After a disappointing Ivy League opening weekend, the women’s softball team looks to get back on track against Canisius today in a doubleheader at Neimand-Robison Field. The Red (14-4, 1-1 Ivy) is coming off a split with Columbia, while the Golden Griffins (8-16, 0-2 MAC) haven’t played since being swept by Rider last Monday.
While the upstate wintry weather has been both teams’ biggest headache this season, their on-the-field performances have varied in several ways.
The Red has seen a surge of offense from a talented freshman class, as well as its corps of seasoned veterans. Often winning by margins of four and five runs, the Red has dominated teams en-route to an impressive non-conference opening act.
The Red has counted extensively on the long ball, tallying 18 home runs to date while outscoring its opponents 102-41.
Fellow All-Ivy first teamers, sophomore Lauren May and junior Kate Varde, are back on track as well. Varde is currently batting an astronomical .491, while leading her team in hits (26), doubles (8), RBI (21), total bases (43), slugging percentage (.811), and on-base percentage (.562).
May, though forced to battle a high-ankle sprain for much of the season, has also been spectacular, proving why she was the Ivy League Rookie of the Year last season.
The sophomore power hitter currently boasts a .366 batting average, along with four dingers, 18 RBI and a .780 slugging percentage.
Surprisingly strong performances have also been gleaned from senior co-captains Drew Martin (.333) and Melissa Cannon (.309).
While the Cornell bats have shown bright in 2003, it is the pitching staff which has been particularly effective this year.
The tandem of junior Sarah Sterman and freshman Whitney Smith have undeniably been head coach Dick Blood’s biggest asset.
Sterman is currently riding a 1.43 ERA, thanks to a cool 39 strikeouts and .236 opponent batting average. She is 10-3 and has already earned Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors twice this season. The most recent honor came after last weekend’s performance against Columbia. Sterman gave up just one run in 10 innings of work against the Lions.
Smith has been almost as successful as her veteran counterpart. Smith was named Ivy Pitcher of the Week two weeks ago, after winning four consecutive starts, while maintaining an impressive .5 ERA during the stretch.
On the season, Smith is 4-1 with 26 strikeouts in 41 innings pitched. Smith also etched her name in the Cornell record books earlier this season, posting just the third no-hitter in the program’s history against George Washington.
The one weakness for the Red has been a lack of consistency from an ever-changing defensive line-up. Cornell has endured 23 errors this season and will need to improve on its performance in the field today and this weekend.
While the Red can point to a single flaw in its armor, the Griffins have experienced an overall breakdown in many aspects.
Canisius has often seen itself plummet into entire weekends of offensive impotency. At one point during its spring break trip, the Griffins lost eight straight games, five of which saw them get shut out.
The Griffins have been shut out a total of nine times this season and have only scored 11 runs in their 16 losses.
Still, the Red will look to improve itself today before playing a very important pair of league games this weekend. Cornell will visit Harvard this Saturday before heading to Hanover to take on Dartmouth on Sunday.
Both meetings are scheduled as doubleheaders. Today’s games start at 3 p.m.
Archived article by Scott Jones