With the regular season winding down and postseason play on the horizon, the Cornell women’s softball team will play a mid-week non-conference doubleheader at nearby rival Syracuse today. After crushing the Ithaca College Bombers on Tuesday in a lopsided 9-1 affair, the Red showed that it is not merely basking after winning the Ivy League crown.
“We need to stay sharp and keep our edge,” senior captain Charlotte Brombach said.
In contrast to Cornell, the Orangewomen have a light-hitting lineup. Syracuse has an anemic offense with a team batting average of just .193. Christina Holowich leads the team with a .308 rate, while Missy Bieman is tops in both home runs (three) and runs batted in (13). In 35 games this season, Syracuse has managed to score just 55 runs, which equates to fewer than two runs per contest.
Although Syracuse struggles at the plate, it has a superb pitching duo. Tara DiMaggio holds a minuscule 1.62 ERA in over 90 innings of pitching. Opposing hitters have just a .208 batting average against her.
“DiMaggio is a very tough pitcher,” Brombach noted. “She’s got good zip on her ball. She can spin it up, down and across the plate.”
The Orangewomen’s other pitcher, Heather Brown, is the workhorse of the staff. She has already thrown 130 innings this season, including 13 complete games and four shutouts. Like her teammate, she too has dominated opposing batters, holding them to just a .239 clip. While both pitchers have been phenomenal, they each have losing records, which can be traced to poor run support.
In spite of Syracuse’s 13-22 record, Cornell will not take the Orangewomen lightly. In last year’s doubleheader against Syracuse, the two teams split a pair of games on East Hill. DiMaggio threw a two-hitter and struck out 11 in a 1-0 shutout victory in the first game. Cornell salvaged the second game, winning 3-2.
Cornell comes into the game blazing hot both at the plate and on the mound. Senior Allison Batten won Ivy League Player of the Week honors after hitting .667 with three home runs this past week. Classmate Nicole Zitarelli won Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors after tossing 16 innings of shutout ball and lowering her ERA to 2.24.
Based on statistics alone, one would expect a lopsided affair. However, games are played on the field, not on paper. Furthermore, one must remember that Syracuse plays in the tough Big East conference.
“They’re a really tough team,” Brombach stated. “Those are all scholarship schools they’re playing, and there are some great pitchers that they go against.”