April 6, 2004

Softball to Battle Canisius Before Heading to Yale

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After tearing through Florida over spring break with an 11-4 record and overcoming Columbia in the first Ivy League game of the season last Saturday, the softball team found itself in an unfamiliar position Sunday morning: just average. The Red dropped game two of the doubleheader to the Lions Saturday afternoon, 7-1, in a game characterized by defensive lapses and a lack of timely hitting.

The loss dropped Cornell’s Ivy record to 1-1 on the season.

Yet the Red (18-8) hopes to prove that mediocrity will not be acceptable this season as the squad chases defending champion Princeton for the Ivy League title. Moreover, according to head coach Dick Blood, a crucial part of that overall goal is remaining focused between league games.

“We played very poorly in the second game [against Columbia],” Blood said. “But we’re going to use [the game] to stay sharp for next weekend.”

Today the Red heads up to Buffalo for an afternoon doubleheader against the Canisius Golden Griffins at Demske Sports Complex. The Griffs (9-13, 1-1 MAAC) will serve as a midweek tune-up for Cornell before the Red returns to its Ivy schedule next weekend at Brown and Yale.

However, for Blood and the rest of the team, today’s game will also serve to erase the memory of the squad’s collapse against Columbia.

“When we have a loss like that, you tend to think that we didn’t play up to our level,” senior Sandra Alvarez said. “We need to start playing to our potential.” After scoring 78 runs in a power display over spring break, the Red managed just seven hits and one run against the Lions in the second game, committing seven errors in the process. Starting pitcher Whitney Smith, who took the loss in the contest, gave up only two earned runs.

“Barring all defensive problems, we still need to hit,” Alvarez said. “We need to consistently produce when people are on base.”

Today’s matchup with the Griffs should provide a golden opportunity for the Red’s bats to wake up against some quality pitching prior to its next round of league games. Canisius is renowned for its ability to keep games low-scoring, having given up an average of only 1.5 runs in the team’s last six games.

This defensive effort has been led by the Griffs’ stellar pitching staff, headed up by ace Andrea Bunten (3-2, 2.31 ERA). The hard-throwing junior has struck out 50 batters in only 39.1 innings of work, and is likely to pitch against the Red in one game today. Cornell will also be on the lookout for rookie Lindsay Garbacz, who, in spite of a 2-6 record, has proved to be extremely adept at baffling hitters early in games and eating up innings. In 13 appearances, the freshman has already fanned 29 opponents.

Furthermore, the Griffs do not have a position player with a fielding percentage below .900.