April 21, 2003

Softball's Title Dreams Slip With Losses to Tigers

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The softball team (24-6, 7-3 Ivy) headed into the weekend riding a six-game winning streak and looking to take the lead in the Ivy League, as it squared off against first-place Princeton on Friday (18-12-1, 8-1). However, the defending champion Tigers asserted their dominance, sweeping the Red in a doubleheader by scores of 8-3 and 8-7. Cornell, led by a no-hitter from junior pitcher Sarah Sterman, rebounded the next day to sweep Penn, however, to remain in the hunt for the Ivy crown.

In the opener, Princeton’s offense, aided by two Cornell errors, drew first blood, scoring three runs in the top of the third to break a scoreless tie. The big hits in the inning came from Kristin Lueke, who tripled, and Melissa Finley, who doubled in a run.

Cornell struck back in its half of the third, though, when freshman MacKenzie Ryan hit a solo shot that drew the Red within two runs. The Red closed to within 3-2 in the bottom of the fourth when sophomore Lauren May smacked a solo home run to straight-away center field.

Princeton would score runs in each of the final three innings via the longball to blow the game open, however. In the fifth, Finley hit a two-run homer to extend the margin to three. Teammate Erin Valocsik hit a solo roundtripper in the sixth, and Erin Snyder hammered a two-run home run in the seventh.

Snyder earned the win in the opener, pitching a complete game, while allowing just three earned runs.

The Tigers opened the second game in the same way they ended the first one — hammering the ball. After Lueke led off the nightcap with a walk, Cristina Cobb-Adams gave Princeton an early lead with a two-run homer.

Cornell fought back to tie the score in the bottom half of the second, when junior Erin Sweeney delivered a key two-out RBI single that plated sophomore Melissa Heintz and Ryan.

Once again, Princeton responded, scoring a single run in the fourth before taking the game in the fifth. The big blow in the fifth inning came courtesy of Snyder, who launched a grand slam to right field. Princeton, would then add a run in the top of the seventh to extend its lead to 8-2. The Tigers needed every one of those runs, as the Red came charging back in the bottom of the seventh, striking for five runs. Junior Sandra Alvarez smacked a three-run homer and sophomore Caitlin Warren hit a solo shot in the inning. However, the Red fell short, falling by a run.

“It was very disappointing for us,” coach Dick Blood said of the losses. “We were totally outplayed. We were out-hit, out-pitched, and they played better defense. We didn’t play very well.”

Part of the problem for the Red was containing the normally light-hitting Princeton offense, which hit five roundtrippers in the two games.

“They hit the ball a ton,” Blood said.

Cornell bounced back on Saturday, though, taking two from Penn (7-23-1, 1-9) to remain in the Ivy hunt. Sterman was the star of game one, throwing a no-hitter, the first of her Cornell career and second in program history. Freshman Whitney Smith threw the Red’s first no-hitter earlier this season.

“The kids played exceptional defense,” Blood said. “[Sterman] was throwing a lot of offspeed pitches, getting people out in front, and popping the ball up.

“It was very exciting. It was nice to see her get that,” Blood added.

Alvarez gave Sterman all the support she needed, doubling in May in the second inning to give the Red a 1-0 lead. May would give Sterman an insurance run, hitting a solo homer in the fourth.

Sterman took care of the rest, facing just 23 batters while striking out two and walking one in earning the win.

In game two, May provided the offense once again. After Warren homered in the second inning to give Cornell a 1-0 lead, May connected for her third home run of the weekend in the third inning, a two-run shot to give Cornell a 3-0 lead. Heintz hit an RBI double later in the inning to give Cornell added insurance.

Freshman Kristen Landis earned the win, throwing six innings while allowing just one unearned run.

“I was pleased with the way we rebounded,” Blood said.

Also on Saturday, Princeton, split a doubleheader with Columbia, leaving it two games ahead of Cornell in the race for the Ivy title with four games remaining for both squads.

“We’re not out of the race because they did split with Columbia,” Blood said. “We need to win our four games next weekend and have them split.”

However, before Cornell finishes its Ivy slate next weekend against Yale and Brown, it will travel to face Syracuse tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Archived article by Alex Ip