April 9, 2004

Softball Visits Key Ivy Rivals Yale and Brown

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For many teams, it’s easy to get a sickening sensation after being on the losing end of a 7-1 loss.

The best remedy for the softball team? Two dominating wins over Canisius of the MAAC on Tuesday.

Now, as the Red prepares for its second weekend of Ivy play — today at Yale and tomorrow at Brown — the team hopes the healing process will continue with four critical league victories.

“The games against Canisius were really important for the team,” said senior Kate Varde. “It’s always good for a team’s morale to pull off a 7th inning victory like we did in game one.”

Head coach Dick Blood knew that Tuesday’s doubleheader would be a key moment for the Red, coming off its first league loss with six outings against Ivy opponents still remaining in the regular season. Yet, as far as the team is concerned, when it comes to playing the other squads of the Ancient Eight, little is needed to get players eager to perform.

“We’re definitely getting geared up,” said senior pitcher Sarah Sterman. “A few nerves are beginning to kick in, but so is excitement. We’re all ready to play.”

The Red went into Tuesday’s games hoping to correct a few of the errors that plagued it against Columbia, namely producing timely hitting and cutting down on defensive problems. Indeed, a cure was discovered in Buffalo, as the Red exploded for 14 runs on 17 hits, including 10 in the team’s 8-0 shutout victory in game two. Furthermore, the Red committed only four errors against Canisius, a far cry from the seven it committed in the loss to the Lions.

Today and tomorrow, the Red hopes to continue improving both at the plate and in the field, especially with thoughts of the league title starting to trickle into the players’ minds.

“We’re going to have to play a lot of defense,” Sterman said. “That’s the biggest thing we need to work on.”

Defense will be particularly important against the Bulldogs (17-13), who boast a 1.76 team ERA and average less than two errors per game. The Red’s hot bats will certainly be tested by Yale’s exceptionally effective pitching trio, consisting of sophomores Beth Pavlicek, Peggy Hunt and Ashley Linnenbank, who have a combined record of 15-7 and who each boast an ERA of less than 1.00.

“Everyone is hitting the ball really well,” Varde said. “This [hitting] should give us some confidence for the weekend.”

While the Bulldogs lack a true power hitter, they have been successful at putting the ball in play at key moments throughout the season. Nevertheless, Red pitchers Sterman, Whitney Smith and Kristen Landis will be on the lookout for Bulldog first baseman Chelsea Kanyer, who leads the team with a .376 batting average in 86 at-bats this season. Junior Kristy Kwiatkowski is tops for Yale with 16 RBIs.

The Bulldogs have won 11 of their past 12 games, including a win over national powerhouse Seton Hall.

Tomorrow’s game against Brown (7-12) in Providence, R.I., should prove a little easier for the Red, as the struggling Bears have dropped five of their last six games. Yet the Bears have found some success at home, going 1-1 against Stony Brook last weekend in their home opener. Brown is led by sophomore Jaimie Wirkowski, who has 15 RBIs in 19 games this season, and senior Laura Leonetti, who has scored 19 runs on 21 hits thus far.

Yet, regardless of the opponent, Cornell’s players are prepared to take on anything and anyone.

“Every day in the Ivy League is pretty tough,” Varde said. “Everyone just has to go out there and do the best we can.”

Archived article by Kyle Sheahen
Sun Assistant Sports Editor