April 15, 2004

Softball Sweeps Bonnies for Two Victories

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The day after the men’s lacrosse team sank under the rain and soggy conditions at Schoellkopf Field, the softball team played like the sun had been shining in Ithaca all year, as it dismantled visiting St. Bonaventure in two games yesterday afternoon. The wet turf at Niemand Robison Field proved to be fit for a power display, as the Red scored ten runs during the doubleheader on 18 hits to improve its record to 24-10 overall.

Senior outfielder Erin Sweeney banged in her fourth homerun of the year, and junior slugger Lauren May also went the distance in the Red’ s 4-2 game-one victory. Senior pitcher Sarah Sterman pitched six strong innings and struck out four to seal a 6-2 win in the second game.

“It was good to get the team back in the game,” said May of her homer. “I was glad to be able to contribute to the win.”

The weather bogged down the Red early in the first game, as the team fell behind 2-0 in the fourth inning when Bonnie’ s first baseman Kera Strong punched an RBI single to right center field off Cornell starter Kristen Landis. Yet, the Red’s veterans immediately responded in the fifth inning, as senior Kate Varde got on base with a bloop single to right, and May hammered her home with her 11th homer of the season, tying the score at two apiece.

“We had a little of a slow start,” head coach Dick Blood said. “But, as soon as we got our bats going, we felt all right.”

The rest of the game belonged to Landis (5-1), who shut down the Bonnies in the final few innings, finishing the contest with seven strikeouts and only two earned runs over seven innings of work. Landis also laid down a sacrifice bunt that set up Sweeney’s game-winning, two-RBI shot in the sixth inning.

“We didn’ t expect a big hitting game,” Blood said. “In those conditions, the players know that defense is going to be a big part.”

Bonnies starter Molly McCarthy took the loss, here seventh of the season, after giving up eight Cornell hits and striking out two Red batters.

The second game was a textbook example of what the Red has been striving for all season: timely hitting combined with an exceptional pitching performance. In this case, timely hitting meant six runs on six hits in the first two innings, with the opening two RBIs coming from senior Melissa Cannon off a single to left center. Sterman comprised the rest of the winning equation, striking out four batters and giving up only one earned run over six strong innings to earn her twelfth victory of the season. Sophomore Whitney Smith closed the door in the seventh, giving up a run but still notching her second save of the season.

“I was real comfortable throwing today,” Sterman said. “I never let the weather enter into how I think about a game — you can’t let it bother you. But I feel like I hit spots really well.”

The Bonnies tried to make a game of it in the fourth inning, scoring a run off a single from Lauren Krieger, but the rally fizzled out with the Red still holding a five-run advantage.

This weekend, the Red resumes its Ivy schedule with a series of home doubleheaders against Harvard on Saturday and Dartmouth (8-13) on Sunday. Blood and the rest of the squad realize the importance of mid-week games in preparing the team for its demanding league schedule.

“These games during the week are great for us,” May said. “Getting in reps, seeing the ball — it’s all great preparation for our league games.”