Freshman Sarah Sterman made herself right at home on the Niemand-Robison mound yesterday as she led the Cornell softball team (16-11, 2-0 Ivy) to an 8-0 victory over Siena (9-11). Senior Nicole Zitarelli earned the 4-3 victory in the second game of Cornell’s homecomming.
The home opener was even more special to the team because just two days ago it was snow, not a softball diamond that encompassed the field.
Zitarelli expressed the sentiments shared by the whole team
“It is nice to be home,” she said. “It was impressive that they got the field ready when they did because we didn’t think there was anyway we’d be playing here. We had to shovel the snow off the field on Tuesday for practice, so it was nice to be home in front of a home crowd.”
Head coach Dick Blood also expressed his appreciation for the ground’s crew.
“A lot of the credit goes to the maintenance crew. They did a phenomenal job getting the field ready,” he said. “The maintenance crew just came out here and did a remarkable job.”
Sterman was nothing less than phenomenal on the mound, allowing just two hits, striking out four and walking none in the first game. Finishing the contest, Nicole LePera allowed just one hit and struck out two.
Sterman expressed her pre-game feelings about her home debut.
“It was so exciting,” she said. “I was really nervous to open on Niemand-Robison [Field]. I guess I was just nervous and excited about the first home game.”
Blood showed his faith in the freshman, stating, “Sarah threw very well, she has been throwing the ball quite well for us. She has good pop inside. She handled [Jodie] Fiacco, she really handled herself.”
Sterman didn’t need to be nervous for too long as the offense gave her more than enough breathing room.
When the offense has struggled, it has continually been the defense digging the team out. Yesterday, though the offense certainly held its own. Freshman Kate Varde drove in Melissa Cannon with an RBI double in the first to open the scoring. After that initial run, the team never looked back. Only held scoreless in the fourth, Cornell sent in at least one run every other inning.
The Cornell bats as well as fans certainly came alive as Kristen Hricenak, Erin Sweeney and Sandra Alvarez each nailed a homerun. This was Alvarez’s first career long ball.
Sterman enthusiastically expressed her sentiments about the hitting power of the Red.
“Definitely the offense won the game, they hit the ball so well,” she said. “The offense was awesome today.”
“We have had our ups and downs,” Blood added. “We crushed the ball in one game, and scraped by in the next, but we did hit the ball fairly well in the second game.”
In that second game, the Saints kept it interesting, but were unable to overpower the Red. However, it was Siena who got off to a quick start as the Saints sent in two runs off a hit by designated player Fiacco.
This lead held until a third inning single by Sweeney drove in Cornell’s first run. In an all-important inning, the Red put three more runs on the board to secure the win.
Overall the team was very excited to be at home and to add two more wins to the board.
“We just wanted to come out here and win the opener on our field,” commented Sterman. “I think we were pumped to do that.”
Senior captain Charlotte Brombach was excited about the victories and the mindset of her team.
“I think we are a lot more confident in ourselves and in our ability now,” she commented. “I like where we are now.”
This weekend is the team’s first true Ivy League weekend as it takes on Brown (5-20) tomorrow and Yale (12-13) )on Sunday. This is the first Ivy game for both Brown and Yale.
Brombach commented on this weekend’s games.
“It is going to be a dogfight, we have said that all along. We just have to take it one game at a time.”
Brown is a tough team and has defeated Cornell in the past few meetings. The Bears feature a strong pitcher who likes to throw it low.
Of the Bears, Blood stated that they are a very capable team.
Yale is also a solid athletic team. Its asset is its speed which it tries to utilize in every opportunity. Leading the way for the Bulldogs is Jesseka Bartholomew who has started all of the team’s 25 games, batting .346. Blood says that the Bulldogs posses better than average pitching, but they are hittable.
Brombach isn’t worried about the competition though.
“If we continue to see the ball and hit it well, we have nothing to worry about it. I think people are feeling very confident about themselves and that’s what we need to do. People are into it and that’s what we want and need going into the Ivies.”
The true test for the Red that may determine the outcome of the weekend is whether the offense will come out in full force for the Red.
Zitarelli believes that the offense will come ready to play, building on yesterday’s momentum.
“Its a big Ivy weekend coming up,” she said. “I think the offense has really gotten going, and I hope that will carry over to this weekend.”
The games begin at 12 p.m. at the Nieman-Robison Field.
Archived article by Kristen Haunss