Softball Slugs Its Way to Easy Two-Game Sweep

The seventh-inning stretch would have been more appropriate in the bottom of the second inning of the first game of yesterday’s doubleheader at Soldiers Field. Once the Harvard softball team got its bats going, the Marist Red Foxes stood no chance.

Harvard (6-20) scored seven runs in the second inning to take a 10-0 lead, and never let up, sweeping the Red Foxes (6-20) 11-1 and 11-0 in two games.

The second-inning hitting barrage started with Cara Woodard, which was appropriate, as the freshman centerfielder had a standout day, going 5-for-6 and smacking her first career homerun. In her first at-bat of the day, she hit a powerful shot up the middle of the field for a single.

Freshman outfielder Kerry Flaherty followed up with a soaring double over the left fielder. With runners on first and third, the lead-off hitter sophomore Lauren Stefanchik batted Woodard and Flaherty in with a two-run single. Goldberg then knocked her second double of the game to score Stefanchik.

By this time, Harvard freshman starting pitcher Michele McAteer had to go start warming up to keep her arm loose while her team continued to knock the ball around. Harvard added four more hits and three more runs before Red Foxes third baseman, senior Kathleen McEvily, came up with a diving play to finish the inning.

“I enjoy having the lead, especially a high one,” McAteer said. “I think our defense did very well and our hitting came alive.”

The Red Foxes plated one run when McEvily reached on an error and came home on a sacrifice fly by sophomore designated hitter Melissa Ramos.

In the first, sophomore leftfielder Lauren Stefanchik led off with a bunt and stole second, putting herself in scoring position. Junior shortstop Rachel Goldberg then hit a screaming double, picking up the RBI.

Harvard had already gotten off to a solid start— then the third batter came up. Tri-captain first baseman Tiffany Whitton smacked the ball off the center fielder’s glove, and freshman third baseman Rachel Murray provided an instant replay, bringing Goldberg home. Freshman catcher Erin Halpenny then picked up the third RBI of the inning with a solid hit to left-center.

It looked like the Foxes might provide more of a challenge when they started the second game. By the top of the fourth inning, the score was 2-0 for Harvard, and Marist had been in scoring position a few times. The solid defense by the Crimson and consistent pitching by sophomore Lauren Bettinelli was eventually too much, shutting Marist out completely.

“It just finally felt good,” Bettinelli said. “I’ve been struggling a little with my pitching, so I wanted to hit my spots, stay focused and pitch my game.”

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Harvard offense went crazy, finishing the frame two hitters shy of going through the batting order twice.

The scoring was highlighted by Woodard’s home run, which scored Bettinelli, who had reached on a lead-off double. It was Woodard’s first career home run and an entirely new experience.

“I’ve never really hit one over the fence in my life,” Woodard said. “People were making fun of me because I was running so fast around, and I didn’t know it was going over.”

Harvard coach Jenny Allard praised Woodard for her excellent play.

“She got the starting nod because one of our players had a foot injury, and she really came through,” Allard said.

The Crimson—which had lost six of its last seven—welcomed the opportunity to face the weaker Marist pitchers and appreciated the win.

“We’ve been struggling, so it’s hard to know how we’re going to come out,” Allard said. “Their presence was great, and momentum carried them through.”