The Red Sox began the 2008 season by flying halfway around the world to play a team from across the country, and they won in extra innings. Now that is a dramatic story-book opening to a “title defense.”
For the Harvard softball team, things were a little different.
The weekend got off to a bad start when Saturday’s double header against Cornell was postponed because of bad weather, and it only got worse when the Crimson (7-14, 0-2 Ivy) dropped its first two games of the year to Princeton (7-17, 4-0) yesterday—both by one run.
“We have 18 more Ivy league games,” captain Shelly Madick said. “We didn’t go undefeated last year and we know we are not going to go undefeated this year. We need to keep our intensity up for every game.”
PRINCETON 3, HARVARD 2
In the second of two close games yesterday it was the Tigers, again, that edged out a victory.
Despite giving up three runs, sophomore pitcher Dana Roberts—who has been working her way back from an injury—was impressive in her five innings, allowing only five hits, walking just two batters, and striking out three.
“She was feeling good and throwing well,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard said. “She pitched well enough to win, [but] we needed to get a couple more timely hits.”
Classmate Margaux Black came in to relieve Roberts for the final three outs. Black gave up just one hit and no runs. It was her second trip to the circle yesterday, as she also finished out the final 3 2/3 innings of the first game. In her first appearance Black threw confidently, giving up just one hit and no runs to the aggressive Princeton batters.
“[Black] has been having some really good outings...and has been coming in with a real focused approach,” Allard said.
The Crimson jumped out to an early 2-1 lead in the second when sophomore Stephanie Krysiak blasted an RBI double down the right field line to score Melissa Schellberg. A wild pitch to the next batter brought junior Bailey Vertovez in from the third. That was all the scoring Harvard could muster, though.
“We needed to be more efficient scoring runs,” Allard said. “We needed to step up a little more in the second game.”
The score stayed at 2-1 until the fifth, when Kelsey Quist connected for a two-RBI double to center field that proved to be the difference in the game.
“Coach said we can beat every single team if we play our best, and we can lose to every single team if we don’t—I think that’s true,” Madick said.
PRINCETON 5, HARVARD 4
The long-awaited Ivy opener went off without much of a bang. Despite getting more hits and drawing more walks than the Tigers, the key statistic for the Crimson was the 11 base runners it stranded on the bags.
Harvard’s inability to capitalize on those opportunities opened the door for Princeton to squeeze out its first one-run win of the day.
“If we had more timely hits we would have won the game by one run instead of losing by one run,” Allard said.
Trailing 5-2 in its final at-bat, it looked like the Crimson was finally going to get that timely hitting. With two outs and runners on second and third sophomore Jessica Pledger knocked a shot to right field that drove in two.
Two batters later the bases were loaded for Krysiak. But Krysiak lined out to third to end the rally.
“We had a lot of energy,” Madick said. “We all felt that we were going to win that game.”
The Tigers scored four of their five runs in the third inning. With Crimson ace Madick in the circle, Princeton unloaded two home runs—one and three-run shots. The dingers ended Madick’s outing as Black came in to pitch a scoreless game the rest of the way.
“I was getting behind in the count,” Madick said. “When you get behind in the count against good hitters it is hard to throw strikes and you’re trying to come back with strikes...and they capitalize.”
Harvard got on the board in the second thanks to freshman Ellen Macadam’s two-RBI single up the middle. Macadam had a team-best three hits in the Ivy double-header.
“Nerves play a huge part in the first half of a lot of people’s freshman season,” Madick said. “Now that she has some game experience under her belt she is coming into her own. I am not surprised at all that she is playing really well right now.”
—Staff writer Julia R. Senior can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.