Although the season is already nearly halfway over, the games that count have just begun. With Friday’s opening of the Ivy League season, the Harvard softball team knew how important it was to get a strong start in conference play.
The Crimson was able to accomplish just that, riding strong pitching to its first sweep of Princeton (6-21, 0-4 Ivy) since 2007.
Sophomore Rachel Brown hurled a no-hitter in the opening game, staking Harvard to a 4-0 win at the Class of 1895 field. A late-game rally in the nightcap gave the Crimson a 3-1 victory to complete the road sweep.
HARVARD 3, PRINCETON 1
The Tigers got out to an early 1-0 lead when Jamie Lettire knocked an RBI double to center in the bottom of the first. The Crimson would threaten in each inning but couldn’t plate any runs—despite leaving seven players on base in the first five innings.
Harvard would get all the offense it needed in the sixth, beginning with a one-out single from sophomore Jane Alexander. After Alexander stole second, senior Jess Pledger’s double brought the shortstop home to even the ledger at 1-1.
Freshman pitcher Jess Ferri followed with her third double of the season to give her team a 2-1 edge, and freshman Ashley Heritage came in to pinch-run for Ferri, scoring after Princeton’s Ellen Scott dropped a fly ball in left field.
Co-captain Margaux Black had a strong start for the Crimson, limiting the Tigers to only one run and six hits in four innings of work.
Black pitched into a bit of a jam when she allowed three-consecutive singles after retiring the first two batters in the top of the fourth, but a Scott groundout ended the threat.
“It was a very strong weekend for us,” Black said. “We had a game plan [for Princeton]—we knew going in how we would pitch against them, and we just had a little more confidence than they did. We came out strong knowing that we would dominate them.”
Sophomore Julia Moore was credited with her second victory of the season after pitching a hitless fifth inning, while Brown pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh to earn her first save of the year.
HARVARD 4, PRINCETON 0
Brown pitched the first no-hitter of her collegiate career to take the first game from the Tigers in dominating fashion. The sophomore hurler walked nobody and struck out seven for her sixth win and seventh complete game of the season.
The performance lowered Brown’s ERA to a team-best 2.14.
“This was huge,” she said. “[Princeton is] a really tough opponent, and we knew it was going to be a really tough weekend, not only because the teams are tough, but also because it’s a long weekend away from home.”