Matt Christopher couldn’t have written a better ending to the softball team’s (22-18, 6-6) openers on both Saturday and yesterday.
Sophomore Kate Varde was the heroine of Saturday’s opener. Her seventh inning, one out, 0-2 count homerun gave Cornell a 2-0 win over Ivy League foe Dartmouth (19-13, 5-5).
Pitching a phenomenal game, sophomore Sarah Sterman gave up only four hits to earn her 13th victory and fourth shutout of the season.
“She was really strong during that game,” praised head coach Dick Blood. “She really has been strong for us as we have struggled, and our kids have a lot of confidence in her.”
Sterman’s strong pitching set the stage for Varde’s blast. Senior Kristen Hricenak nailed a double to the outfield fence to open the seventh inning. Pinch runner, freshman Billie Boles, came in and was advanced to third on a bunt by senior Shara Freeman. Then Varde stepped up, and in an attempted suicide squeeze, almost saw Boyles picked off at third, but Boyles got back to the bag in time.
“It was just pure athleticism,” explained Blood of Boles’ quick reaction. “I was thankful; she did a great job getting back. It was one of those things that doesn’t go in the scorebook.”
After that play, Varde, down 0-2, refused to back down and sent the ball over the fence, giving Cornell the 2-0 win.
Blood shared the sentiment of the large crowd that had gathered at Niemand-Robison Field when he stated, “It was exciting softball.”
The second game of the doubleheader proved less fruitful for the Cornell crowd, as the team gave up eight runs on seven hits and had errors in the fourth inning, bringing the score to 10-2.
The Red tried to battle back with a three-run fifth inning, but the damage was done. Cornell dropped that game 10-5.
Yesterday’s games were rematches of last year’s Ivy League playoff, but the outcome was slightly different this time around.
Harvard entered the contest with a chance to take the Ivy League title, but with the loss to the Red, and a sweep by Princeton of Brown gave the Tigers the title.
“If Princeton sweeps, we will have acted as the spoiler,” Blood explained before knowing the results of the Princeton-Brown matchup.
The spoiler is a good term to describe the Red’s efforts in the first game as it defeated the Crimson 5-1.
Harvard tried to avoid pitching to freshman slugger Lauren May, but that could only last for so long.
With bases loaded in the fifth inning, Varde sent sophomore Sandra Alvarez home on a single over the head of the Harvard shortstop. Two batters later, Crimson pitcher Kara Brotemarkle had no choice but to pitch to May.
May’s response was a shot to the outfield, a double that drove home three runners. The three RBI brought her season total to 44, which ties Allison Batten’s 1998 record.
After May, sophomore Leah deRiel stepped up and also sent the ball flying to score May.
“They kept walking May and put this put the pressure on Leah deRiel,” Blood explained. “But it turns out later in the ball game they had to pitch to May. She and deRiel ripped bullets down the alley.”
“It was a great clutch performance by our club and another fine pitching performance by Sterman to the No. 1 offensive team in the league,” Blood added.
Sterman gave up three hits, one run, walked three and struck out four. Overall, Blood was pleased with his team’s performance in the opener.
“It was a nice win for us. It was a thrilling game,” he said.
The Red was unable to keep its momentum going into the second game, as it dropped the contest 5-3.
Inconsistency has been an issue for the team as it has now split games in its past six contests.
“We have been a night and day ball club,” explained Blood. “[We’ve been] solid enough to beat everyone on our schedule, and to lose to everyone on our schedule.”
The team will try to remedy this situation as it heads into its final Ivy matchups.
“We did nice things this weekend, and we have the chance to finish third in the league. The kids just want to make sure that we play well next weekend and finish in the top half of the league, possibly in the third spot,” concluded Blood.
Up next for the Red is the Orangewomen of Syracuse. The game is slated for 3 p.m. at Niemand-Robison Field.
Archived article by Kristen Haunss