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SOFTBALL 2005: Breaking Point

Crimson battles injury woes, hopes to return full complement in time for Ivies

In the game of softball, there are many aspects of the game acutely within a given team’s control.

Hitters know when to swing and how hard.

Pitchers can decide where to throw and how fast.

Fielders and baserunners too, between the lines, control their own destinies, bringing years of practice and sharpened skills to every split-second decision and athletic endeavor.

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There are certain facets of softball, however, or any sport, beyond human influence. The little things, left up to fortune or fate. They are known as the breaks.

The inventor of that euphemism must have had the 2005 Harvard softball team in mind when he designed the phrase.

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The Crimson has been plagued by enough breaks, sprains, tears, and pulls to fill an entire medical ward.

Injuries, the ultimate in unforeseeable and painful variables, have afflicted Harvard in bulk over the past few seasons, suddenly and permanently throwing into jeopardy the Crimson’s tenuous Ivy League title aspirations.

The litany of maladies is enough to make anyone wince and even the most ruthless opponent sympathize: team members from superstars to role players have come down with conditions of the back, knee, shoulder, and more.

Harvard dresses a small and finely-tuned unit, and each injury forces Crimson coach Jenny Allard to change the team’s game plan, shuffle its lineup, and rethink its long-term approach to winning softball games.

“Well, the last year, we’ve had our fair share of pretty major things,” Allard said. “You definitely can have injuries and we’ve definitely had more than our share over the last year or two. But you can’t have 13 kids.”

Fortunately, almost all of the walking wounded appear ready to return to activity by tomorrow’s Ivy opener versus Brown.

The most potentially threatening injury is to the knee of co-captain and ace hurler Lauren Bettinelli.

After an operation in the offseason, Bettinelli is still on the long road to recovery, easing back into her pitching duties as the conference schedule approaches.

“She had knee surgery, so she hasn’t been throwing,” Allard said before the season began. “She really didn’t even throw in our games at all in the fall, so she really hasn’t thrown since last spring.”

Although Bettinelli has also spent some time at other positions on the infield— second base especially—to keep her bat in the lineup, discomfort has kept her from the hill for all but 10 2/3 innings this spring, ensuring she will still be rusty when the Ivies kick off.

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