Softball Sweeps Crusaders in Doubleheader

After a rough weekend in New York, culminating in its first three Ivy losses of the season, the Harvard softball team (17-15-1, 5-3 Ivy) bounced back with two wins against in-state rival Holy Cross (9-23).

The Crimson ended the three-game skid with clutch but not overwhelming offense, augmented by strong pitching performances by co-captain Kara Brotemarkle—who allowed three runs in a complete game—and by freshman Becky Voaklander, who closed out the second game with 3.1 innings of one-hit relief.

HARVARD 4, HOLY CROSS 3

After junior starter Lauren Bettinelli left having allowed three runs in the bottom of the fourth, Voaklander entered in relief down 3-0 with a runner on. She ended the threat with a ground ball to third, and gave up only one hit as Harvard rallied behind her for a 4-3 comeback win in the second game of the doubleheader.

The role of relief pitcher is one unfamiliar to Voaklander, but she embraced it and filled it well yesterday.

“I’m always happy to play,” Voaklander said. “It’s a role I haven’t played in a while, being the top pitcher on my high school team and oldest player on my travel team.”

The Crimson started the scoring in the top of the fourth inning, with junior Lauren Stefanchik sparking the offense with a bunt single. Junior Cecily Gordon doubled to centerfield, making the score 1-0 in favor of Harvard.

The Crimson’s lead did not even last half an inning, as Holy Cross’s Aly FitzPatrick led off the inning with a solo home run. Megan Lally reached on a passed ball after a strikeout, and was driven in on a double by Michelle Green. Green soon scored on a single, but Voaklander came in and ended the rally.

Harvard scored its second run in the top half of the fifth after senior Rachel Goldberg scored on a double by freshman Julia Kidder. Goldberg stole second after reaching on a fielder’s choice, setting up Kidder for an RBI.

With only six outs left, Harvard entered the top of the sixth needing just one clutch hit—and freshman Virginia Fritsch delivered. After Gordon singled and left the game for sophomore pinch runner Erin Halpenny, Fritsch blasted a homer to score the last runs Voaklander would need.

With a runner on first base, the Crusaders made one last attempt at a comeback. But the rally came to an abrupt halt after a called pitchout play caught the runner taking an aggressive lead at first, and the hopes of Holy Cross fell with one swipe of senior Sara Williamson’s glove.

HARVARD 5, HOLY CROSS 3

In the first game of the doubleheader, Brotemarkle fought off a two-out rally in the bottom half of the sixth to pitch a complete game and get her eighth win, after Harvard managed to provide its own two-out magic in the top of that inning.

Brotemarkle entered the inning with a 5-0 lead and got the first two batters of the inning out. But, with only four outs left, the Crusaders began to stage a late rally. A two-run double by Lally brought Holy Cross within three, and a single by Green made the score 5-3.

Brotemarkle buckled down, getting a strikeout for the last out of the inning. The Crusaders threatened again in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on third, but Brotemarkle got the last out on an infield pop fly.

The Crimson scored its first run in the top of the third on the strength of two sacrifices. Kidder moved freshman Lauren Brown to second base with a sacrifice bunt, and Brown moved to third after an error by Akeni Topel. Brown scored the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Gordon.

With two outs in the top of the sixth, the Harvard offense exploded for four runs. Two walks and two singles yielded one run and loaded the bases for Brown, who subsequently doubled and drove in the two game-winning runs. Before the end of the inning, Goldberg would add further insurance by scoring on an error.

After these two victories against a non-Ivy opponent, the Crimson will face an important Ivy test in two doubleheaders at Brown and Yale. The Bulldogs stand atop the league standings, and if Harvard hopes to find success, it will have to carry over the offensive momentum.

“I think it is very important to go into next weekend playing well and to get our bats going as we face the top teams in the Ivy League,” said Brown.

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