For the women’s softball team (16-12, 2-2 Ivy), the weekend presented a major speedbump in its quest for a repeat of last year’s Ivy championship. After sweeping a doubleheader from Penn in convincing fashion on Saturday, the squad was swept in a twinbill by Princeton yesterday.
In the first game of the trip, Cornell’s dormant bats came alive, as the team exploded in an 18-0 rout of the Quakers (11-20, 0-6). The team scored nine runs in the first two innings, and tacked on another nine in the fourth inning to evoke the mercy rule.
Senior Kristen Hricenak gave Cornell an early lead with a monster three-run home run in the top of the first to spot the Red with the early lead. Sophomore Sandra Alvarez hit her third roundtripper of the year to lead off the second, while sophomores Melissa Cannon and Kate Varde, and freshman Lauren May added run-scoring hits.
“Somebody stepped forward, and everybody followed suit,” Cornell coach Dick Blood said of Hricenak’s home run and the subsequent offensive onslaught.
Sophomore Sarah Sterman picked up her eighth win of the season with 3-2/3 innings of shutout baseball. Freshman Alyssa Brune got the final four outs to close out the Quakers.
In all, 12 players crossed the plate for the Red, and 10 had at least one RBI.
Cornell finished the sweep in the nightcap by a much narrower 3-1 margin. After Penn took its only lead of the day in the bottom of the third, Cornell quickly retook the lead with two runs in the top of the fourth. Sophomore Erin Sweeney hit a one-out triple and proceeded to steal home to knot the game at 1-1. Sophomore Melissa Cannon then walked and scored when Varde reached base on a single.
May provided an insurance run by hitting her 12th homer of the year in the top of the seventh.
Sophomore Nicole LePera scattered three hits and a walk over 5-2/3 innings to earn her eighth win of the campaign. Sterman came on in relief to earn her second save of the season.
The second stop on the road trip produced far different results, as the Tigers (17-13, 6-0) notched wins by spreads of 2-0 and 9-1. Princeton dominated both games with superb pitching.
Princeton pitcher Brie Galicinao held the Red to just one hit in the opener, while striking out five en route to a complete game shutout. Sterman matched the defending Ivy League Pitcher and Player of the Year for much of the afternoon, allowing just two earned runs on four hits.
“She was in good form,” Blood said of Galicinao. “She was tough and overwhelmed us.”
However, Sterman’s one hiccup was all that Princeton needed, as Melissa Finley smashed a two-run home run in the bottom of the second for the game’s only runs.
“Sarah Sterman pitched exceptionally well, almost as well as Galicinao,” Blood commented.
Princeton pounced on the Red early in the second half of the twinbill, scoring a run in the first inning and two more in the second. Kristin Del Calvo gave the Tigers the early lead with an RBI double, which scored Kristin Lueke. Lueke would also hit a two-bagger in the second, which plated two more Princeton runs.
After Cornell cut the lead to 3-1 on a Hricenak sacrifice fly in the fourth, Princeton blew the game wide open with a five-run fifth inning. The big blow, a grand slam, came courtesy of Del Calvo’s bat.
In order for Cornell to win, it must be able to put a lot runs on the board.
“Our team can win ballgames if we can hit,” Blood stressed. “We need to have hitting and timely hitting.”
Even with the two losses, Cornell still has a great chance at the Ivy crown given the relative parity of the league.
As Blood emphasized, “There’s a lot of time to make up ground. No one’s going to run the table.”
Archived article by Alex Ip