In a tune-up effort for the crucial upcoming Ivy League weekend, the Cornell women’s softball team squared off against St. Bonaventure. The Red could have easily looked beyond the 3-23 Bonnies. Instead, it took care of business and did what any good team does: dismantle an inferior opponent.
In the first half of a doubleheader, Cornell struck early and often, scoring in each of the first three innings. The Red struck for three runs in the top of the first, keyed by a two-run bases-loaded double by junior Christina Trout. A solo home run by freshman Melissa Cannon extended the lead to 4-0 in the top of the second. However, the Bonnies fought back, scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning, to trim the deficit to one.
In the next half inning though, Cornell once again took control of the game by scoring four times. Junior Kristen Hricenak led off the inning with a double, which was followed with a single by Trout. Allison Batten responded by smashing a timely double to score both Hricenak and Trout. Junior Annette Sheppard capped the rally with a double of her own to score Batten, giving the Red a 7-3 edge.
The Bonnies scratched for single runs in the third, fourth, and sixth innings, but could not overcome Cornell’s lead. Freshman Sarah Sterman was the winning pitcher, hurling five strong innings and allowing five runs, only two of which were earned.
In the nightcap, the story was senior pitcher Nicole Zitarelli. The ace threw six and one-third innings of shutout ball, allowing just six hits.
Meanwhile, the Cornell offense gave her plenty of support.
Both starting pitchers would not relent in the first four innings, as neither team could put a dent on the scoreboard.
In the its next opportunity, however, Cornell put up a crooked number. After a Sweeney single and a Varde hit-by-pitch, Hricenak nailed a two-run double to open the scoring. Trout then followed with a single to put the team up 3-0.
Cornell also added runs in the fifth and seven innings to round out the scoring.
At this juncture, the Cornell softball team can concentrate on the all-important Ivy match-ups this weekend. With an 8-2 record, the team has positioned itself in the driver’s seat. Four games remain on the Big Red’s docket, as it holds a one game advantage over Dartmouth and a two game edge over Harvard in the conference. If the team can run the table, it will earn at least a share of the Ivy League crown. Standing in the way are Ivy foes Penn and Princeton.
On Saturday, Cornell will host the cellar dwelling Quakers, who come to East Hill with a 2-6 mark in league play. However, having already been eliminated from title contention, Penn would like nothing better than to play the role of spoiler.
After starting the Ivy League season by losing its first four games, the Quakers have righted the ship. They have won two of their last four games, with doubleheader splits against Brown and Yale last weekend. The team, however, has lost its last three overall, including the second game of the Yale doubleheader and a two game sweep at the hands of Villanova on Wednesday.
At the plate, the Quakers have had trouble scoring runs this season. As a team, Penn has only hit .241 and has a total of five home runs on the year. The anemic offense has only been able to muster 99 runs in 35 games.
However, the lineup does feature several strong hitters in Deb Kowalchuk and Erin O’Brien. Kowalchuk leads the team with a .341 batting average and has been a terror on the base paths with seven stolen bases. O’Brien leads Penn in both home runs (2) and RBIs (13).
In addition to their hitting woes, the Quakers have not had much success on the mound either. Both their starting pitchers have ERAs well over 4.00 and feature losing records. Compounding this weakness, the defense has not given the pitchers much support, evidenced by the second game against Villanova, in which Penn committed seven errors.
Sunday’s opponent, Princeton, will be a stern test for the Big Red. The Tigers have a storied tradition in softball, and despite their 3-5 record this season, they are no doubt a threat. The team is on a roll, having won four of its past six games including wins over Yale and Brown.
The potent Princeton lineup is spearheaded by Brianne Galicianao and Kim Veenstra. Galicianao leads the team in batting average (.397), home runs (3), and RBIs (15). Veenstra is second on the team in batting average, hitting at a clip of .329. She has also launched three dingers and driven in eleven runs.
Galicianao excels not only at the plate but also on the mound. She is undoubtedly Princeton’s toughest pitcher and one of the best in the entire league. She sports a Pedro Martinez-esque 0.98 ERA and leads the Tigers with six wins, including four complete game shutouts. In 86 innings of work, she has allowed just 87 base runners.
Princeton’s second starter, Sarah Jane White is no slouch either. She is 5-4 on the season and has a 2.79 ERA.
More than likely, the Big Red will pitch Zitarelli and Sterman this weekend. Zitarelli has recovered from a rocky start to the season, and has regained her form as one of the best pitchers in the Ivy League. She has allowed just four earned runs in her last 28 innings, including a 2-1 complete game win over Harvard last Saturday. Sterman has pitched consistently well all season long and leads the team with 12 wins.
Cornell has undoubtedly the best offense in the league and is led by Varde. The newcomer earned her second Ivy League Rookie of the Week award this past week for her three-home run performance against Dartmouth last Friday. In addition to Varde, the Big Red features four other hitters batting above .300, and six others with at least three home runs.
If Cornell can continue playing the way it has been playing all year long, it will be able to celebrate an Ivy League title at Niemand Robinson Field this weekend. Games start at Noon on both Saturday and Sunday.
Archived article by Alex Ip