A year ago the Harvard softball team was tied with Dartmouth for the top spot in the Ivy North Division heading into the final weekend of Ivy play. The 2008 edition of the four-game series, however, lacked much of the same pressure, since the Crimson has already locked up the top spot.
Without the same high stakes attached to the games, Harvard (22-20, 12-6 Ivy) dropped both contests to the Big Green (13-23, 9-9) on Saturday at Soldiers Field.
“They weren’t bad games, they weren’t sloppy games, it was just a lack of intensity,” captain Shelly Madick said.
“I don’t think we had a really focused performance on Saturday,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard said. “We really talked about having more of an effort on Sunday and a more focused effort.”
DARTMOUTH 4, HARVARD 3
After falling in the first game on Saturday, Harvard came out stronger in the nightcap, but a big sixth inning for Dartmouth forced the Crimson to take its second loss of the day.
“We were mostly disappointed in our lack of offensive pressure,” Madick said. “We knew that we could do more against their pitching.”
Harvard broke a scoreless tie in the top of the third when freshman Ellen Macadam singled to left with two outs and then stole second. Sophomore Lauren Murphy connected for a single that brought Macadam home.
The next batter, sophomore Jen Francis, followed that up with a third straight hit, a double to center that scored Murphy.
Dartmouth, who had just two hits in the first five innings against sophomore and starting pitcher Dana Roberts, found its rhythm in the sixth. The Big Green used a leadoff walk followed by a double, to jump-start a four-hit, four-run inning.
Harvard’s response to the Dartmouth surge was a one-run bottom half of the sixth that left the Crimson still trailing by a run with just one inning remaining.
Harvard started its final inning with Emily Henderson reaching base thanks to a Big Green error. Macadam laid down a sacrifice bunt and Murphy drew an intentional walk, putting runners on first and second with one out.
That was as dangerous as the Crimson would be, though, as Francis went down swinging and sophomore Jessica Pledger popped out to end the threat and the game.
“We didn’t really fight for the win the same way that we think we would have if it was a must-win game,” Madick said. “I think it was more of a disappointment in our overall focus and energy.”
DARTMOUTH 8, HARVARD 3
For four innings Harvard looked like the dominant defensive team that it had been recently. Crimson starter Madick threw four straight 1-2-3 innings, with no hits, no walks, and absolutely no Dartmouth offense to speak of.
That all changed in the fifth inning. The Big Green got a leadoff double from Alyssa Parker, who advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt from teammate Leigha Clarkson.
The next batter knocked a single to left field that drove Parker across the plate and opened up the floodgates for an inning that didn’t end until Dartmouth had scored seven times on six hits and one Harvard error.
Dartmouth center fielder Katie Chifcian contributed a two-RBI double in the rally, part of a 2-for-4, three RBI effort in the opener that led the Big Green attack.
“Sometimes in tough losses we say the ball has eyes,” Madick said. “They had a really solid double off of me...then they just had a couple bloop singles that found the holes and I couldn’t get out of it. Sometimes it goes like that.”
Harvard got off to a good start as Henderson got on base and scored on a Lauren Murphy single to left. Henderson was the only Crimson player to score until the seventh inning, when Harvard trailed 8-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, Macadam came to bat with one out and two runners in scoring position. The rookie connected for a two-RBI shot to left field, but two fly outs ended the game before the rally could gain momentum.
—Staff writer Julia R. Senior can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.