After beating Brown (8-20, 5-9 Ivy) by a combined tally of 35-4 in four games last year, the Harvard softball team snuck by the Bears, 2-1, in both of Friday’s home contests. Despite the close margin, the team’s performance was good enough to clinch the North Division title and a spot in the Ivy Championship Series for the Crimson (26-11, 13-1). Harvard will host the title tilts as it attempts to bring home a second straight conference championship
HARVARD 2, BROWN 1
The Crimson won game two but suffered a major loss in the process. Harvard entered the bottom of the third inning up 1-0 and had a runner on second base with two outs as junior Stephanie Regan stepped to the plate. Regan extended her hitting streak to eight games with a line drive through the gap in left center. The runner on second scored easily on the play and Regan rounded second with plans to go for a triple. She soon reconsidered though, and attempted to turn back to second. It was then when her knee gave, and she crumpled to the dirt.
“I was flying around the bases pretty fast, and my feet were just too fast for my knee,” Regan said.
Regan was tagged out to end the inning, but that was far from the Crimson’s biggest concern at the moment. Eventually, she was carried off the field and taken out of the game.
Regan, who tore an ACL before her freshman year, said that this injury doesn’t feel as bad. She was able to walk soon after the game and is hopeful she will be able to return to the lineup quickly after getting an MRI early this week. Before going down with the injury, the junior boasted the seventh-highest batting average in the league and was batting third in the lineup.
The Crimson’s first run of the game came in the second inning when sophomore Kasey Lange scored on a passed ball.
Brown got its sole run of the game in the sixth inning on a single that scored Stephanie Thompson, who had started off the inning with a double to the fence.
In the seventh, the Bears fought to find an equalizing score. With two outs in the inning, the visitors had a runner on third as Thompson stepped up to the plate once more. Sophomore Laura Ricciardone intentionally walked Thompson and got the game’s final out on a grounder to first, capping the 2-1 victory.
HARVARD 2, BROWN 1
Game one started with a premier matchup of two of the Ivy’s best players. With two outs in the top of the first inning, Brown’s Thompson, who is the sixth most-difficult hitter to strike out in the country, stepped up to face Harvard pitcher Rachel Brown, who is sixth in the country in strikeouts and had already added a K to her tally earlier in the inning.
Thompson won the battle decisively with a bomb to left center that put the Bears up, 1-0, but Harvard’s ace won the war. After surrendering the solo home run, Brown didn’t give up another hit in the ballgame. Thompson later fouled out to the catcher and drew two intentional walks. Brown struck out 14 more victims on the day.
On the other side of the ball, Brown’s Jessica Cherness was nearly as effective. Through five innings, the freshman had given up just five hits and no runs. But the Crimson changed that in the sixth.
After a runner was left stranded in scoring position in the fifth, Harvard converted on its opportunity in the bottom of the sixth with a single from sophomore Allison Scott to score senior Eve Rosenbaum, who was on second after stealing a base. The run evened the score at one.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Crimson had a runner on third but failed to bring her home, sending the game into extra innings.
Neither pitcher surrendered a hit in the eighth or ninth innings, but after Brown retired the side in the top of the 10th, Cherness was forced to face the top of the Harvard order, beginning with senior Jane Alexander. Alexander had reached safely in 16 of the previous 18 contests but had yet to reach base Friday. That changed quickly as she drilled a ball over the center field fence for a walk-off home run, her second round-tripper of the year, giving Harvard the 2-1 win.
“Rachel was throwing a great game, and we put her out there for longer than she needed to be…so I knew we needed a run to get her off the mound and win the game already,” Alexander said. “I was thinking single, but it went out.”
—Staff writer Jacob D. H. Feldman can be reached at email@example.com.