In its final games before kicking off its Ivy League schedule, the softball team (14-10, 0-0 Ivy) earned a split in a doubleheader with Siena (2-14). The first game saw Siena rally for three runs late in the game to earn a 3-2 triumph. In the nightcap, Cornell won with superb pitching and defense.
In the first game, Cornell scored one run in both the third and sixth innings to take a slim 2-0 lead. The first run came courtesy of a solo blast from senior co-captain Annette Sheppard. Sophomore Kate Varde delivered the second Cornell run with an RBI single which scored classmate Melissa Cannon, who had doubled earlier in the inning.
However, the struggling Saints tied the score in the bottom half of the sixth with a two-run, two-out rally. Pinch hitter Emily Day doubled, scoring Jodie Fiacco and Sarah Rose, who each earned their way on base via walks.
“Sterman was cruising along, and then lightning hit,” Cornell coach Dick Blood said.
The Saints finished their comeback in the seventh when Gretchen Gurr came through with another two-out base-hit, scoring Christina Teator and giving Siena a 3-2 win.
Amanda Cavitt earned the win in relief, while Red sophomore Sarah Sterman (7-4) took the loss despite allowing just six hits over 6-2/3 innings.
Despite four errors in the first two innings, Blood felt that his defense was strong.
“We didn’t allow any runs [after the errors],” he said of the miscues. “In fact, it was strong defense that kept us in the ballgame. That was quite encouraging.”
The second half of the doubleheader featured continued strong Cornell pitching, as sophomore Nicole LePera (7-5) earned her second shutout of the year and led her team to a 4-0 win.
The Red, shaking off the first loss, once again established a lead early when Varde hit her fourth round tripper of the season to give Cornell a 1-0 lead. However, that would be the last run either team would score until the top of the seventh inning.
In the top half of the final frame, Cornell exploded for three runs to break the game open, with the help of shoddy Siena defense. After Sheppard scored sophomore Sandra Alvarez on an RBI single, sophomore Erin Sweeney walked to put runners on first and second. Cannon then hit what appeared to be an inning ending grounder to Saints third baseman Rose. However, Rose committed a throwing error, which allowed both Sheppard and Sweeney to score.
LePera was dominant, striking out nine batters while scattering three hits and three walks over seven strong innings. She had a one-hitter going into the seventh final inning.
“She had a big curveball,” Blood noted. “Her breaking ball was working very well in the cold weather. She fielded her position well too. She was effective mixing speeds.”
The Red will next visit Ivy foe Penn tomorrow. According to Blood, his team has a great chance to win if it can contain Quaker third baseman Jennifer Moore.
“[Moore] is just a tough, tough player … one of the leading hitters in the league,” he said. “If we can settle her down, keep her off the basepaths, we’ll have a better chance of igniting our defense.”
Princeton, with whom Cornell split last season, represents the Red’s second stop this weekend.
“Princeton is tough this year. They’ve got a lot of pop – they’ve hit a lot of home runs this year,” Blood noted.
In addition, the Tigers have the Ivy League’s 2001 Pitcher and Player of the Year in Brie Galicinao. She was most recently been named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week for her performance last weekend.
“She’s tough. She’s going to work in and away, in and away,” said Blood.
Leading the defending Ivy League champs, Blood stressed his team’s need to start the league schedule with wins on the road.
“Everybody knows how tight the Ivy League is in all sports. So we can’t afford to lose — plain and simple,” he said. “We know those are games we have to win and we’re looking at them as being just as important as any games we play down the stretch.”
Archived article by Alex Ip