Wasted leads late in games have routinely plagued the Harvard softball team in 2017. Against Connecticut in the final game of the Rainbow Wahine Classic, the Crimson fought back from a 3-0 deficit only to hand the lead back to the Huskies in extras. Later, Harvard rocketed out to a 4-0 start in its very first inning of Ivy League play, but Penn rallied late to win, 5-4. The following day, Columbia tacked on four runs in the bottom of the seventh to record a 6-5 walk-off victory.
On the road at Bryant (7-28, 2-4 Northeast 10) after a 2-2 Ancient Eight weekend, Harvard (12-14, 3-5 Ivy) reversed this trend. After building a 6-2 advantage after three full innings, the visitors allowed one run in each of the next three innings, but senior righthander Taylor Cabe silenced the Bulldogs down the stretch to secure the save.
“I think it was really important that we bounced back, and everybody is going to carry that energy that we had today over into the weekend,” sophomore catcher Elizabeth Shively said.
Sophomore starter Katie Duncan held Bryant to two runs through her first three innings of work, but she allowed three straight hits for a run in the bottom of the fourth, and a double and a single made it a 6-4 game after five frames.
Crimson skipper Jenny Allard opted for Cabe to start the sixth. An error, a groundout, and a sacrifice fly cut the Crimson’s lead to one, but Cabe immediately settled in and dispatched of the rest of the Bulldogs’ batters. The Boiling Springs, S.C., native struck out Bryant center fielder Tiffany Bell to end the sixth and punched out first baseman Nicole Zukowski to finish of the contest.
“Taylor came in and did a really nice job of keeping the ball down and not letting the other team put runs on the board,” sophomore shortstop Rhianna Rich said. “She did a great job with keeping the other team off balance.”
The save was Cabe’s first of the season and the fifth of her career. The senior lowered her ERA to 3.71 in the process.
After winning Athlete of the Week for her performances against Cornell and Princeton, Rich kept rolling against the Bulldogs. The El Segundo, Calif., native went two-for-three with two runs scored and a walk. She has only struck out three times in 26 games.
Rich keyed Harvard’s five-run outburst in the top of the third with a leadoff single up the middle, and on an error by Bell she advanced to second. Sophomore center fielder Kaitlyn Schiffhauer laced another single up the middle to knot the game at 2-2.
After a sacrifice fly from senior left fielder Catherine Callaway—her third of the season—sophomore third baseman Erin Lockhart strode to the plate with runners on the corners and one down. Lockhart did not disappoint, depositing a three-run shot over the left-field fence.
“She’s been killing it this year,” Rich said. “She’s been key in our lineup, and we’re going to need her in division play, so that was really good to see her step up in a big situation and help us put some runs on the board.”
The Crimson struggled to extend its lead late in the game due to a strong performance by Bryant reliever Colby Norris. Following the Lockhart blast, Norris came on in relief of struggling starter Brandi Burgin, and she threw 4.2 shutout innings while only conceding one hit and one walk, adding three strikeouts.
Rich got the game started for Harvard in the top of the first. The sophomore drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, moved to third on an error by Zukowski, and scored on a second consecutive miscue by the Bulldogs’ first baseman.
Duncan, making her 12th start on the mound in 2017, tossed five innings and fanned four. The win was her fourth of the year.
“We accomplished a lot of things that we wanted to,” Rich said. “That was a huge win for us, so we can go into division play feeling good.”—Staff writer Jack Stockless can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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