Nearly two weeks after the Harvard softball team’s series with Princeton was interrupted because of rain, the Crimson finally closed out the Tigers on Thursday with a pair of victories. With these wins, Harvard (23-11, 9-0 Ivy) halted Princeton’s (14-22, 6-7) three-game win streak and maintained its undefeated record in the Ivy League.
It was certainly a wild couple of days for the Crimson. On Monday, the Ivy League told the team they would not travel to Princeton to make up the games. On Tuesday, the league reversed its decision. But the last-minute scheduling change did not throw off Harvard’s game.
Behind junior ace Laura Ricciardone’s fifth shutout of the season, the Crimson were able to pull off a 1-0 victory over the Tigers in the first game of the day.
The Harvard offense came to life in the second game with two home runs in the fifth inning to propel the Crimson past Princeton, 5-1.
“This team has proven that we are mentally tough in the face of adversity,” Ricciardone said. “Our focus is on controlling the controllables and playing Harvard softball every time we go out on the field.”
HARVARD 1, PRINCETON 0
Left in limbo for two weeks after rain suspended the Crimson’s opening game with the Tigers, the two teams resumed play in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After pitching three scoreless innings to begin the first contest two weeks ago, Ricciardone picked up right where she left off by retiring the first six batters she faced.
“We wanted to go out on defense and have quick three-up, three-down, to let the offense put some runs on the board,” Ricciardone said. “[We] started with an attack mindset pre-game that allowed us to execute.”
With two outs in the sixth inning, junior right fielder Andrea Del Conte and co-captain Kasey Lange advanced to second and third on a double steal. During the next at bat, Del Conte came home on an error by the catcher to score the lone run of the game.
“It was going to come down to one hit or one big play and we had [junior Katherine] Lantz up and we had great speed on the bases,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard said.
This misstep was the only one of the night by Princeton sophomore Shanna Christian, who scattered eight hits and picked up eight strikeouts over the course of both parts of the suspended game.
The Tigers threatened in the bottom of the sixth with two runners on, but Ricciardone struck out junior catcher Cara Worden to end the inning. After two quick outs in Princeton’s final inning, the Tigers again rallied to put the tying run on second and the winning run on first.
However, Ricciardone ended Princeton’s hopes in the same fashion as she did the sixth with an inning-ending strikeout to preserve a one-run Crimson lead and complete the shutout.
HARVARD 5, PRINCETON 1