April 28, 2004

Softball Beats Bombers

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The softball team has more than a few things to brag about this year. Not only has it clinched a share of the Ivy title, but after sweeping a doubleheader 6-0 and 5-4 yesterday from cross-town rival Ithaca College, the Red now owns bragging rights for the city as well. Cornell is currently 35-11 on the season and has won its last 11 consecutive games.

Ithaca was coming off a hot streak of its own, having won nine of its last ten games, while clinching the Empire-8 League title. Senior Lauren May quickly set the tone for the day in her first at-bat in the first inning, sending a rocket over the right center field wall to give Cornell a 1-0 lead.

One run would be more than enough for Cornell’s pitchers as senior Sarah Sterman pitched six scoreless innings and sophomore Kristin Landis closed out the seventh to complete the shutout of the Bombers.

Sterman and Landis combined to limit Ithaca to only two hits on the day. “I felt really good,” said Sterman. “My rise ball was on today and I felt like my curveball was working a little better than it has in the past.”

The Red kept the pressure up on the Bombers, adding three runs in the third inning and two more in the fifth inning. Sophomore Caitlin Warren hit her third home run of the season, a two-run shot in the third inning, while senior Erin Sweeney ripped her second triple of the year.

“We just hit the ball really hard and scored runs early,” said head coach Dick Blood.

The Bombers’ standout rookie pitcher Zahida Sherman came into the game in relief in the third inning. Sherman had been riding a streak of 36.1 consecutive scoreless innings — a streak quickly snapped by a single from junior Erin Kizer to score senior Melissa Cannon.

Cornell took another early inning lead in game two when Cannon launched a two-run bomb to left center field in the second inning. Sweeney followed with an RBI-single up middle to give the Red a 3-0 lead.

Sophomore Whitney Smith took the mound for the Red, squaring off against the Bombers’ Sherman. Smith pitched well in the early innings of the game, but struggled to find her spots and allowed Ithaca back into the game — giving up three runs in the top of the fourth and another run in the top of the fifth inning to put Cornell down 4-3.

“[Smith’s] feature pitch is the curveball and she was falling behind in the count with it,” Blood said. “She had to go with her fastball and that’s not her best pitch.” Senior Kate Varde tied the game for the Red in the bottom of the fifth. After reaching base on a single, she stole second and eventually scored on a passed-ball to knot the game at 4-4.

Sterman returned in relief for Cornell, pitching the Red out of a jam in the sixth inning with a crucial strikeout to end a Bombers’ threat.

“It was a wonderful relief job by Sterman. She just pitched really, really well today,” Blood said. “It was the same style performance as when she pitched in the 12-inning game against Princeton — just really crisp, really sharp, really motivated.”

In fact, the entire game was similar to the marathon at Princeton, as the Red and Bombers went to extra innings to decide bragging rights for the city. In a sudden death-like format, each team is given a runner on second base at the beginning of the inning.

While IC threatened with a runner on third in both the eighth and ninth innings, Sterman was able to come through with clutch outs to hold the Bombers scoreless.

“I was just trying to give them nothing that they could hit really well,” Sterman said.

Finally, Cornell broke the tie in the bottom of the ninth when Sweeney slapped a single up the middle to score Cannon and give the Red the 5-4 victory.

Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer