The Harvard softball team stretched its win streak to seven games yesterday, taking both games of its double-header against Holy Cross. The Crimson was scheduled to face the Crusaders on Tuesday, but bad whether delayed the match-up until yesterday. In the first contest Harvard landed on the winning side of a close 2-1 margin, and in the second, the Crimson bats led the way to an 8-0 victory.
“It was great to get two more wins in, going in against Yale and it just keeps our momentum on an upward spin,” captain Shelly Madick said. “Hopefully it will carry us through.”
HARVARD 8, HOLY CROSS 0
After a close first game, Harvard did not wait long to start scoring in the second match-up. In the top of the first, freshman leadoff hitter Emily Henderson drew a walk and then promptly stole second for her 17th stolen base of the year. Two batters later junior Hayley Bock knocked an RBI double that scored Henderson. Just like that the Crimson was on the board.
Bock crossed the plate later in the first when sophomore Melissa Shellberg connected for a two-out RBI single.
“When [Henderson] gets on base as a leadoff it is definitely a spark,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard said. “We came out much more aggressive in the second game with much more fire.”
After scoring a run each in the second and third innings Harvard put the game out of reach in the fourth when it managed four runs.
First up was Lauren Murphy, who in her previous at bat in the second crushed her 5th homerun of the year. Murphy, and then junior Bailey Vertovez, drew walks to put runners on first and second. A fielder’s choice, a wild pitch, and another base on balls, brought Bock to the plate with the bases loaded. Bock came through once again with a clutch 2 RBI double that brought Vertovez and Henderson home.
Sophomore Jen Francis connected for a ground out to second that was enough to bring freshman Ellen Macadam across the plate. With two outs sophomore Jessica Pledger cracked an RBI single that finished off the Crimson’s scoring.
Although Harvard managed eight runs, it would have only needed one to win as senior pitcher Amanda Watkins tossed four perfect innings. Watkins was unstoppable, retiring each of the 12 batters she faced while giving up no hits, no walks, and no runs.
“[Watkins] was relaxed on the mound. She was focused on her technique,” Allard said. “Instead of focusing on getting outs or throwing strikes she was focused on making her pitches work and I think she was in a very good zone today.”
“Her drop ball was killer today,” Madick added. “I think she had a first pitch strike on all but two of the batters.”
Vertovez took over in the circle after the fourth and despite surrendering a hit and a walk, held Holy Cross scoreless for the fifth and final inning. The game was cut short because the Crimson’s eight run lead was enough to apply the “Mercy Rule.”
HARVARD 2, HOLY CROSS 1
In the first game of the day Harvard came out admittedly missing some the intensity that had helped it build up a five-game winning streak.
“It was nice to know that we could win even on an off day,” Madick said. “We can hold them to one run all game long and come through in the end when we really need to.”
After scoring in the bottom of the first the Crusaders clung to a 1-0 lead until the Crimson finally got an offensive spark in the sixth.
Vertovez, who had two of Harvard’s five hits in the game, got the inning going with a leadoff single. Two consecutive defensive errors, followed by an out at the plate brought Bock up to bat with sophomore Stephanie Krysiak at second and Henderson at third.
Bock found a pitch she liked put it in play for a single that scored Krysiak and Henderson, the Crimson’s only two runs of the game.
“Even though we were a little flat the first six innings of the game, somehow we all knew that we were going to win that game and we were going to pull it out,” Bock said. “When I was on deck and I knew I was going to have runners in scoring position I just knew that I needed to focus and see the ball, and hit it hard, and be the one to at least push one run across.”
Captain Shelly Madick made sure that the one-run margin would be enough for the win. Madick, who entered the game in the second inning to replace sophomore Dana Roberts, shut the Holy Cross batters down, giving up just one hit in six innings of work. Although Madick only threw four strikeouts, she consistently forced the Crusaders to ground out and fly out.
“I have a lot of confidence in my defense,” Madick said. “My goal was to get ahead, throw a lot of strikes, and just trust my defense.”
—Staff writer Julia R. Senior can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.