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The Harvard softball team suffered five consecutive losses in the San Diego Classic II tournament this weekend to open its 12-game spring break trip in California.
The Crimson (3-9) had to play from behind this weekend against a handful of teams that began playing games in early February and had nearly three times as much game experience as Harvard up to this point.
“We traditionally play a very tough preseason schedule,” Harvard coach Jenny Allard said. “We want to play a tough schedule. We want to be battle tested. We want to learn how to succeed and we are getting tested right now.”
UTAH STATE 1, HARVARD 0
The Crimson’s seven hits matched its hit total from the previous two games, but the team failed to plate a run for the third consecutive game, spoiling the strong pitching performances of sophomore Taylor Cabe and senior Laura Ricciardone.
In the sixth inning, Harvard rallied to put runners on second and third with nobody out in one last attempt to even the score. But the Crimson could not capitalize, and the offense sputtered with a pop out, an out at the plate on a wild pitch, and a groundout to third.
Utah State (7-16) capitalized with the bases loaded in the fourth inning when second baseman Victoria Saucedo scored on a fielder’s choice to give the Aggies the only run it needed for the win.
SAN JOSE STATE 3, HARVARD 0
Spartans senior Madison Fish surrendered just two hits en route to a complete game shutout against the Crimson on the hill for San Jose State (19-11).
Ricciardone could not keep pace with Fish but only scattered three runs and eight hits over seven innings. Ricciardone minimized the damage in the first and seventh innings with timely outs to strand a pair of runners in each.
“Defensively, I thought we learned how to be really tough with runners on base,” Allard said. “We had a lot of innings where we had runners on base, and I think we really learned how to bear down in that situation.”
SANTA CLARA 3, HARVARD 0
In the bottom of the third inning, the Broncos strung together five singles to plate two runs and break a scoreless tie. Santa Clara (8-19) added a run in the fourth to take a decisive 3-0 lead.
Junior Morgan Groom shut out the Broncos in two innings of work to keep Harvard in the game. The Crimson had runners on first and second in the seventh inning with the tying run at the plate, but sophomore third baseman Catherine Callaway grounded into a double play to end the game.
NEW MEXICO STATE 7, HARVARD 2
The Crimson fell behind early, as the Aggies (22-9) rallied for five singles and four runs before Harvard recorded an out in the first inning. New Mexico State built its lead to seven by the top of the fourth inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, junior shortstop Haley Davis smacked a two-run home run coming off the bench to put the Crimson on the scoreboard. But Harvard did not take advantage of two consecutive walks immediately after the homer and failed to overcome the team’s early deficit.
WEBER STATE 3, HARVARD 2
After going down quietly in its half of the eighth inning, the Crimson faced a bases-loaded, one-out situation playing defense against the Aggies. Harvard nearly escaped, but sophomore left fielder Mackenzie Corta hit a two-out single down the line to lift the Wildcats past the Crimson by a run in a walk-off.
Harvard had its only lead in the tournament after it broke a scoreless tie in the sixth inning of the game. After senior Katie Lantz reached first on an error and advanced to second on a single by fellow senior Katherine Appelbe, a single from Callaway and fielding error by Weber State second baseman McKinley Brinkerhoff allowed both seniors to score.
Ricciardone held the Wildcats to no runs in five innings of work, but Groom surrendered Harvard’s lead by giving up two runs in relief in the sixth.
“The fact that all of these teams have 10-plus games under their belts, and we are competing is promising for our success this season,” Ricciardone said.
—Staff writer Eileen Storey can be reached at email@example.com.
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