There is joy in Mudville.
Unlike the Casey from Ernest Thayer’s famous poem “Casey at the Bat,” Harvard freshman Kasey Lange delivered clutch hits for the Crimson last week. In the Harvard softball team’s doubleheader against Holy Cross last Tuesday, Lange slammed three home runs over the fence and had a combined nine RBI.
Lange wasted no time in giving the Crusaders trouble. With two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the first inning, Lange boomed a homer to right field that gave the Crimson an early lead.
Her next two RBI came in the second and fourth innings.
Lange hit two singles that allowed her co-captain Ellen Macadam to score both times.
The first game of the doubleheader ended with Harvard on top, 8-1. In six innings, Lange managed to go 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI, ultimately contributing to half of the Crimson’s runs.
But Game 1 was merely a teaser for Holy Cross, which was about to experience an even more deadly performance by Lange in the second game.
In her first at-bat, Lange popped out to the second baseman, but that was the last time she would allow the Crusaders to get the better of her.
Down 4-0 going into the bottom of the third inning, Harvard needed an offensive boost. After a double from junior Jane Alexander and a single to the shortstop by Macadam, Lange found herself at bat with her team losing, 4-1.
With the count at one ball and one strike, the rookie found the sweet spot of her bat again and sailed a ball over the left-field fence, sending her and Macadam around to home plate.
Still trailing by one run in the bottom of the fourth, the Crimson bats started to take action. During its rally, Harvard took over the lead, and Lange stepped up to the plate with her team up, 6-4, and two runners in scoring position. Lange then walloped a double to left field that caused both runners on base to score.
The double gave the Crimson even more confidence as it transitioned into the fifth inning. Even though Harvard had a comfortable cushion in the sixth inning, Lange did not slow down.
In her final at-bat of the day and with a runner on second, she slammed yet another home run to right-center field.
“I think [Lange’s] home runs are proof of how she goes up to each at-bat with a great mental attitude and great clarity and just attacks the ball,” junior teammate Whitney Shaw said.
Lange’s last home run helped catalyze yet another Crimson rally that put the nail in the coffin for Holy Cross, securing Harvard’s victory.
The game was called after six innings due to the mercy rule, but Lange still finished with three hits, two home runs, and six RBI.
Although Lange had an exceptionally stellar game on Tuesday, she regularly helps her team in tight situations. In fact, Lange drove in at least one run in each of the Crimson’s seven games last week, finishing with 18 RBI as Harvard went 6-1.
“She’s just a clutch hitter, and she comes up [in] big situations for us,” Crimson coach Jenny Allard said. “She’s hitting No. 3 in the lineup, which is typically a strong RBI-producing hitter, which she has been. Whenever we’ve needed a big hit, she has been able to come through in the clutch.”
These clutch hits have translated into Lange’s stats. Among the softball players in the Ivy League who have played in at least 75% of their team’s games, Lange is ranked first in doubles (17), second in home runs (7) and slugging percentage (.746), and third in batting average (.407) behind teammate Macadam, who is hitting .420.
Lange also leads the league in RBI with 48, almost doubling the number of the runner-up.
But the stats and big plays Lange produces are not an individual effort.
“[Macadam] and [sophomore Stephanie Regan], who hit ahead of her, do a good job of getting on base in front of her and give [Lange] the opportunity to come up with a big hit to score them,” Allard said.
While Lange’s teammates help her get on the Ivy League leaderboards, she also returns the favor. Macadam stands first in the league in runs scored (37), aided by her own third-ranked number of hits (48) and fourth-ranked on-base percentage (.465).
Through individual and team efforts, Lange has proved herself as a big slugger for Harvard in her rookie season.
“She’s a really good hitter for us, and I think she’s made a tremendous impact her freshman year,” Allard said.