The Ivy League championship hangs in the balance for the Harvard softball team (22-20, 13-3 Ivy), as it prepares to take on Dartmouth this weekend in a pair of doubleheaders.
The Big Green (13-22, 10-4) and the Crimson will play for control of the Ivy League North Division, the winner of which will go on to face the leader of the South Division for the Ancient Eight title.
For Dartmouth, which was defeated by Cornell in last year’s best-of-three Championship Series, beating Harvard this weekend is a crucial step towards gaining redemption.
But for the Crimson, which holds a two-game lead over its league rival, the doubleheaders provide an opportunity to clinch the division and set up a title bout.
“It’s a huge weekend for us,” co-captain Margaux Black said. “This is what we’ve been playing for, what our season is all about.”
“Our goal has been to be in the conference race in the last weekend,” coach Jenny Allard added. “We’re in a great position now, but the games will be a battle.”
Both teams are coming off of recent losses—the Big Green having split a makeup doubleheader with Brown, and Harvard having lost, 4-1, in a non-conference game against Boston University yesterday afternoon.
The Crimson, led by standout sophomore hurler Rachel Brown, acknowledges both the importance of the final series of the regular season and the strength of its adversary.
“We’re going to have to come out with a lot of energy,” the sophomore said. “Dartmouth is always a great series because they’re great opponents.”
The reigning Ivy Rookie of the Year, Brown has played a big role in Harvard’s domination of its division.
Currently holding a 14-5 record on the year with 206 strikeouts, she has been named the league’s Pitcher of the Week three times already this season and shows no sign of slowing down.
Besides relying on Brown’s stellar arm, the Crimson has also recently found success at the plate, generating offense up and down the lineup.
“We’re really peaking now, and this is the right time in the season to do that,” Brown said. “We’ve had some really strong showings, and everyone’s excited to continue this weekend.”
Though Harvard has received much of its batting power from sophomore slugger Whitney Shaw—who has a team-high 10 home runs—it has used a team-wide offensive effort to score at least one run in the squad’s last nine games.
“The offense has been coming on very strong in the last few weeks, and we have to keep that help,” Black said.
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