Junior first baseman Danielle Kerper had a stnadout performance in the Mercer Nissan Classic championship game against the Wright State Raiders, driving in four runs with two two-run singles. Junior Shelly Mattick pitched five innings in relief, allowing
Under the sweltering Southern sun, the Harvard softball team set the opposition ablaze, putting up a 4-1 record to claim the championship of the Mercer Nissan Invitational at Sikes Field in Macon, Ga., last weekend.
After a tough 1-0 loss to Winthrop (32-11)—despite six one-hit, shutout innings from junior Shelly Madick—the Crimson (8-6) rallied to knock off Mercer (7-28) and Wright State (12-16) in round-robin play and again in the semifinal and championship games, respectively.
“We had a lot of things come together,” head coach Jenny Allard said. “We were really tested this weekend and we showed we’re really capable.”
The weekend victories also earned Madick honors as the Ivy League Pitcher of the Week. Madick allowed only one earned run and struck out 11 over 16 innings in three appearances. Freshman outfielder Stephanie Krysiak was named co-Rookie of the Week after racking up a .568 batting average, nine hits, and five runs during the five-game weekend.
The wins also pushed Harvard’s record over .500—it was 4-5 going into the weekend—as it prepared to begin its Ivy schedule.
HARVARD 5, WRIGHT STATE 4
There’s no question that junior first baseman Danielle Kerper has the Raiders’ number. After going 4-for-4 in the round-robin game against Wright State, she followed up with a 2-for-3 game with four RBI to solidify Harvard’s 5-4 win in the championship game.
“She came up big for the team,” Allard said. “She’s made some great adjustments at the plate and it paid off. She drove in a number of game-winning runs for us.”
Freshman Dana Roberts started the game on the mound, pitching two innings of two-run ball. Madick finished off the pitching with five innings of relief, striking out five and earning her second win in as many days.
Twice Wright State reduced the Crimson lead to one, but could never tie it up. In the bottom of the seventh, the Raiders’ Allison Cox led off with a walk, but Harvard sophomore catcher Hayley Bock fired a quick throw down to first to pick off pinch runner Jacqueline Macy.
Madick got the last two batters to pop out and ground out to retire the side and lock up the championship title.
HARVARD 1, MERCER 0
The semifinal game proved to be an old-fashioned pitchers’ duel, as Bears hurler Danielle Rossman’s one run through six innings couldn’t match the combined three-hit shutout from Madick and Roberts in Harvard’s 1-0 triumph.
Senior Lauren Brown scored the only run of the game in the third, driving a one-out double to left and coming in to score on a Krysiak single up the middle.
Mercer threatened in the second inning, loading the bases with no outs with two singles and a walk. But Madick got April Cunningham to foul out to first and punched out the next two hitters, Jena Ellis and Kelley Bretscher, to escape the bases-loaded jam.
HARVARD 9, WRIGHT STATE 8
Harvard came out swinging, putting up three runs in the first inning of its 9-8 win over Wright State. But the game was far from an easy victory.
The Raiders tied the game in the third on a three-run home run by Kristen Bradshaw. Then they tacked on four more in the fourth with a pair of two-run singles from Bradshaw and Briauna Birl.
The Crimson chipped away with a pair of runs in the fourth and the sixth and entered its final at-bat down 8-7. Krysiak and senior captain Julia Kidder tied the game with back-to-back doubles. An intentional walk to freshman Laura Murphy gave way to Kerper’s game-winning single to left, bringing in Kidder.
Freshman Dana Roberts picked up the win with 1 2/3 hitless innings in relief of sophomore Bailey Vertovez and freshman Margaux Black. Kerper led the offense with a 4-for-4 day at the plate with two RBI.
HARVARD 3, MERCER 1
Following the heart-breaking loss to Winthrop, Harvard rallied in the second game of the day’s doubleheader, soundly defeating Mercer, 3-1.
“That loss was really a turning point,” Allard said. “We were going to do what it takes to win games.”
Capitalizing on a pair of Bear errors in the fifth, the Crimson moved Krysiak and Kidder into scoring position and Murphy delivered them home with a single up the middle to take the lead for good, 2-1.
Brown drove home Bock for an insurance run in the seventh. That was all Black would need to capture the win, pitching four innings and giving up one run. Junior Amanda Watkins and Roberts closed out the Harvard win.
WINTHROP 1, HARVARD 0
Winthrop ruined a Madick gem, manufacturing a run in extra innings to defeat Harvard, 1-0, in the tournament opener.
The Eagles’ Mallory Hogan reached on a fielder’s choice and advanced on single by Sarah Magee. She came around to score on an error in the outfield.
Madick pitched six innings, allowing one hit and no walks while registering three strikeouts. Roberts left runners on second and third to escape the seventh, but two Winthrop pitchers combined on a nine-hit shuout to hand the Crimson the loss.
Kidder went 3-for-4, while Brown and Krysiak each had a pair of hits.