Cornell picked the right time of the year to be playing its best softball. With perennial rival Princeton lurking ahead this weekend, the softball team extended its winning streak to five games, as it swept a doubleheader, by scores of 7-6 and 4-3, against Syracuse.
Junior Melissa Heintz went a combined 3-for-6 for the Red, with all three hits coming as doubles, including a bases-clearing shot in the bottom of the seventh inning to give Cornell a 7-6 come-from-behind victory in game one.
The Red found itself down early in the first game when Syracuse grabbed a three-run lead off two homers in the top of the third. Cornell answered back in bottom of the inning, loading the bases for senior Kate Varde, who hit an infield single to score classmate Melissa Cannon and freshman Sarah Ruben.
Despite a diving barehanded tag by sophomore third baseman Caitlin Warren to foil a suicide squeeze, Syracuse added two more runs in the fifth. Cornell again responded in the bottom of the inning, this time with a double to right field by Heintz, cutting the score to 5-4.
Sophomore Kristen Landis took the mound for the Red, but struggled to find the zone, giving up five runs on seven hits, with five walks in five innings.
“She was having trouble getting any off-speed pitches over the plate,” said head coach Dick Blood. “And you know when that happens against a good-hitting ball club they’re just going to destroy the fastball.”
Landis was relieved by classmate Whitney Smith who had a solid outing, throwing a variety of off-speed pitches that kept the Orange batters off-balance. However, Smith made one mistake in the sixth, leaving a fastball over the plate for Syracuse’s Alexis Switenko who drilled a shot over the left field wall putting the Orange up 6-4.
The Red refused to surrender to Syracuse, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh for Heintz. Syracuse’s freshman pitcher, Courtney Mosch fell behind early in the count, 2-0, to Heintz. Mosch served up a fastball down the middle of the plate that Heintz drilled to right center passed a diving right fielder for the game winning double.
When asked what was going through her mind when she hit the base clearing double Heintz responded: “Absolutely nothing — I try not to think at bat that way. I just let my instincts take over.”
Game two saw the Red take an early 2-0 lead on yet another double by Heintz, a ground ball shot up the middle, in the third inning.
“She hit the ball really well in both games,” Blood said. “That ground ball she hit the two runs in with ended up bouncing off the fence it was hit so hard.”
Senior Sarah Sterman pitched for the Red in game two, silencing the bats as well as the raucous bench of the Orange. Yet Sterman slipped up in the sixth, giving up a three-run homer to Switenko, leaving the Red down by one. Cornell again had the answer and this time it was junior Lauren May who saved the day, hitting a solo shot in the sixth inning to tie the game, and then a single in the seventh which scored classmate Erin Kizer to win the game.
Cornell is now 29-11, and 6-4 Ivy on the season. The Red has a chance to determine its Ivy League destiny when it plays its final Ivy League games of the season this weekend, away against Princeton (19-14, 6-4 Ivy), on Saturday, and Penn (9-25-1, 1-9 Ivy), on Sunday.
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer