The Cornell softball team opened its season far away from the freezing Ithaca temperatures at the George Mason Patriot Classic in Fairfax, VA. Unfortunately for the Red, the warmer weather couldn’t unthaw its bats or pitching arms, as the team struggled to a 1-3 record in its opening weekend.
“Our pitchers were really challenged this weekend,” said head coach Dick Blood. “Right now we just need to continue to grow and get better.”
In its first game, the Red fought against the deadly combination of limited batting practice and a hot pitcher in a 2-0 loss to Syracuse. Orange starter Courtney Mosch put the Red in a dubious place in the Orange’s record-book by throwing the team’s first ever seven-inning no-hitter. Mosch struck out six and walked only one Red batter on her way to the complete-game victory. Red starter, junior Whitney Smith, pitched 3 2/3 innings of shut-out softball, allowing only three hits and striking out five. Smith was then relieved by freshman Jenn Meunier who gave up runs in the fifth and sixth innings to break the scoreless tie.
“I’ve got to give [Mosch] a lot of credit,” Blood said. “She really baffled us.”
The Red’s bats could not be silenced for the whole day, however, as the team exploded for a 9-run outburst on its way to a 9-1 victory over George Mason. The Red started off quickly with a six-run second inning led by a bases clearing double by freshman Ashley Wolf for her first career hit. In the later innings, the Red displayed the kind of power hitting that led it to last year’s Ivy League title, as it won the game going away on solo homeruns from seniors Lauren May and Erin Kizer, as well as freshman Samantha Hare.
“This time we got the bats going right away,” Blood said. “[Wolf] hit the ball hard all weekend and really broke the game open for us against [George Mason].”
The Red’s offensive success quickly dissipated in its first game on Sunday, as it faced Syracuse in the first game of another double-header. Holding the Orange scoreless until the third inning, freshman starter Jen Lesczinski allowed four runs in the third and ended up giving way to Meunier in the fourth. After allowing two more runs, the Red narrowed the lead to 6-2, when sophomore Sarah Ruben hit a two-run homer in the fifth. The comeback was stopped short, however, as the Orange scored four more in the sixth and ended the game with the eight-run mercy rule.
“The freshman really had their hands full,” Blood said. “[Syracuse] is a really good and seasoned ballclub.”
The Red’s final game of the weekend, a rematch with George Mason, seemed to be going the way of the team’s first meeting. After two scoreless innings, Kizer staked the Red to a three-run lead with a third inning homer — her second of the weekend. May then provided the Red with an insurance run with an RBI double in the fifth. Leading 4-0 going into the seventh and final inning, the Red appeared to have the game locked up. Unfortunately for Cornell, starter Whitney Smith allowed five runs in the game’s final inning to give the home team the victory. Smith went the full 6 2/3 innings and ended the game with seven strikeouts.
“She simply ran out of gas,” Blood said. “Maybe I should have taken her out, but I really thought she could get through the inning.”
Looking back on the weekend, Blood cited pitching, as the team’s main area for improvement.
“We need to start moving the ball around and pitching ahead in the count.” Blood said. “We are just giving our opponents too many hitter’s pitches.”
The Red will return to action this coming weekend, as it heads to Drexel and Delaware to play a pair of double-headers.
Archived article by Matt Gorman
Sun Staff Writer