As the Ivy League softball tournament opens today, the Harvard squad--in its first season at the varsity level--has an excellent chance of dethroning defending champion Yale and bringing home the championship cup.
Power, Pitching. Defense. The Crimson has had everything this season.
Everything but competition. In the process of compiling a 7-2 record, the Crimson has embarrassed some of the best teams in the New England area.
Game results read like an athletic hit list. Victims include: MIT (16-5). Brandeis (34-6), B.U. (31-6). Smith (18-0). Northeastern (29-9), and Tufts (25-12).
Facing the more experienced and talented Ivy Leaguers, the Crimson may not be able to accumulate scores worthy of the gridiron, but with a 423 team batting average, the squad should tally more than its share of runs.
Leading the Crimson's awesome offensive attack is third baseman Pat Horne; batting, 640 with three home runs. Cleanup hitter Elaine Holpuch is right behind Horne with a .560 mark and four rountrippers. Even shortstop and co-captain Lisa "Mouse" Bernstein (.571), whom Coach Kit Morris says "could deliver the Boylston lecture on bunting" has provided some power. In the past week. Bernstein cracked the first two home runs of her career.
"Yale has one unbelievable pitcher, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that we'll be able to hit her." sophomore hurler Nancy Boutilier said after watching her teammates collect 14 hits in the first four innings of the Smith game.
In contrast to the prodigious Harvard attack, only two teams have been able to score more than 10 points off Crimson pitchers. The University of Maine, which handed the Crimson its two defeats, tallied 11 in the first game of a doubleheader, and on Thursday. Tufts scored twelve when cannon-armed leftfielder Holpuch took a turn in the rotation.
Otherwise, the Crimson pitching staff has been practically invincible. Boutilier (4-1) and Karen Pelletier (3-1) both have ERA's of 1.91, and thanks to Holpuch's stint Thursday afternoon, they should be well-rested when they take the mound this weekend.
The Crimson nine's only weakness lies in its academic strength. Several key players--including first baseman Marlene Schools, recipient of All-Ivy honors at last year's tournament--must attend Rotary scholarship interviews and will miss part or all of the competition.
Still, team members are very optimistic. "Everybody's watching Yale, and they're not really aware of what we can do." Bernstein said after the Northeastern game."
"I saw the Yale lacrosse coach after one of our games and told her to tell their softball team to look out for us." co-captain Betty Ippolito said, promising. "We're going to bring back the Cup."