Softball Takes Two in Opening Tourney

Crimson loses to Lehigh, Michigan State, before sweeping St. Joseph's

The Harvard softball team kicked off its 2007 season by traveling to Florida to compete in the Plant City Tournament this weekend. The Crimson (2-2) played four games in two days, facing Lehigh (2-7) and Michigan State (7-6) on Saturday and St. Joseph’s (0-4) in a doubleheader yesterday.

After losing both contests on Saturday, Harvard turned around its results and shut out St. Joseph’s in both games.

“This is our team right here,” captain Julia Kidder said. “We worked hard and made adjustments to get to where we are today.”

The Crimson will travel to Las Vegas to compete in the Eller Media Stadium Classic next weekend.

HARVARD 9,

ST. JOSEPH’S 0

The Crimson concluded the tournament by defeating St. Joseph’s, 9-0, in a game that, thanks to the mercy rule, only lasted five innings.

Harvard’s victory was anchored by a strong pitching performance. Junior Amanda Watkins started and allowed just one hit and no runs in four innings of work. Freshman Margaux Black pitched the fifth and final inning.

The strength of the Crimson’s pitching was mirrored in its offense.

Freshman Lauren Murphy blasted a grand slam and added a solo home run in a 3-for-3 day at the plate.

Junior Danielle Kerper drove in two runs with a two-out double.

HARVARD 8, ST. JOSEPH’S 0

In the first game of the doubleheader, sophomore Bailey Vertovez struck out five en route to delivering an abbreviated no-hitter in her season debut.

Vertovez’s effort, coupled with more solid hitting, ended the by mercy rule in just five innings.

“It was a shining day for Harvard softball,” junior Shelly Madick said. “It was a good turnaround.”

MICHIGAN STATE 8, HARVARD 2

The Crimson started Saturday’s second game strong, scoring twice in the first inning on a combination of hits and Spartan errors.

Unfortunately, Harvard was unable to score again while Michigan State rallied for eight unanswered runs.

Harvard’s bats were not as quiet as the score implies. The Crimson’s greatest threat came in the fifth inning when it loaded the bases, but the Spartans got out of the jam without giving up any runs.

“Saturday’s games weren’t our best,” Madick said. “Michigan State was the strongest team we played all weekend.”

LEHIGH 9, HARVARD 0

In its season opener, the Crimson suffered a tough shutout loss to Lehigh, 9-0. The game remained scoreless until the fourth inning, when the Mountain Hawks finally broke through.

While it was Harvard’s first game of the season, it was Lehigh’s sixth. The Crimson has not had much opportunity to practice on infield dirt but has instead been confined to the stadium turf inside the bubble. The transition to outdoors proved to be a difficult one.

“The first day took us a while to get our nerves out” Kidder said. “We were not used to the hops of the dirt after practicing in the bubble all winter.”

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