Coming off of an impressive defeat of No. 23 Louisiana State at the Purple and Gold Challenge, the Harvard women’s softball team (11-11) traveled to San Diego to take part in the San Diego Classic II tournament held Mar. 15-17. Though the Crimson went a disappointing 2-3 on the trip, the team used the early losses as teaching points to help spark its previously dormant offense, picking up a pair of wins as Harvard prepared for the second half of its west coast swing and the start of its Ivy League play.
SAN DIEGO STATE 3, HARVARD 0
In its final game at San Diego State (24-9), Harvard got a second look at the home team after suffering a 10-6 loss two days prior. By the fifth inning, Harvard had gone 17 straight innings without allowing a run in the tournament.
The Crimson defense then cracked, as freshman pitcher Taylor Cabe allowed two earned runs. The freshman received little support from the bats, as Harvard’s offense was stymied on the afternoon. Despite only allowing four hits, Cabe suffered the loss and dropped to 2-4 on the season.
While Katherine Lantz and Catherine Callaway each recorded two hits, the rest of the Crimson’s offense struggled. Despite having scored 24 runs in the past three games, Harvard couldn’t cross home plate.
The Crimson managed only six hits in the game, and two homeruns from SDSU proved to be the difference on the day.
HARVARD 6, TEXAS-TECH 0
In its second-to-last game of the tournament, Harvard drew Texas Tech (27-9), its opponent from the 2012 NCAA Regional Tournament in Seattle.
Though the Red Raiders had already played twice as many games as the Crimson this year, Harvard still managed to come together and find some team chemistry in San Diego. With a Texas Tech team hungry for revenge, the Crimson delivered a convincing performance and a repeat of the result from two years ago.
“We were coming off of two losses the day before…and we have a history with Texas Tech,” pitcher Laura Ricciardone said. “It’s always competitive when we play them, so the team was really excited to have a very competitive opponent.”
On no days rest, Ricciardone returned to the circle and continued her dominance from the mound. The junior posted the complete-game shutout to improve to 4-3 on the year.
“Our defense was incredible and stayed on point,” Ricciardone said. “Our offense made some good adjustments, and we were firing on all cylinders.
Allowing only three hits and no walks, Ricciardone was able to compile a streak of 13 scoreless innings in less than 24 hours. After junior Adrienne Hume put Harvard on the board in the first inning with a single to center, the Crimson hung onto the narrow lead until the fifth inning.
Harvard’s offensive juggernaut then burst for five runs, thanks to RBIs from Shelbi Olson and Kasey Lange. Hume then added her second RBI of the day, and Savannah Bradley then followed suit by driving in two runs on her own.
HARVARD 12, TEXAS-ARLINGTON 1
Coming off two straight losses to open its California trip, the Harvard team looked completely different as it took the field for its second day of action. But after Ricciardone gave up a run in the first to Texas-Arlington (14-18), it seemed like it would be more of the same for the Crimson.
That one run would prove harmless, though, as Ricciardone dominated the rest of the game. Throwing a complete game, the junior allowed only four hits the rest in the remaining six frames. Ricciardone moved to 3-3 on the season, as she struck out six batters to earn the win.
From there, Harvard’s offense exploded. In the second, Lantz scored on a single by Callaway, opening the floodgates. Bradley then drove in a run on a sac fly, and Harvard marched in four runs.
The Crimson showed the promise of what its offense could be this season, as the team added eight more runs. Lantz was the star with four hits and an RBI, and Emily Gusse and Olson each drove in two runs.
SAN DIEGO STATE 10, HARVARD 6
Harvard faced off against the home squad in a quick turnaround from its opening loss. The Aztecs came out firing on all cylinders, as SDSU scored eight runs in just two innings. Ricciardone struggled in the circle, giving up six earned runs and eight hits in only 1.2 innings pitched.
Harvard chipped away at the lead, responding with two runs of its own in the second. Smart base running and heads up softball helped easy the score, as Hume and freshman Lindsey Hagberg crossed the plate.
The defense quickly tightened up for the Crimson, as they held the Aztecs scoreless for the next four innings. More small-ball in the fourth inning added four more runs for Harvard including RBIs from Lange and Callaway.
In only her second time in the circle this year, junior Gabrielle Ruiz came in and pitched well for the Crimson. The junior went 5.1 innings, striking out four and allowing only two earned runs.
Nonetheless, down just two runs heading into the seventh, SDSU managed to respond, putting Harvard away for good. The Crimson suffered its second loss of the day, as it couldn’t rally the bats one last time.
LONG BEACH STATE 6, HARVARD 5
In its, the Crimson squared off against Long Beach State (23-9). After the second inning, the scoreboard read 3-0 Harvard, as Katherine Applebee and Gusse got their bats going early.
Despite the early offensive production, Harvard quickly surrendered the lead, giving up three runs in the ensuing inning. Cabe only allowed two earned runs and nine hits in the circle, but the Crimson struggled defensively.
“Taylor Cabe coming in as a freshman has had an immediate impact,” Ricciardone said. “She’s a hard worker and a competitor.”
Cabe pitched all six innings for Harvard, doing her best to give the team a chance. Though she recorded two errors, the real problem was Harvard’s offensive woes.
The Crimson’s bats disappeared, and Harvard went scoreless for the next four frames. Down, 6-3, heading into the final inning, Lange doubled to left centerfield, advancing to third on a throw and driving in classmate Olson.
“Kasey (Lange) has been a great leader,” sophomore pitcher Morgan Groom said. “She was our leader last year and again this year. She shows it with her bat.”
On an error by the shortstop, Lantz was then able to advance Lange home for the run. Nonetheless, down only one run, Harvard failed to complete the rally.
Junior Amanda Hansen recorded the win for LBSU, as Harvard’s offense was unable to find any more production in the final frame.
—Staff writer Andrew Farber can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.