Battling the elements and fierce completion, this weekend proved to be quite the challenge for the Cornell softball team. Traveling to Fairfax, Va., the team competed in the Cherry Blossom Classic against George Mason University and the University of Akron. The Red was able to come out 1-1 for the weekend, securing a close win over Akron 8-7, while being dropped by George Mason 5-3.
The two games were originally scheduled for Saturday, but extremely cold weather pushed play back to Sunday. The Red (2-5) traded leads with Akron (9-11), causing the game to head into extra innings. After the Zips took a two-run lead after the top of the eighth, freshman Zoe Hernandez came away with a clutch home run to give the Red the one-run victory.
Hernandez took pride in her ability to maintain her cool in the tight situation.
“It felt amazing to hit that home run, especially in such a high-pressure situation,” Hernandez said. “I knew my team needed me to step up and I really wanted to get a win for them. I didn’t really think about it, I just stepped up, saw my pitch and went for it.”
Freshman pitcher Katie Lew also credits the win to the Red’s ability to consistently keep the ball in play.
“In the close game against Akron, I think we had the upper hand because we were able to consistently keep the ball in play so that runners could be moved into scoring position,” Lew said.
Cornell was not able to ride the momentum from the earlier game into its game against George Mason. Despite a strong pitching effort from sophomore Maddie Orcutt — who pitched a complete game and only allowed three earned runs — the team was unable to overcome three errors and left seven baserunners on the field.
“The biggest challenge we had in the George Mason game was not being able to string hits together and leaving runners stranded on base,” Hernandez said. “It’s hard to get and maintain a lead without it.”
Lew added that injuries had a role in hindering the Red’s defensive play.
“It was difficult adjusting to the movement of positions,” Lew said. “We had some girls get injured so positions had to be moved. We also had a couple errors which hurt us by letting girls with speed get on base.”
Despite a chilly weekend, the team was unfazed from its experience in the Ithaca climate, which is crucial, especially during this time of the year.
“I don’t think the weather impacted our game as much as we thought it would since we’re used to playing in the cold,” Lew said. “We’ve also been getting outside to throw in the cold the past couple weeks so we’ve learned how to play when our muscles tighten up from the weather.”
Next weekend, Cornell will compete in the Delaware Invitational, where it will take on the University of Rhode Island and the University of Delaware. Despite splitting games this weekend, the team is confident in their ability to take on any opponent.
“I expect our competition to be tough going forward, but no team is unbeatable and I really believe in us,” Hernandez said. “We have a lot of talent and a lot of heart so I know we’ll do fine.”