Last season, Crimson hurler Rachel Brown fanned 10 batters and allowed seven hits to lead the Harvard softball team to an 8-1 victory over Holy Cross (8-31, 3-13 PL).
This year, Brown has managed to one-up herself, striking out 11 and holding the Crusaders’ offense to just two hits, as the Crimson (29-11, 15-1 Ivy) took down Holy Cross, 10-0, on Thursday. The win marks Harvard’s ninth shutout of the season and the 24th shutout of Brown’s four-year career.
Earlier this week, Brown was named the Harvard COOP Athlete of the Week and earned the title of Ivy League Pitcher of the Week. Brown, who leads the Ancient Eight with an opposing batting average of 1.50 and 206 strikeouts, has already received the latter title four other times this season.
Despite her standout status, Brown credits the entire Crimson defense for its stellar performance in shutting out the Crusaders on Thursday.
“My defense was completely solid behind me,” Brown said. “There were no errors, and Katie Lantz made a great play that took a great amount of range. Kasey [Lange] made a few great plays too, and I couldn’t do any of it without my catchers. Katie Appelbe did a great job blocking pitches in the dirt, because otherwise you run the risk of dropped third strikes and runners on base. I’m just one piece of the puzzle.”
The ten runs plated in by the Crimson offense also came as the result of a team effort, with eight players contributing at least one hit to the squad’s grand total of 15. Senior shortstop Jane Alexander and sophomore third baseman Kasey Lange finished the contest with four hits each. Combined, the two went 8-for-9.
“Jane was on fire,” Crimson coach Jenny Allard said. “It was great to see her really have a sense of urgency at the plate. We need more people in the lineup doing that. Kasey really bounced back. I thought she had a tough weekend. She worked on some things in practice on Tuesday and today it was great to see her make some adjustments and hit the ball solid. They are two go-to people in the lineup.”
The Harvard lineup began its offensive attack as soon as the game began, with Alexander leading off with a double to center field. A sacrifice bunt hit by junior left fielder Ashley Heritage then advanced Alexander to third, and a Lange single drove her home to earn the Crimson its first run of the game.
The second inning proved scoreless for both teams, as three Harvard batters grounded out and Brown fanned two Holy Cross hitters in the bottom of the inning.
In the top of the third inning, Alexander ripped a solo homerun to extend the Crimson’s lead to 2-0.
The Crusaders were unable to muster a run in the second half of the inning, and neither squad put up runs in the fourth.
Harvard managed to get a rally going in the fifth inning, plating in three runs to make it a 5-0 game.
Alexander provided the first spark, leading off with a double to left center. Heritage followed with a single to first base, advancing Alexander to third. Lange then doubled to right center to knock in Alexander and put Heritage in scoring position.
A throwing error by the Holy Cross infield allowed freshman second baseman Katie Lantz to reach first and Heritage to score, unearned. The final run of the inning came in unearned as well, as Lange crossed home plate on a ground out by sophomore right fielder Shelbi Olson.
Brown blanked the Crusaders in the bottom of the fifth and both teams went scoreless in the sixth inning.
The seventh inning featured the Crimson’s greatest offensive drive of the game, as the team doubled its lead from five runs to ten in its last licks.
Lange was the first player to score, doubling down the right field line and then coming home on junior pinch hitter Jess Ferri’s double to left center. Lantz advanced to first on a fielding error and junior pinch hitter Kassy Shiotani walked to load the bases for freshman first baseman Adrienne Hume. The rookie kept the momentum going, singling to center field to knock in Lantz and Ferri.
The rally continued as freshman center fielder Camilla Gibson singled to right field, plating in Shiotani. Alexander followed with another single to right field and Hume scored, putting Holy Cross at a ten-run deficit. The third out of the inning came as Gibson was thrown out at second, and the contest finished in a 10-0 Harvard victory.
—Staff writer Marlee Melendy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.