Sophomore Rachel Brown, shown here in earlier action, had her second no-hitter of her career on Sunday. Brown is not even halfway through her career and has cemented her place in Harvard’s record books.
Eleven days ago, sophomore Rachel Brown pitched the game of her collegiate career—a no-hit, no-walk performance in Harvard softball’s Ivy opener at Princeton.
And on Sunday, she did it again.
Brown’s second no-hitter in as many weekends—this one another walk-free performance that gave the Crimson a 3-0 win over Columbia—may not have been so surprising this time around, but it was no less impressive.
“Especially in softball, it’s so easy to just give up a little bloop hit with a little bit of bad luck,” senior Dana Roberts said. “To throw two [no-hitters] against Princeton and Columbia, who aren’t weak teams by any means, really shows a level of focus [that] shows just how strong Rachel is…It’s really an outstanding accomplishment.”
With Harvard a bit discouraged after a 5-4 loss in Saturday’s second game against Penn—its first loss to the Quakers since April 23, 2006—Brown put her squad back on the right track from the get-go in Sunday’s opener.
Though a first-inning fielding error meant that a perfect game was never in the cards, the sophomore didn’t let up. She struck out the side in the second and fifth innings on her way to a 12-strikeout performance and didn’t allow another baserunner in the game.
But through five innings of play, Lions rookie Maureen O’Kane matched Brown pitch for pitch, taking a no-hitter of her own into the fifth and keeping the scoreboard blank until the bottom of the sixth.
The Crimson offense came through in that inning, leading off with a pair of singles that chased O’Kane from the game and eventually staking Brown to a 3-0 lead with an inning to go.
“It’s always nerve-wracking the last inning, trying not to spoil it,” the sophomore admitted. “It [was] definitely running through my head.”
And Brown delivered, closing out the contest with an emphatic strikeout to seal her second near-perfect game.
“She was hitting her spots especially well,” said senior Jessica Pledger, who caught both of Brown’s no-hitters. “She’s able to stay really calm on the mound—she has a lot of confidence on the mound in what she throws.”
But while the sophomore hurler’s two no-hitters were nearly identical, she took her consistency to a new level this weekend.
After her no-no at Princeton, Brown struggled the next day at Cornell, giving up six runs in just 2.1 innings of work against the South Division’s top squad.
She followed that performance up with a complete-game win at Holy Cross on Tuesday, but still fell short of her usual standards, again giving up six runs—including a fifth-inning grand slam.
This weekend, Brown put those struggles behind her.