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The Harvard softball seniors just didn’t want the game to end.
In the team’s final contest of the year, and the seniors’ last game, the Crimson (22-20-1, 7-5 Ivy) fell to a tough Boston College (31-21, 9-9 Big East) squad 5-2 in 13 innings.
For six innings, Harvard had held the Eagles scoreless and allowed only three hits. With a 2-0 lead and co-captain ace Kara Brotemarkle coming to the circle to close the seventh inning, it appeared that the Crimson would finally take one from their cross-town rivals.
But Ashley Obrest, the inning’s first batter, sent Brotemarkle’s offering over the fence in left for a lead-halving home run.
Brotemarkle dropped her head and took off her glove, while sophomore catcher Erin Halpenny and coach Jenny Allard came out to calm her.
Still flustered, Brotemarkle walked the next batter, Erin Mackey, and Sara Kellner came in to run.
After a sacrifice bunt moved Kellner to second, Elise Meredith sent a hard grounder to co-captain second baseman Sara Williamson and all hell broke loose.
Williamson fielded the ball cleanly, but her throw to junior Cecily Gordon at first was low. Unable to come up with the toss, Gordon went to the ground to grab the rolling ball.
By the time she had it in her hand, Meredith was safe at first, and Kellner had rounded third and was heading home.
Gordon popped up and threw to Halpenny at the plate, but the ball arrived late and Kellner scored the game-tying run. Halpenny then gunned down Meredith, who was attempting to move to second amid the action at home.
“I screwed up,” Williamson said, “and cost my team the game.”
Brotemarkle got Elena Ferrero to fly out to sophomore center fielder Kerry Flaherty to keep the score tied and give the offense a chance to take back the game in the bottom of the inning.
“After they scored that second run, all I wanted to do was stop them from scoring any more,” Brotemarkle said.
Leading off, Williamson hit the ball right on the nose, but right at BC’s left fielder.
Halpenny grounded out, but senior shortstop Rachel Goldberg worked an 0-2 count to 2-2 and then dumped a single into left. Freshman Julia Kidder, solid all year, came up with a clutch shot into center that put runners on first and second with two outs.
The game went to extra frames, however, when junior left fielder Lauren Stefanchik popped up to the third baseman.
In the top of the eighth, the Eagles had a quick chance to take the lead with runners on second and third and one out, but Brotemarkle buckled down and induced the next two BC batters into weak fly balls.
Junior Lauren Bettinelli came in to relieve Brotemarkle in the tenth, and immediately benefited from slick fielding by Goldberg and Stefanchik, who each made great plays to keep runners of the base paths. Bettinelli had started the game for Harvard and went four scoreless innings before giving way to freshman Becky Voaklander in the fifth.
Both teams went in short order the next two innings.
Then in the top of the 13th, Kimmy Hopkin popped up to Goldberg and Jenna Macchi walked. Jacqui Goodchild sent a sacrifice drag bunt to Goldberg, who threw her out at first. With two outs, Britney Thompson walked, and Obrest again inflicted pain on the Crimson, tattooing a shot to left center that one hopped the fence and scored Macchi. With runners on second and third, Erin Mackey singled to center and drove in both Thompson and Obrest, giving the Eagles the final 5-2 margin.
“Sometimes you play your hearts out, and the ball falls just fair, and you want it to fall just foul,” Gordon said. “But the game went to 13 innings and we fought hard.”
Harvard got on the board in the second inning, as sophomore third baseman Rachel Murray reached on an error. Freshman Lauren Brown pinch ran, and advanced to second on a sac bunt from Bettinelli. Williamson then knocked her in with a double to center.
The very next inning the Crimson struck again. After Stefanchik lined a single up the middle, Gordon blasted a rocket through the right side, and Stefanchik didn’t break her stride coming around second and sliding into third. Gordon promptly stole second to put two runners in scoring position.
Senior Monica Montijo pinch hitting for junior designated player Annie Dell’Aria, served a single to left that plated Stefanchik and moved Gordon to third.
In an attempt to get into a rundown and allow Gordon to score from third, Montijo made a half-hearted steal try, but ran too close to the second baseman, who tagged Montijo for the second out. Murray then popped out to short left for the third out.
For Harvard’s four seniors—Brotemarkle, Williamson, Goldberg, and Montijo—this final game was their final day in a Crimson uniform.
“It’s a sick feeling,” Brotemarkle said. “I’m going to miss it.”
—Staff writer J. Patrick Coyne can be reached at email@example.com.
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