Despite splitting its opening Ivy League series with Cornell on Friday, the Harvard softball team (15-8, 3-1 Ivy) bounced back to sweep Princeton (5-18, 2-2) on Saturday at the Class of 1895 Field in Princeton, N.J.
The Crimson took down the Tigers, 6-5 and 8-0, respectively, in the doubleheader, moving to a 3-1 record in the conference to keep pace with Cornell (12-11, 3-1).
“The loss against Cornell showed us that every game is going to be tough and that we need all aspects of our game firing at the same time to keep ourselves in every game,” co-captain Rachel Brown said. “We let the loss fire us up for the next day in the games against Princeton.”
With the back-to-back wins over Princeton, the Crimson improves to 15-8, as it moves deeper into its conference schedule.
“We really used the games against Princeton to grow, and to continue to tackle some small goals on the road towards our greater goal of winning Ivies,” co-captain Whitney Shaw said. “The weekend was crucial to build our confidence back up and show…what Harvard softball is capable of this season.”
HARVARD 8, PRINCETON 0
With a tightly contested 6-5 win over Princeton under its belt, Harvard completed the sweep thanks to an offensive outpouring and strength at the mound. Sophomore pitcher Laura Ricciardone recorded six strikeouts in the contest and only allowed one Tigers runner to get past second base.
“[Riccardionne] pitched her heart out in game two,” Shaw said. “She took a team that had just almost come back from a six-run deficit in the first game and shut them out. She showed a lot of fight on the mound.”
It took an inning for the Crimson to get on the board, but in the top of the second, Crimson junior Kassy Shiotani reached home after a wild pitch, giving Harvard a lead it didn’t relinquish for the remainder of the contest.
Following the run in the second inning, junior Ashley Heritage scored on a Princeton error to increase the lead to two. RBI singles from sophomores Kasey Lange and Shelbi Olson gave Harvard the 4-0 advantage.
The seventh inning saw the most offense in the game for the Crimson, which tacked on four more off of another RBI from Lange, an RBI from freshman Katherine Appelbe, and a two-run single from freshman Adrienne Hume. The four runs sealed Harvard’s 8-0 thrashing of the Tigers and its Saturday sweep.
HARVARD 6, PRINCETON 5
Following a tough 10-8 loss to Cornell, Harvard looked poised to take the first game of a doubleheader against Princeton handily, as the visiting Crimson scored four runs in the third inning off of a grand slam off the bat of Shaw.
Senior Jane Alexander widened the lead in the fifth after reaching first on an error, taking second on a steal, and scoring on an RBI single from Lange.
The Tigers didn’t go down easily though, striking back in the bottom of the fifth and closing the lead to two off of a home run from Alex Peyton that plated three Princeton players.
Lange, who had two RBIs in the contest, and Alexander, who finished 3-for-4 with a pair of steals, paired up again for another run in the seventh. With one out, the sophomore hit a sacrifice fly that brought the senior home and gave Harvard the three-run lead.
In the bottom of the final inning, the Tigers drew within one after Cara Worden slammed a two-run single. But Brown was able to end the game from the mound, garnering her 12th strikeout of the game and ninth win of the season.
Offensively, Shaw led the way with a team-high four RBIs. In the win, seven of the Crimson’s starters recorded at least one hit.
“Princeton came out fighting…and we learned that no game is over until the last out is made,” Shaw said. “At any time, the pace of the game can switch to the other team, which is why we need to play…from the top of the first to the bottom of the seventh.”
—Staff writer B. Marjorie Gullick can be reached at email@example.com.