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Through seven and two-thirds innings, sophomore pitcher Lauren Bettinelli dominated the Boston College (B.C.) lineup, holding the Eagles—who had outscored the Crimson (14-25, 6-6 Ivy) 34-1 in their last four meetings—to just two runs on three hits over seven and two-thirds innings.
“I was just trying to hit my spots and to mix speeds a little bit, move the ball around,” Bettinelli said. “I think it was basically the mix, but usually my curveball is my go to pitch.”
Unfortunately, that mastery evaporated with a single swing of the bat.
Throughout the course of the game, B.C.’s (29-17, 11-4 Big East) senior first baseman and clean-up hitter Lisa Fischer had fallen prey to Bettinelli’s well-postioned pitches tucked along the plate’s inside corner.
“We’d been throwing inside and she hadn’t hit it,” Bettinelli said.
But the seasoned veteran would not play the fool again. When Bettinelli attempted to sneak yet another inside pitch by her, Fischer was ready.
“I hit my spot,” Bettinelli said. “But she’s just a good hitter and she was expecting it, I guess.”
The ball soared over the left field fence, sealing the 3-2 victory for the Eagles.
Despite the heartbreaking defeat, the result was still far preferable than the recent shellackings that Harvard has endured at B.C.’s hands.
“It felt really good because it was the first time that we played them really tight,” Bettinelli said. “It was good to play well against a team we know we should be playing tight.”
And while the close pitching kept the Crimson within striking distance, timely hitting allowed Harvard to draw level, ultimately forcing the game into extra innings. After surrendering two runs on an Eagles’ home run in the top of the fourth, the Crimson struck right back, quickly leveling the score.
Harvard quickly placed runners on the corners on a pair of singles and a fielder’s choice before freshman Rachel Murray’s sacrifice fly knocked home junior Rachel Goldberg, bringing the Crimson to within one.
Ensuring that BC would not escape without suffering further damage, Bettinelli hammered a double to knock in junior Sarah Williamson, knotting the score at two, where it would remain until the top of the eighth.
“I think I was just looking for an outside pitch and she gave it to me,” Bettinelli said.
Harvard could not capitalize on a similar position in the bottom of the seventh, stranding runners on the corners and allowing the Eagles to escape into the extra frame.
“You want to score the runners,” Bettinelli said. “But I don’t know if frustrating is the right word for it. BC’s pitcher did what she had to do.”
Still, the Crimson squad’s heightened ability to compete with the toughest competition—both against Princeton last weekend and the Eagles yesterday—has come at precisely the right moment, as the season draws to its conclusion.
“I think we’re playing with a lot more confidence from this past weekend and playing BC,” Bettinelli said.
The Harvard softball team returns to Ivy League play this Saturday, squaring off against Dartmouth in an afternoon doubleheader at Soldiers Field.
—Staff writer Timothy J. McGinn can be reached at email@example.com
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