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Softball Breaks Out of Slump

Improved Offense, Fielding Keys Sweep Over Bulldogs

By David S. Griffel

It was Patriots Day yesterday, a day to celebrate Massachusetts traditions.

The 100th installation of the Boston Marathon was run, the Red Sox played their annual 11 a.m. game (and lost--a tradition for the 1996 season, it seems), and the Harvard softball team played its old-time rival in Yale.

And in what is becoming a new tradition, the Crimson (9-13, 3-1 Ivy) swept the Bulldogs (6-20, 2-2) for the second straight year, winning 5-0 and 4-3 contests at Soldiers Field yesterday.

Sophomore Tasha Cupp picked up the win in both games, while Harvard's bats and gloves were much sharper than they were Saturday when Harvard split a doubleheader with Brown.

"They played like they're capable of playing," Harvard coach Jenny Allard said. "As soon as they were warmed up and were ready to go, I could tell--there was fire in their eyes."

Harvard 5, Yale 0

Last year it took 17 innings for Harvard to score against Yale down in New Haven. Yesterday, it took four batters.

The Crimson jumped out of the gates for four runs in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back, as Cupp pitched to only four batters over the minimum in a 5-0 win.

"The first inning was very important--it's always easier to play when you're ahead," said junior Melissa Kreuder, who delivered the first big blow with a bases-loaded double.

Sophomore Jenny Franzese doubled to lead off the first, followed by a walk to senior Danielle Feinberg. Senior co-captain Amy Reinhard then hit a grounder to third, but the swift Franzese avoided the tag to load the bases for Kreuder. Kreuder's double--the seventh consecutive time she had reached base safely--plated two.

Harvard was looking at a big inning and sophomore Hillary Read ensured that as she also laced a double off starter Jen Surface to make the score 4-0.

That was all Cupp would need, as she held Yale to two hits and two walks. The fielding was also sharp--and then some.

Three times a Yale player knocked a ball out of the infield only to see one of Harvard's outfielders--Kreuder twice and Franzese once--nail the runner at first or force someone out at second.

"We went from nine errors [against Brown] to basically no fielding errors, and that's an amazing turn," Allard said.

Harvard added a fifth run in the fifth when Feinberg, who had singled, scored after the Yale shortstop dropped a pop-up. Obviously, only one team fielded well in game one.

Harvard 4, Yale 3

It wasn't vintage Harvard softball, but it was just as effective. Despite falling behind early, Harvard kept its focus and pulled out a 4-3 victory, high-fiving each other and bumping chests in the postgame celebration.

On the other hand, the only visible emotion on the visitors' side came from one ornery father who tried to change the scoring of a play from an error to a hit. He fared about as well as his team did.

The Crimson erased an early 2-0 deficit, scoring the winning run in the bottom of the fifth with a combination of clutch hitting and speed on the bases.

Franzese (2-3, two runs) led off the fifth and was sacrificed to second by Feinberg. Reinhard (2-2, one run, two RBIs) promptly singled up the middl, and Franzese easily beat the throw home. A slower runner may not have made it.

"If we get runners on base, we're going to score," Allard said.

Yale pushed a run across the plate against freshman pitcher Kathleen Brown in each of the first two innings. The first was aided by two Harvard errors, while a two-out walk and a double by Cory Nakata led to the second.

However, Harvard bounced back in the third inning to take a 3-2 lead. Franzese again started the rally with a one-out double. She moved to third on Feinberg's ground out and Reinhard singled her home to put the Crimson on the scoreboard.

Reinhard--Harvard's career stolen base leader--stole second and scored on Kreuder's single. Junior Katina Lee followed with a single to move Kreuder to third and the two pulled off a double steal to give Harvard the edge.

While the Elis tied the game in the fourth, Cupp came in to relieve Brown at the start of the fifth and pitched three perfect innings. That, combined with the blue-collar run that Harvard scored in the fifth, was all she wrote for Yale once again.

"Their nerves didn't get rattled and their heads didn't go down," Allard said. "They kept fighting and fighting because they kept believing in themselves."

Weather permitting, Harvard will have a chance to keep its three-game winning streak going with a double-header at home against Boston University today at 3 p.m.

Following that is a doubleheader at Boston College on Thursday and a twinbill at perennial Ivy powerhouse Princeton Sunday.

"We came out confident, made the routine plays and the excellent plays," Kreuder said. "If we come out the way we did [yesterday], then we can give [anyone] a good game." Yale  0 Harvard  5 Yale  3 Harvard  4

HARVARD, 5-0 at Soldiers Field           R  H  E Yale  000  000  0  --  0  2  2 Harvard  400  010  x  --  5  6  0

2B: Harvard--Franzese, Kreuder, Read. E: Yale--Bartlett 2.

WP: Cupp; LP: Surface. HARVARD, 4-3 at Soldiers Field           R  H  E Yale  110  100  0  --  3  5  1 Harvard  003  010  x  --  4  7  3

2B: Yale--Nakata; Harvard--Reyen, Franzese. E: Yale--Kirchoff; Harvard--Lee, Reinhard, Kreuder.

WP: Cupp; LP: Kartunato.

HARVARD, 5-0 at Soldiers Field           R  H  E Yale  000  000  0  --  0  2  2 Harvard  400  010  x  --  5  6  0

2B: Harvard--Franzese, Kreuder, Read. E: Yale--Bartlett 2.

WP: Cupp; LP: Surface. HARVARD, 4-3 at Soldiers Field           R  H  E Yale  110  100  0  --  3  5  1 Harvard  003  010  x  --  4  7  3

2B: Yale--Nakata; Harvard--Reyen, Franzese. E: Yale--Kirchoff; Harvard--Lee, Reinhard, Kreuder.

WP: Cupp; LP: Kartunato.

2B: Harvard--Franzese, Kreuder, Read. E: Yale--Bartlett 2.

WP: Cupp; LP: Surface. HARVARD, 4-3 at Soldiers Field           R  H  E Yale  110  100  0  --  3  5  1 Harvard  003  010  x  --  4  7  3

2B: Yale--Nakata; Harvard--Reyen, Franzese. E: Yale--Kirchoff; Harvard--Lee, Reinhard, Kreuder.

WP: Cupp; LP: Kartunato.

2B: Yale--Nakata; Harvard--Reyen, Franzese. E: Yale--Kirchoff; Harvard--Lee, Reinhard, Kreuder.

WP: Cupp; LP: Kartunato.

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