Holding a 10-game winning streak and heading into an important weekend would certainly be an encouragement to any team. This is the situation the Cornell women’s softball team finds itself in, entering a two day span which may ultimately decide whether this season will see the Red win its second Ivy League title in three years.
The winning streak has come on the wings of consecutive sweeps of Ivy foes Brown, Yale, and Columbia, as well as non-league bashings of Canisius and Siena. The balanced play of the Red has propelled this club into its position at the top of the conference.
The pitching staff, which has performed well all year, has seen the consistency of aces senior Nicole Zitarelli and freshman Sarah Sterman, who are complemented by a variety of surprise contributions, such as the complete game gem thrown by rookie Nicole LePera this past Wednesday against Canisius.
The bats, which struggled early in the year, have recently come alive, prompted by the hot streaks of freshman Kate Varde and senior captain Charlotte Brombach. Of late, the lineup has also seen any spot from one to nine step up on any given night.
Of course, a streak alone guarantees nothing and the Red will have to be hitting on all cylinders this weekend to emerge successful. The much anticipated weekend pits the Red (6-0 Ivy) against Dartmouth (4-0), its lone partner at the top of the league, and defending champion Harvard (3-1) which is currently holding the second spot in the Ivies.
Dartmouth has beat Penn and Princeton on its way to the only other undefeated record in the league. It is led by senior Carrie Hoverman who is currently 30th in the nation with an amazing average of .410 at the plate.
The Big Green’s ace on the mound is freshman Lisa Caruso who was last week’s Ivy League Pitcher of the Week after shutting out Princeton and holding Penn to only one run.
Every year Harvard is the one series that any fan of Cornell softball makes sure to circle on their schedule and this year is no different. With its only loss coming to Princeton a week ago, the Crimson looks to be as competitive a team as any previous year’s squad. It is also the defending champ which mixes a sense of pride into the rivalry associated with this weekend’s contest.
The Crimson depends heavily on the plate performance of junior star Sarah Koppel who came into the season with a .324 lifetime average and is currently riding a streak which, two weeks ago, earned her Harvard Athlete of the Week honors.
Harvard is also a team which has lost many of its key players from last year’s title squad. Particularly crushing for the Crimson were the losses of Deborah Abeles, who holds five Harvard hitting records, to graduation and All-Ivy first-teamer Suzanne Guy who is taking the year off.
However, the Crimson has substantially made up for these losses, amongst others, by bringing in a very talented freshmen class.
This weekend is exactly what the Red has been gearing up for: an opportunity to show just how good it is and hopefully take a huge leap towards a goal it has been talking about since last summer.
Archived article by Scott Jones