Kicking off its Ivy League schedule on Friday, the softball team faces the daunting task of playing a doubleheader against Harvard — the Red’s chief rival for the past two years. The Crimson (12-7) defeated the Red in last year’s Ivy League championship series, after falling to the Red the previous year. Cornell also has a doubleheader against Dartmouth on Saturday.
The Red begins Ivy play at noon at home on Niemand-Robison Field, entering the contest with a 9-10 record after going 5-6 over Spring Break. However, Cornell starts the most important part of its schedule, since Ivy League opponents count for one point each in the standings that determine who plays in the championship.
“We have had such a long history with Harvard,” said senior captain Katie Watts. “So, it is very exciting for us to open our season with such a big rival.”
Watts noted that the Crimson’s main strength is its pitching staff, pointing to the standout talent of senior Rachel Brown.
Head coach Dick Blood echoed Watts’ worry over Harvard’s pitching.
“The main question will be can we hit Brown in the first game, while silencing their bats,” he said.
“Our main focus is going to be on playing solid defense,” Watts said. “We have had a lot of experience over this past break, so I do not think that should be a problem.”
Despite the excitement and focus on Harvard, Blood and Watts noted the equally important doubleheader against Dartmouth.
“We have to focus on each opponent because they all count the same at the end,” Watts said. “We just have to take it game by game, out by out.”
The Green (7-8) is very similar to the Red, according to Blood. Dartmouth has hard hitting and a solid pitching staff. Freshmen pitcher Kristen Rumley won Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors this past week.
“We are going to be tested in every ballgame,” Blood said. “But, our main focus should be shoring up our defense as we have had a few errors in the past couple of games.”
The head coach highlighted a few players to look forward to this weekend, such as senior captain Erin Keene. The captain is batting .281, with 2 HR and 8 RBI. Sophomore infielder Jenny Edwards leads the team in HR’s (3) and RBI (11). Sophomore pitcher Alyson Onyon could pose additional problems for the opposing batters, as she boasts a 4-2 record with a 2.75 ERA, including throwing three complete games.
“Our record does not reflect where we should be,” Watts said. “The problem so far has been the inability to put all the pieces [offense, defense and pitching] together in one game. Hopefully, with the pressure and stress that the Ivy League season brings, we will be able to do it.”
Original Author: Scott Eckl