A year-ending sweep of visiting Dartmouth Saturday would have been ideal, but reality for the Harvard softball team was a split.
The Crimson struggled through two extra inning games, a 5-4 loss followed by a 4-3 victory, but the opening game tarnished what would have been an all-out celebration.
"Today wasn't quite what we thought it would be," Harvard Coach John Wentzell said after the twinbill. "We were expecting a team like Cornell, Everyone was thinking we'd have a day in the sun."
Even with the split, the batswomen finished the season with an impressive 17-8 mark, the highest victory total in the five-year history of the program.
The only problem was that the squad had envisioned an 18-7 record and had written off Dartmouth before the games even begun.
And why not -- the big Green had but two wins to its name before journeying to Cambridge.
Saturday's doubleheader promised to be a retake of April 26's Big Red matchups, in which the Crimson swept Cornell, 18-5 and 4-0. The two Big Colors are merely clab teams in Ivy softball, and traditionally neither provides much competition for the varsity squads.
So when Harvard took the field for the opener, whispers of "10-run rule" floated in the air, in preparation for a big Crimson blowout.
The lofty expectations collapsed as the Big Green slipped four runs--on three hits--past a semi-conscious Harvard in the third. The Cantabs made up the difference by the fifth, but the score remained locked after seven.
Estra innings beckoned, as did the infamous NCAA tie breaker rule, which gives each team a bonus runner on second base at the start of each extra frame.
Dartmouth scored on a squeeze bunt in the top of the eighth, and then gunned down Harvard's Mary MacKinnon at the place in the bottom of the mining to clinch the victory.
"Our engines just weren't motoring," Wentzell said. "Their pitching wasn't tast, but it was effective. We were hitting everything into the wind, and they were just flagging it down."
The Big Green jumped out in front again in the nightcap, scoring in the second. But in the home half of the third. Mary Baldauf crunched her sixth roundtripper of the season and Lisa Rowning picked up an RBI on a sacrifice fly to put the Crimson on top for the first time all afternoon.
Pesky Dartmouth tallied in the sixth to tie the game up--and send it into extra innings again. The visitors promptly scored in the top of the eighth.
Gia Barresi took up her tiebreaker position on second and scored on a Gerri Rubin single. Fittingly, the next player up was senior Co-Captain Ann Wilson, who had been sidelined most of the season with a knee injury. Wilson cracked another single for her second RBI of the day, to give the Crimson its sixth come-from-behind victory of the season.
"It's great to see Ann Wilson, she's made a long climb back," Wentzell said. "You've got to give that kid credit."
Give the entire team credit for fighting back right up the very end.