy season, going 4-0 on its road trip to Brown (4-13, 1-3 Ivy) and Yale (14-12-1, 1-3).
The Crimson (18-4, 4-0) hit the long ball, manufactured runs and showed off its come-from-behind ability in a weekend that showcased its diverse talents. The Crimson pitchers continued their strong performance, and were paced by three wins from senior Suzanne Guy.
Guy earned both Crimson victories in relief yesterday, quieting the Bulldog bats and giving the Harvard offense the opportunity to come-from-behind for a 6-5 victory in the first game. In the second game, a five-run seventh inning rally carried the team to an 8-4 victory.
Harvard opened Ivy play at Brown on Saturday, and thanks to complete games from Guy and Brotemarkle, took two from the Bears by scores of 5-1 and 4-2.
The perfect opening weekend for the defending Ivy co-champions surpasses Harvard’s 3-1 beginning last year.
The Crimson will be looking to continue its winning ways in a nonleague doubleheader against eastern power UMass on Thursday. Then next weekend, in what is already shaping up to be a huge weekend in the Ivy League, Princeton comes to town. The Tigers are 6-0 in Ivy play, including a sweep yesterday of Cornell, the other defending Ivy co-champion.
“They [the Tigers] have a new team, so we’re not sure what to expect,” Whitton said. “We want to focus on bringing our best game, because that’s all we can really control.”
Harvard 8, Yale 4
In the late game against Yale yesterday, Harvard took an early lead as tri-captain Sarah Koppel hit her third home run of the weekend to give the Crimson an early 1-0 lead. Junior tri-captain Tiffany Whitton hit her sixth homerun of the season to push the Crimson advantage to 2-0.
The Bulldogs were able to knot the score in the sixth, erasing a 3-2 Harvard lead. In that frame, Yale plated an unearned run off of Guy after sophomore starter Kara Brotemarkle left the game.
But the Crimson stormed back in the final inning. A leadoff triple by freshman designated player Beth Sabin started the rally, which was perpetuated by four Yale errors.
Sophomore shortstop Rachel Goldberg drove the winning run in on a single, and repeated Yale blunders allowed the Crimson to bat around. Guy sealed the victory after allowing one more run, and improved to 4-1 on the year.
“Suzanne was amazing this weekend,” freshman catcher Laura Miller said. “I had total confidence that she would work her way out of innings. Her pitches were moving and she didn’t throw any mistakes.”
Harvard 6, Yale 5
In the opening contest, Harvard got in a hole early but showed it had the tenacity to come back, winning 6-5 as Goldberg again contributed with a clutch late-inning hit to plate the Crimson’s winning run in the seventh.
Goldberg singled in classmate Sara Williamson to give the Crimson the late lead, and Guy pitched a solid seventh for her second victory of the weekend.
Guy came in for Brotemarkle, who relieved Whitton in the second after Yale tagged her for two earned runs. A low throw home on a bases-loaded chopper back to the mound yielded a third. After Brotemarkle came in to face one batter, Guy came in and stymied the Bulldog rally.
“I hadn’t pitched in two weeks, and just wasn’t hitting my spots,” Whitton said. “Suzanne came in and was great in relief.”
In a 4-0 hole in the fourth after another Yale run, Harvard scored four of its own to knot the score.
Again, Koppel’s bat got the Crimson going. With Whitton reaching on a single, Koppel sent a Shayna Filson offering over the fence.
“It felt good to get started up again at the plate,” Koppel said. “But the really impressive part of the games was the great team effort. Everybody contributed, one through nine.”
With the deficit at 4-2, Harvard continued its rally with a string of singles and Yale errors to tie the game.
The teams traded runs in the fifth, and the stage was set for Goldberg’s late-inning heroics.
“Every inning was a battle against Yale,” Whitton said. “We went out there and played hard, and got some really clutch hitting.”
Harvard 4, Brown 2
Harvard hopped out to an early lead and never looked back in the second game against Brown on Saturday.
With Guy starting on the mound, the Crimson supported her cause by scoring three runs in the third inning.
Again, Goldberg was central to the Crimson’s rally, as her consistent hitting from the ninth spot put her on base for the heart of the order. Whitton brought her in with a single to give Harvard a 2-0 lead. After adding another, Guy had all the runs that she would need.
“I guess it’s a combination of feeling comfortable behind the plate and seeing the ball,” Goldberg said. “Our lineup was solid throughout, and I thought we played really well.”
Brown would add two runs in the seventh, but Harvard closed out the game for its second Ivy victory of the year.
Harvard 5, Brown 1
In its opening Ivy contest, the Crimson again stormed to a third-inning lead, and Brotemarkle pitched the whole game to earn the 5-1 win.
Again, Goldberg got the Crimson going. She reached base and advanced into scoring position, and was again driven in by Whitton.
“We played relaxed I think, so good things happened,” Goldberg said.
Koppel stepped up with the bases loaded in that frame, and launched a grand slam to left center for a comfortable 5-0 lead.
Brown tallied a run in the sixth, but Brotemarkle maintained control and scored the first Ivy win of the year.
“I can’t stress enough how much of a team effort this was,” Whitton said. “No one player can be singled out.”