“We think every team in the Ivy League is a tough competitor, so we’re always bringing our A-game no matter who’s on the other side of the field,” said Bradley, echoing her coach’s sentiments.
Two other factors complicating Ivy League play are other teams’ familiarity with Harvard’s breakout stars of 2016 and a new crop of talent throughout the league.
“Coaches in the conference are really going to have strategies against some players who established themselves as key starters,” said Allard, referring to Lantz and Rich in particular. “In the conference, there are several new freshmen pitchers, so I’m really interested to see how those freshmen pitchers develop.”
One of the league’s dominant offensive forces, Dartmouth shortstop Katie McEachern, has graduated, much to the relief of Ivy League pitchers. McEachern topped the league in home runs in 2016 with 12, and she also hit .442 with a 1.380 OPS.
However Penn’s Alexis Sargent, arguably the league’s top pitcher in 2016, returns in 2017 for her senior year. Sargent paced the Ivy League with a 2.29 ERA and 124 punch-outs, holding opposing hitters to a meager .237 batting average.
—Staff writer Jack Stockless can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.