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Neither of them was supposed to be here in the first place.
Harvard and Brown, facing off for a shot at the Ivy League title.
Today's doubleheader (1 p.m., Soldiers Field) should have been just another anti-climactic battle for second place, a twinbill transpiring on the banks of the Charles while the real champs relaxed down in Princeton, N.J.
Not since 1982 had the Tigers lost a game in Ivy League play.
And sure, the Crimson and Bruins were good--but they looked destined to fight for second place yet again, after tying in '85 with identical 4-4 league marks.
But something incredible happened last weekend: Brown swept a doubleheader from Princeton.
So long, four-year Ivy winning streak.
Hello, Harvard-Brown showdown.
If the Crimson (2-2 Ivy) sweeps the Bruins (5-1) this afternoon--and follows through with a pair of wins over a weaker Yale squad (1-5) tomorrow--it will clinch a tie for its first-ever league championship.
And the Tigers (6-2), who concluded their Ivy slate last week, can only sit in Princeton hoping for a Harvard sweep and subsequent Yale upset.
With three-quarters of their schedule behind them, the batswomen (12-6 overall) are keeping up with last year's record-setting 17-win pace. The 1985 Crimson went 17-8 overall, recording the most victories in the six-year history of Harvard varsity softball.
And just like last year, when a rookie paced the squad in batting--Mary Baldauf's .476 average eventually ranked tops in the country--the leading Crimson hitter is a Yardling.
Freshman center fielder Elizabeth Crowley, an Arlington, Mass. native who earned Boston Globe Division I Player of the Year honors last season, is currently leading the squad with a .382 batting average.
Crowley's 21 hits and .435 on-base percentage also rank her first in those departments.
Another rookie making a splash for the Crimson is freshman hurler Lora Rowning, a fireballer who has posted a 4-4 mark on the mound.
Another three-quarters stat: a full 75 percent of the Harvard infield also plays for the women's basketball team.
And although Baldauf, Sharon Hayes and Trisha Brown have to join the squad late each spring--the hoops season ends just a couple of weeks before softball begins--the basketball connection has proved quite beneficial for the Crimson.
Brown is currently second on the squad with a .351 batting mark and 20 hits, and is one of only two Harvard sluggers with a home run to her credit.
The other round-tripper belongs to Hayes, who also has a team-leading 18 RBI.
And Baldauf, despite a drop from last year's astronomical hitting pace, is leading the Crimson with 12 walks and 20 runs scored.
The other half of Harvard softball's first-ever sister combination is third sacker Lisa Rowning, the only non-hoopster in the infield. Rowning leads all Crimson starters with just one strikeout in 59 at-bats, and is tied with Hayes for the team lead in doubles with three.
Rowning (batting at a .305 clip) joins Crowley and Brown as the only batswomen currently topping the .300 mark.
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