The Harvard softball team has done it again.
After winning both of Friday’s games against Brown, the Crimson went on to sweep the Bears in two games on Saturday, 5-0 and 5-2, clinching the North Division title for the third year in a row.
This weekend’s four-game sweep of Brown (8-24, 5-11 Ivy), coupled with Cornell’s loss to Penn, also ensures that Harvard (28-11, 15-1) will have home field advantage for the upcoming Ivy League Championship Series against the South Division titleholder. This will be the second consecutive year that the Crimson hosts the series.
“Being able to play on our field, in front of our fans is such an advantage,” said sophomore third baseman Kasey Lange. “We’ve worked hard all season to secure hosting, and we’re looking forward to defending our title in our house.”
Despite all the good news, there was still one negative to this weekend’s play.
Last season, when Harvard played the Bears, the Crimson nabbed all four games as well, putting up 35 runs while allowing Brown to score just four.
But this year, Harvard’s victories were much closer. Though the Bears’ offense was still held to four runs, the Crimson plated a total of 14 runs, less than half of the 35 it scored in last year’s series.
One explanation for the fall in offense against the Bears, which have no pitchers ranked in the top 10 in Ivy League ERA, opposing batting average, or strikeouts, is the loss of Ellen Macadam ’11. The reigning Ivy League Player of the Year batted .453 in conference games and finished with a slugging percentage of .773 as last season’s co-captain.
“Losing Ellen was huge for our team,” senior shortstop Jane Alexander said. “She was such a consistent spark in our lineup. This year, everyone, one through nine, has stepped up. We know any and every girl in our lineup can be a catalyst for us. We’ve also had girls coming off the bench in pinch hitting situations come up big for us. This year our offense is so dangerous because every single spot in our lineup is strong.”
Alexander has stepped up in particular, ranking first in the Ancient Eight in hits (53), triples (4), and total bases (78). Overall the Crimson offense tops the Ivies in batting average, hitting .295 as a team.
HARVARD 5, BROWN 2
In the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, sophomore pitcher Laura Ricciardone struck out seven to lead Harvard to a 5-2 victory against Brown.
The Crimson grabbed an early lead in the bottom of the first inning when freshman second baseman Katherine Lantz singled up the middle to bring home junior leftfielder Ashley Heritage.
Following a scoreless second inning, the Bears came back in the top of the third, knocking in a run to tie the score at 1-1.
Harvard responded in the bottom of the inning with another run, as Heritage scored on a passed ball to take back the lead for the Crimson.