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.