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In its home opener, the Harvard softball team mercy-ruled Rhode Island (1-20) in back-to-back games on Tuesday afternoon at Soldiers Field. After going 1-3 in two sets of Ivy League doubleheaders over the weekend, the Crimson hitters bounced back strongly against the Rams, combining for 29 runs over the course of two games.
The Harvard offense has been on fire as of late, as this set of double-digit games comes two days after the Crimson racked up 14 runs against Penn in its last game.
HARVARD 14, RHODE ISLAND 3
After falling behind 1-0 in the first inning, Harvard barraged the Rams for 11 runs in the second inning. It was the first time this season that the Crimson put up double-digit runs in a single inning.
“It was great to be able to pass the bat for that long,” junior pitcher Morgan Groom said. “We had a lot of people stay focused during their at-bats.”
Sophomore infielder Catherine Calloway led off the inning with a solo shot, and the hits kept coming from there. Later that inning, freshman Maddy Kaplan singled to drive in two more runs. The Crimson racked up eight hits on their way to batting around the order one and a half times.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster, especially when we’ve been putting everyone in and we still are producing the runs we need,” Groom added.
Senior Emily Gusse led the Crimson with four RBIs for the game. She is currently the team’s leading run producer with 15 RBIs on the season.
Sophomore pitcher Taylor Cabe started the game for Harvard. She gave up a lone RBI double to the Ram’s junior Lauren Klepchick in the top of the first. Cabe picked up her second win of the season.
She was relieved by junior Gabrielle Ruiz, who finished the game with two innings, giving up two runs on four hits.
“Our fielding and pitching were solid,” said Groom. We played really well on the field. We got it done. It was a pretty simple. “
HARVARD 15, RHODE ISLAND 0
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Crimson never looked back from an early 9-0 lead that it gained in the bottom of the first inning. Captain Laura Ricciardone and Groom combined for a three-hit shutout as Harvard went on to win by its largest margin of the season.
The game broke wide open in the bottom of the first, when freshman Alexa Altchek ripped a bases-loaded double into center field, scoring all three runners. Altchek, who came in as a pinch runner earlier that inning, went 3-for-3 and led the Crimson with five RBIs.
“The freshmen just came in and did really well today,” Groom said. “Alexa [Altchek] roped the ball today, which was great to see. [Freshman] Melissa [Lacro] hit some ropes too. I don’t think it is represented in her hits, but she hit some shots right at people.”
Ricciardone and Groom returned to last season’s form, when Harvard’s pitching staff led the Ivy League in ERA. Ricciardone started and struck out six, while walking none, in three innings of work. She earned her sixth win of the season.
Groom came in to finish the job. pitching two perfect innings as the game was cut short due to the 10-run mercy rule.
Rhode Island, which has faced many injuries in their pitching staff this season, was forced to put two position players, junior Kayla Cruz and junior Olivia Hendricks on the mound.
Cruz pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up seven earned runs. Hendricks finished the game out giving up eight earned runs in three and a third innings pitched. The team only has two pitchers active on its roster.
The win was a statement to how much the Crimson have improved throughout the course of the young season. At the beginning of the year it was struggling often to score, but the runs have been coming in droves of late.
“I think everyone is confident and walks with a swagger that they didn’t have before, and that’s good to see,” junior utility player Haley Davis said.
—Staff writer Jacob W. Lynch can be reached at email@example.com.
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