Repeated rain delays forced the Harvard softball team to take a mid-week trip down the winding roads to Ithaca to play a double-header with Cornell that was originally slated for last Saturday. The Crimson dropped the first game but pulled out a win in the second to salvage its first Ivy win of the year.
The win is not just significant because it is the first league victory, it is also the first time the senior class has beaten the Big Red.
“We just wanted to come out firing,” sophomore Jen Francis said. “We just wanted to come out really hard. It was really exciting when we beat them.”
HARVARD 4, CORNELL 1
The second game of the day was a homerun derby of sorts. The two teams combined for five runs, all of which came courtesy of the long-ball.
Although it was a windy day, Harvard coach Jenny Allard gave all the credit to the batters.
“It was windy but they were hard hits,” Allard said. “It was an offensive battle.”
The first blast flew off the bat of sophomore Jen Francis in the first inning. After freshman Emily Henderson drew a lead off walk, freshman Ellen Macadam and junior Hayley Bock each struck out. That brought up Francis who went deep for the two-out, two RBI shot.
“She was really throwing up on the outside corner,” Francis said. “I just waited for a pitch and she threw it right on the outside corner and I just hit it over.”
Although Francis’s bomb gave Harvard all the runs it would need for the win, Bock and freshman Caitlin Bowers provided the wiggle-room.
Bock hit a two-out solo shot deep to center field in the third inning and Bowers tacked on the final Crimson run with a fence-clearing hit to left field in the seventh.
Cornell got in on the action with a fourth inning homerun—the Big Red’s lone score of the game.
In addition to homers, Harvard has sophomore pitcher Dana Roberts to thank for the win. Roberts had a strong spring break and continued to perform well yesterday. The hurler managed five innings and gave up just one run.
“She really stepped up for us and was very effective,” Allard said. “She was keeping the ball low on them, mixing her speed, hitting her spots, she had a great performance.”
CORNELL 8, HARVARD 5
A three-run win on paper looks comfortable enough. But Cornell knows it was anything but easy.
The Big Red took a commanding 6-0 lead after a five-run third. A lead-off double set up a two-run homer to center field. Cornell followed that up with a walk and two singles before Harvard starting pitcher Bailey Vertovez left the circle, replaced by sophomore Margaux Black.
Black worked her way out of the inning giving up an RBI single and another unearned run before keeping the Big Red scoreless in the final three innings.
“She has been outstanding in relief for us,” Allard said.
The Crimson batters then went to work narrowing the gap.
In the top of the fourth Harvard put up three runs to cut the margin in half. Freshmen Caitlin Bowers knocked an RBI double to center field and senior Danielle Kerper drove in two more runs with a two-out homer.
The Crimson scored two more times in the fifth and pulled within one of the home team. The runs came from a Macadam homerun and a Francis RBI ground out that brought sophomore Lauren Murphy across the plate.
In the top of the seventh Harvard came to bat trailing 8-5 with three outs left to work with. Henderson and Macadam, got the inning started with a pair of singles. With runners on first and second and no one out the Crimson looked prepared to rally. But then a strike out, pop out, and ground out killed the threat and sent Harvard away with its third straight loss.
“We did a lot of good things in the first game,” captain Shelly Madick said. “We were down 6-0 and came back…It takes a lot of heart to do that.”
—Staff Writer Julia R. Senior can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.