With Dartmouth visiting town for the final regular season home series at Soldiers Field, Harvard softball celebrated Senior Day after the conclusion of play on Saturday. The festive atmosphere and a solid contingent of Crimson fans must have worked wonders, as Harvard took the first two games of the series, including an 11th-inning walk-off victory in the first.
“We knew this was going to be a really big weekend for us and that Dartmouth was a strong team in the Ivy League,” said junior third baseman Erin Lockhart. “Taking the series was huge for us and it motivates us for what we have left in our season.”
DARTMOUTH 3, HARVARD 1
The Big Green (16-16, 10-5 Ivy) salvaged one win in the final game of the weekend, scoring three times in the top of the first and holding off the Crimson (20-13, 13-5) the rest of the way.
Harvard was never able to overcome Dartmouth’s big first-inning push. After conceding a leadoff walk to second baseman Micah Schroder, Crimson pitcher Olivia Giaquinto got the next two batters on a fly out to right and a called strike three. Giaquinto walked another Big Green batter before right fielder McKenna Gray stepped to the plate. The righty deposited a three-run homer over the fence in left field.
In one swing, Dartmouth scored more runs than it had in the previous 15 innings combined.
The Big Green’s senior-freshman pitching duo of Breanna Ethridge and Heather Turner combined to limit Harvard to just three hits and did not issue any free passes. Ethridge punched out four Crimson in the first three innings, and Turner followed with four shutout frames to earn her seventh win of 2018.
Harvard scored its lone run in the bottom of the fourth. Co-captain Maddy Kaplan led off with a double into right field, and after she advanced to third on a wild pitch, Lockhart matched her feat and laced an RBI double to right.
HARVARD 4, DARTMOUTH 1
Unlike in the highly contentious game one, the Crimson cruised to a 4-1 victory in game two on Saturday. Backed by timely hitting up and down the lineup and dominant pitching, Harvard clinched the series victory just before its Senior Day celebration.
“I think we had a sense of confidence late in [game one] in that we knew we would get the job done,” Lockhart said. “When we did get the win, we wanted to use that as fuel to keep going and win the second game of the day.”
After going 3-for-6 in the opener, junior shortstop Rhianna Rich kicked off this contest by ripping a double into left field. She came around to score the first run of the afternoon on a pair of groundouts.
Neither team would score again until the fifth, when the Crimson tacked on two more runs courtesy of some small ball.
Coach Jenny Allard threw a right-hander at Dartmouth, which had just seen 11 innings of southpaw pitching from junior Katie Duncan. Junior Sarah Smith followed up Duncan’s stellar performance in game one with five shutout innings to start the back end of the doubleheader. Smith struck out five and allowed just two hits and two walks.
The teams traded runs in the sixth. In the top of the inning, Big Green third baseman Morgan Martinelli hammered a solo homer to left field. Harvard countered in the bottom half of the frame by plating a run on a bases-loaded walk drawn by freshman center fielder Alyssa Saldana.
Despite throwing until her arm nearly fell off in game one, Duncan was good for two innings of relief in this contest. The junior spelled sophomore Alissa Hiener and recorded the final six outs, nabbing a one-hopper hit by Tiffany Dyson and throwing on to first to end the ballgame.
HARVARD 6, DARTMOUTH 5 (11 INNINGS)
Eleven innings. Forty-seven batters faced. One huge extra-innings win.
Duncan was a machine in the series opener. The junior battled through some early struggles and rattled off five consecutive scoreless innings to close out the game. Four of these frames were in extra innings, and in those innings she allowed just two baserunners.
“Any time I might have felt tired, I was inspired by my teammates’ hard work each and every inning in order to make incredible defensive plays or adjustments within their at bats,” Duncan said.
With a 5-5 stalemate lasting into the bottom of the 11th, junior second baseman Meagan Lantz got things started by reaching base on an error by Dartmouth shortstop Calista Almer. Lantz promptly stole second—her 13th stolen base of the season—and ended up at third after another error, this time by catcher Schae Nelson. The Crimson took advantage of these two fielding miscues, as Rich knocked an infield single to shortstop and Lantz raced home with the winning run.
“It took a lot of fortitude and confidence for us to play 11 innings against Dartmouth and ultimately walk away with a team win,” Duncan said.
Duncan struck out seven batters in a start for the second time this season, also matching her career high. Including her relief appearance in the second game, Duncan lowered her ERA to 2.53, recording her 13th win and third save of the season in the process.
In the bottom of the first, Lockhart started the scoring for Harvard by launching a home run to right-center. The junior leads the team with five round-trippers.
—Staff writer Jack Stockless can be reached at email@example.com.
Softball Drops Six of Seven at Hawaii InvitationalFollowing a hot start to its 2017 season, the Harvard women’s softball team faltered in Honolulu, Hawaii at the Rainbow Wahine Classic, losing six of its seven contests. All told, Harvard played 12 games in nine days between the Long Beach State Tournament and the tournament in Hawaii.
Softball Goes 1-3 in First Two Conference Doubleheaders
Black Delivers Clutch Hits, but Baseball Splits Weekend Slate
Softball Opens Schedule with 2-3 Finish at Citrus Classic
Softball Drops Three of Four Games in North Carolina