Princeton led the Ivy League with a 9-1 record before facing the Crimson at Soldiers Field on Saturday.
But Harvard (16-19, 5-5 Ivy) allowed the Tigers only two runs over two games as it battled against one of the best pitching staffs in the Ivy League. The Crimson won the first game 1-0 and fell in the second game 2-1.
PRINCETON 2, HARVARD 1
The second game of the twinbill, like Game One, was a pitcher’s duel. Freshman Bailey Vertovez started for Harvard and was relieved by sophomore Amanda Watkins after three innings. The pair allowed only one run apiece and proved to be stiff competition for Princeton hurler Kristen Schaus, who entered the weekend with a 1.89 ERA, the third best in the Ivy League.
Schaus held the Crimson scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning. After striking out the lead-off batter, she threw junior Lauren Brown a gem that Brown blasted over the left-field fence. After that, the Harvard offense was stifled by two strikeouts, but Brown’s run put the Crimson within striking distance of the Tigers.
“[Brown] came through big on that hit,” Crimson coach Jenny Allard said. “That was a real spark for us and it got us back into the game.”
Watkins promptly retired in the side in the top of the sixth frame, notching the second of her three strikeouts. She recorded another perfect inning in the seventh, tossing the ball to first base to complete the 1-2-3 inning.
Despite the Crimson’s strong defense and powerful pitching, Princeton’s two runs were all it needed to avoid a Harvard sweep.
HARVARD 1, PRINCETON 0
In the bottom of the sixth inning of Game One, the scoreboard was littered with zeros.
The Crimson stayed focused at the plate, stringing together a pair of hits to get a run on the board.
Brown doubled to centerfield with one out in that inning and scored off junior co-captain Julia Kidder’s subsequent double to center. Princeton hurler Erin Snyder retired the next two batters to end the inning, but the one run was all the Crimson would ultimately need to secure the win.
Sophomore hurler Shelly Madick had an outing similar to last year’s performance against Snyder. Once again, last year’s Ivy League Pitcher of Year proved to be no match for Madick, who preserved Harvard’s perfect record against Snyder.
Madick and Snyder both “move[d] the ball well,” Allard said, adding, “They don’t give you a lot of great pitches to swing at, but they hit the zone and they’re very tough to beat.”
Madick pitched a complete game and recorded her second shutout of the season. She allowed only four hits and four walks and struck out 11 on the way to her seventh win of the season—a “phenomenal” performance, Brown said.
Madick retired the side in the first inning and held the Tigers hitless until the fifth inning, when a single to center and a base on balls put two runners on base. Madick untangled the dangerous situation by forcing the next two batters to fly out and end the inning unscathed.
In the sixth inning, Princeton again came close to scoring. After Snyder doubled to start the inning, Beth Dalmut singled and advanced to second on the throw, putting two runners in scoring position with only one out. Madick struck out the next two batters to exit the inning safely.
“[Madick] had one of the best performances of her year,” Allard said. “She was up for this game, she knew how to pitch to them, she was well-prepared and she was on.”
—Staff writer Elyse N. Hanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.