In the middle portion of its annual spring break trip to California, the Harvard softball team (9-8) split a pair of games with an opening win against Bethune-Cookman (9-18) and a loss to Loyola Marymount (14-10) on Wednesday.
.500 and .111. The Crimson’s batting average with runners in scoring position was the difference between its decisive 9-3 win over B-CU and its 6-3 loss against LMU.
“In the [B-CU] game we rallied hard and put some things together,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard said. “And then in the [LMU] game we had some people up in key situations, and they just didn’t come through.… It’s a good sign that we’re getting so many runners on base, but we just need to be consistently tougher with runners in scoring position.”
LOYOLA MARYMOUNT 6, HARVARD 3
With bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning, the Crimson looked as if it might battle back from a 4-0 deficit to take its first lead of the game. But Loyola Marymount rookie Rachael Farrington got freshman Catherine Callaway looking to notch her fifth strikeout of the game and preserved the Lions lead, 4-3.
Loyola Marymount rallied for two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to extend its lead, which was all the run support Farrington would need en route to her first collegiate win, 6-3.
The Crimson fell behind early as junior ace Laura Ricciardone surrendered a grand slam to rookie right fielder Amanda Dirks in the bottom of the first inning. Harvard is not used to playing from behind with Ricciardone on the mound, as she has already recorded complete game shutouts against Texas Tech and Louisiana State University this season.
“[Ricciardone] needs to work through those tough situations, and I know she’s capable of doing it, [so] that’s why I left her in,” Allard said. “Facing that adversity and trying to get to a better spot is what preseason is all about.”
After the first inning, Ricciardone settled in and held the Lions to scoreless in the next three frames to hold the Crimson deficit to four.
Despite having runners on in every inning but the first, Harvard did not break through and score until the fifth inning.
The Crimson and Lions each finished with seven hits in the game, but Loyola Marymount outhit Harvard with runners in scoring position. The Lions scored five runs with two outs, while holding the Crimson to no two-out runs.
In the top of the fifth inning, a string of errors by Loyola Marymount let Harvard back into the game. After junior catcher Katherine Appelbe reached first on an error, back-to-back singles by captain Shelbi Olson and junior second baseman Katherine Lantz loaded the bases for the Crimson. Two consecutive errors by Lions’ infielders allowed Appelbe and Olson to score and cut Loyola Marymount’s lead in half.
The Lions committed three of its four total errors in the fifth inning.
A grounder off the bat of junior first baseman Adrienne Hume scored Lantz from third and brought Harvard within one. Although the Crimson reloaded the bases, the team stranded all three runners and squandered its best opportunity to take the lead.
HARVARD 9, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 4
The Crimson rallied for three runs in three different innings to lead B-CU by as many as nine runs in its first game on Wednesday afternoon.
Harvard jumped to an early 3-0 lead on a string of hits in the top of the first inning. Three consecutive singles by Lantz, junior shortstop Emily Gusse, and Lange put the Crimson on the board. Hume followed with a double to left to score Gusse and move Lange to third. Lange crossed the plate for Harvard’s third run of the inning on a fielder’s choice.
Lange went three-for-three with three RBI’s and two runs scored to pace the Crimson offense. With a hit in both games on Wednesday afternoon, Lange extended her early-season hitting streak to fourteen games.
“I’ve been focusing on putting good swings on good pitches,” Lange said. “My goal is to be a consistently tough out for the other team and I plan on keeping that mentality going into Ivy League play.”
Sophomore Morgan Groom retired the first 12 batters she faced, keeping the Wildcats hitless until the fifth inning. Groom finished the afternoon with a season-best nine strikeouts.
B-CU freshman Sabrina Anguiano surrendered three walks to set up another scoring opportunity for the Crimson in the third. A single by freshman catcher Lindsey Hagberg and an error by the Wildcats’ center fielder capped the three-run inning for Harvard.
Although the Crimson finished with only one more hit than B-CU in the game, Harvard was much more successful at manufacturing runs with an average of .500 with RISP compared to the Wildcats average of .273.
Walks continued to plague B-CU’s pitching, as freshman reliever Bailey Conner put three Crimson on before giving up a two-RBI double to Lange that extended Harvard’s lead to nine.
The Wildcats fought back in the bottom of the sixth with a series of hits. After two quick singles, senior second baseman Kelsey Rodney hit a double to center to knock in both runs. Still with no outs in the inning, freshman third baseman Kaitlin Alamprese launched a home run over the center field fence to tighten the score, 9-4.
Junior Gabrielle Ruiz came on to pitch in relief. After a passed ball and error by shortstop Gusse allowed two B-CU runners to reach base, Ruiz battled back with a strikeout and two forced groundouts to halt the Lions scoring in the sixth.
B-CU threatened again with first and third and just one out in the bottom of the seventh, but a strikeout and infield pop-up ended the team’s hopes and sealed a 9-4 victory for the Crimson.