The Harvard softball team concluded its five-game season-opening trip to Florida on a sour note, falling, 4-2, in Sunday’s finale of the 2012 USF Under Armour Invitational to tournament host University of South Florida. After winning its first two games Friday, the Crimson left the 17-team invitational, held at Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla., at 2-3 overall after dropping its final three contests.
“We looked at the competition, and everyone was close,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard said. “We could have lost all five games, and we could have won all five games.”
SOUTH FLORIDA 4, HARVARD 2
The Bulls (14-3) took control of Sunday’s game early, scoring a run in each of the first two innings off Harvard sophomore Laura Ricciardone before tacking on two more in the fourth.
The Crimson’s (2-3) offense was limited throughout by USF sophomore Sara Nevins, who tallied eight strikeouts and allowed only one earned run in 6 2/3 innings of work.
Harvard did have its chances against Nevins, loading the bases with no outs in the fifth inning before Nevins struck out three consecutive batters to retire the side. In the sixth inning, the Crimson’s first two hitters again reached base safely but did not advance beyond second base, as Nevins worked her way out of another tight spot.
Harvard added a consolation run in the seventh inning, but the final result was never in doubt.
“We had very high expectations going into this weekend, and I don’t think we met those,” co-captain pitcher Rachel Brown said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement, but there were a lot of positive things that we saw as well. We were hitting the ball well, just right at players.”
“We created a lot of opportunities for ourselves [this weekend], which is really exciting, but we left  runners on base,” Allard said. “What we need to do next weekend is begin to capitalize on some of those opportunities.”
MIAMI (OHIO) 2, HARVARD 1
In its second contest Saturday afternoon, Harvard fell, 2-1, in extra innings to Miami (Ohio).
The two teams were at a stalemate for most of the game; Brown carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and the Crimson lineup did not record more than one hit in any inning. With no runs scored by either team in the first seven frames, the contest continued into extra innings.
Senior shortstop Jane Alexander’s RBI single in the top of the eighth looked to be a game-winner for Harvard, given the manner in which Brown had shut down the RedHawks (1-4) over the previous seven frames. But Miami managed to rally in the bottom half of the inning, tying the game on a wild pitch before claiming the victory with a walk-off single by Shanyn McIntyre.
“It was a game where we had a lot of opportunities, but things didn’t fall our way,” Brown said. “It was the most frustrating of the five games. Things didn’t quite click for us. We were getting a lot of runners on base, but we weren’t stringing rallies together.”
WESTERN MICHIGAN 3, HARVARD 1