Freezing winds and blustering snow couldn’t cool off the red hot bats of Cornell as the softball team swept a doubleheader, 6-4 and 8-0, against Canisius College yesterday. The wins bring Cornell’s record up to 20-8 on the season while Canisius falls to 9-15.
Game one opened ominously for Cornell as Canisius, in a fashion reminiscent of Columbia’s recent 7-1 drubbing of the Red, jumped out to an early 2-0 first inning lead. The Griffins added two more runs to cushion its lead in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out rally driven by the back-to-back doubles of Caitlin Lever and Beth Enk.
“We’ve got to be crisp early in the ballgame. We can’t keep digging ourselves a hole, but fortunately we remained calm and caught a couple of breaks,” said head coach Dick Blood.
Things began to turn around in the sixth inning when Cornell loaded the bases as senior Kate Varde walked, junior Lauren May doubled, and classmate Melissa Heintz was hit by a pitch. Senior Melissa Cannon then followed with a sacrifice fly that scored Varde, and sophomore Kirsten Landis hit an infield single to cut the Griffins’ lead to two.
In the top of seventh with time running out for the Red, senior Erin Sweeney started a one-out rally with a single down the left field line. Senior Sandra Alvarez then pinch hit for freshman Erin Murtha, and four balls later found herself on first base. This set the stage for Varde and May who proceeded to hit back-to-back homers giving the Red a 6-4 comeback victory. The home run by May was her team-leading tenth of the season.
“I think the difference for us was we were very selective in the first five innings, looking for a really good pitch to hit,” Blood said. “We got a little more aggressive in the last two innings and hit the ball a lot harder.”
Landis pitched five innings for Cornell giving up four runs on six hits while tallying seven strikeouts. Sophomore Whitney Smith closed out the game, pitching two innings and allowing only two hits for her sixth win of the season.
“Landis had a slow start but pitched well after that in the middle innings and Whitney did a good job of relieving her,” Blood said.
Cornell turned the tables on Canisius in the second game, jumping out to an early three run lead in the first inning. Cannon had her first home run of the season, while Heintz hit the first of back-to-back home runs in the game — a towering shot over the left field fence. Sweeney followed up in the second inning, hitting her third home run of the year which increased the Red’s lead to four.
Cornell tallied three more runs in the third inning, highlighted by the second of Heintz’s home runs on the day — a two-run shot to give Cornell a commanding 7-0 lead. Varde finished up the scoring for the Red in the fourth inning, crossing home plate after a line drive single up the middle by May.
Senior ace Sarah Sterman turned in another strong pitching performance for the Red, giving up only three hits while striking out four and walking none.
Cornell also showed improvement defensively from its games against Columbia, committing fewer errors in costly situations.
“There was no doubt we were more solid defensively,” Blood said. “We made our mistakes early in the ball game and after that we stepped it up and played a very solid defensive game.”
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer