April 2, 2001

Softball Takes 2 of 4

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A one-week layoff combined with the chilly weather of the Northeast cooled down the bats of the Cornell softball team this weekend. After hitting the leather off of the ball down in balmy Florida over Spring Break, the Red found it difficult to muster any offense against the Fairfield Stags on Saturday, as the team was defeated 4-1 in the first game of the doubleheader and 1-0 in a the nightcap.

The opener started inauspiciously for the Red, as the Stags jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning. Freshman Sarah Sterman allowed singles to Laura Sandonato and Brie Zimmerman to start the inning. After a Katie Caputi sacrifice bunt moved the runners over to second and third, Maria DiPilato reached first on a fielder’s choice, loading the bases. In a jam, Sterman induced a ground ball from Missy MacDonald, but the Red could not turn the double play, and Sandonato crossed the plate to give the Stags the early edge.

Cornell seemingly gained momentum in the top of the sixth, as a pair of freshmen combined to even the score at 1-1. Freshman Melissa Cannon started the rally by walking and then stealing second. Ivy League Freshman of the Week Kate Varde continued her hot streak with an RBI single, driving in Cannon.

The Stags however, answered in the bottom of the inning, scoring three times to put the game out of reach. Kerry Ellis supplied the big blow, hitting a two-out bases clearing triple to put the Stags up 4-1. Fairfield’s Erica Bell closed out the Red in the seventh, earning her fourth victory of the year on a five-hit performance.

The second half of the doubleheader was a pitcher’s duel between the two teams’ aces. Both pitchers held no-hitters through three innings, until Cornell senior Kelli Larsen broke the stalemate with a two-out single in the fourth. However, the Red could not generate any other hits the rest of the game, as Fairfield’s Melissa Santos completely shut down Cornell’s high powered attack.

Cornell senior Nicole Zitarelli matched Santos until the bottom of the eighth inning, when the Stags finally broke through. Frustratingly, the Stags managed to score in the extra frame without a single hit. Zimmerman was placed on second base to start the inning due to the intentional tie-breaker rule. Playing fundamentally sound baseball, Kristen Rodriguez bunted Zimmerman over to third. With one out and a runner on third, DiPilato executed a perfect suicide squeeze, scoring Zimmerman. Santos earned her eleventh win of the season with the one-hit jewel, and Zitarelli was the tough luck loser, allowing just two hits in the game.

After two tough losses on Saturday, the Red bounced back in a big way yesterday in its Ivy League opener against Columbia. Cornell swept the doubleheader in impressive fashion, riding its two dominant starting pitchers, Sterman and Zitarelli, in its 1-0 and 4-0 victories.

The first half of the day-night twinbill featured Cornell’s second straight 1-0 game. This time, however, the Red ended up on top. The Red’s only run of the game was an unearned run. Senior captain Charlotte Brombach led off the third inning with a single. She then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and then to third on a passed ball. With just one out and a runner on third, junior Julie Staub hit a sacrifice fly to give the Red the 1-0 advantage.

One run was all Sterman needed, as she pitched a complete game shutout for her eighth win of the season. The Lions seemed to put constant pressure on Sterman, but the freshman found ways to wriggle free from tough jams. Columbia had two runners on base in the second and fifth innings, and eight in the game altogether, but was unable to break through.

In the victory, Sterman allowed just six hits and one walk, while striking out seven. In the loss, Columbia’s Allison Buehler also tossed a fine game, yielding just five hits, one walk, and Staub’s RBI sac fly.

In its fourth game in two days, the Red completed the sweep of the Lions and improved its mark to 2-2 over the weekend. Once again, Cornell struck in the third inning, when freshman Erin Sweeney smashed a two-run homerun to give the Red a 2-0 lead. The Red padded its advantage in the fifth inning on three consecutive hits, including run scoring base-knocks by sophomore Drew Martin and junior Christina Trout. Through five innings, Cornell held a comfortable 4-0 lead.

Once again, pitching was the key to Cornell’s success, as Zitarelli posted her second strong outing of the weekend, blanking the Lions. She carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning and allowed just two hits and three walks in the game.

Archived article by Alex Ip