Harvard softball stormed into Providence, R.I. last weekend, leaving with three victories and outscoring Brown by a combined tally of 16-6. The second contest of the series was postponed due to rain, and since the game had significant playoff implications for the North Division crown, it had to be made up at a later date.
The Crimson (18-17, 9-7 Ivy) once again traveled down to Brown, this time to complete the four-game series against the Bears (14-27, 4-12). Four days removed from the dominance it displayed last weekend, however, Harvard struggled to carry its momentum into this midweek matchup. The Bears used two strong offensive innings and a solid outing on the mound to defeat the Crimson, 4-0.
“Today wasn’t the result we wanted, but I think it opened our eyes a little bit,” sophomore shortstop Rhianna Rich said. “Nothing comes easy and we need to fight even harder for this North Division title.”
The first three innings did not feature any scoring, but they were not devoid of offensive threats. Harvard senior righthander Taylor Cabe and Brown’s Gina Chieffallo essentially matched each other out-for-out, but each had to work out of some jams along the way. Through three frames, Cabe had scattered four singles and struck out three. Chieffallo allowed seven baserunners, but none of them crossed the plate.
After the three-inning stalemate, two big innings for the Bears’ bats downed Harvard. Senior catcher Julia Schoenewald launched a two-run dinger in the bottom of the fourth to put Brown on the board.
The following inning, back-to-back singles from third baseman Cat Seitz and designated player Meghan Wimmer plated two more to give the Bears a 4-0 advantage.
Two more shut-down innings from Brown starter Gina Chieffallo were enough to hold the 4-0 lead and secure the shutout victory. Chieffallo allowed doubles to sophomore center fielder Kaitlyn Schiffhauer and sophomore third baseman Erin Lockhart in the sixth and seventh innings, respectively, but she avoided the scoring threat each time.
“We strung some hits together, but none were timely so we were unable to be productive at the plate,” Rich said.
Chieffallo capped off her complete-game outing by inducing a groundout to second base. The senior did not completely stymie the Crimson’s hitters, but she worked out of several tight spots throughout her start.
“I think she did a good job of keeping the ball away from our hitters,” Schiffhauer said.
Both teams put 11 runners on base, but the Bears’ timely hitting and Harvard’s lack thereof was key. In six of its seven trips to the plate, the Crimson left at least one runner in scoring position.
“I think we hit into a lot of outs and sometimes reached for balls that weren’t necessarily in our zone,” Schiffhauer said. “We definitely had some hard shots that they made good plays on, but we have to do a better job making in-game adjustments and having more timely hitting.”
One inning in particular that came back to haunt Harvard was the top of the second.
After Harvard’s first two hitters recorded quick outs on popups to the second baseman, junior second baseman Melissa Lacro singled. Lacro’s base hit marked the Crimson’s first hit of the afternoon. Schiffhauer quickly followed with a single of her own into left field, and junior left fielder Dallas Hogan drew a walk to load up the bases. However, a ground ball to shortstop and a force out at second base killed the scoring chance.
The loss puts Harvard one game back of North Division leader Dartmouth heading into a four-game weekend set with the Big Green. The situation for the Crimson is exactly the same as in 2016, when it took three of four games on the final weekend of the season to earn a berth in the Ivy League Championship Series.
“Obviously a win today could have put us in a better position and we all know that,” Rich said. “But the first thing we said after the game today to each other was that this game doesn’t define us as a team. We’re focusing on our Dartmouth series now and what we need to do to be successful against them.”
“We did it last year so we know we can do it again this year,” Rich added.
—Staff writer Jack Stockless can be reached at email@example.com.
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