With a NCAA three-game play-in series against Brown lurking in the back of the softball team’ s mind, the Red could have easily taken yesterday’ s games against Siena for granted. Instead Cornell looked sharp and focused, taking both games from Siena, 7-3 and 4-2 (10 inn.). The team had a combined 15 hits on the day while extending its winning streak to 15 games.
The Saints opened the scoring early in the Game 1 when centerfielder Jennifer Griner hit a solo home run in the second inning. Cornell followed up with 3 runs of its own in the top of the third, but Siena tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a two-run shot by third baseman Sarah Rose. Sophomore Kirsten Landis started on the mound for the Red in Game 1 but struggled, giving up 3 runs on seven hits. Classmate Whitney Smith relieved Landis in the bottom of the fourth inning and closed out the rest of the game, throwing four scoreless innings while allowing only one hit.
“Their pitching did a nice job of keeping us at bay,” said head coach Dick Blood. “But solid defense and solid pitching kept us in the ball game.”
The Red took back the lead for good, scoring a pair of runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. Sophomore Caitlin Warren hit her first of two home runs on the day, while senior Lauren May hit her 16th home run of the season, tying the single season record for Cornell.
Cornell struck first in Game 2 with a run in the fourth inning, but Siena answered in the fifth, putting two runners on base with back-to-back singles. Rose then slapped a double to give the Saints a 2-1 advantage.
The Red tied things up in the sixth inning after May hit a single to deep center field and reached second on an error. Senior Melissa Cannon then shot a two-out single to right center field to tie the game.
“That was a clutch hit for us,” Blood said.
The game marched on into extra-innings as the starting pitchers for both teams matched each other with scoreless inning for scoreless inning. Cornell sent senior ace Sarah Sterman to the mound against the Saint’ s hurler Tara Campbell. Campbell had a streak of 44 consecutive scoreless innings in league play earlier in the season.
“[Campbell] spins the ball around, and makes you go up and down,” Blood said. “She’ s tough but Sterman matched her all the way.”
Finally Cornell broke the tie in the top of the 10th inning, when Warren hit her second home run of the day, a two-run shot, lifting the Red to the 4-2 victory over the Saints.
“We played outstanding defense,” Blood said. “We did a nice job. I’ m pretty excited.”
Sterman got her 20th win of the season while the Red improved to 39-11, 10-4 Ivy.
Cornell heads to Binghamton today for its last doubleheader of the regular season. Binghamton (16-21-2, 7-9 America East) boasts a solid power hitting team with 25 home runs on the season, as well as several strong pitchers, including 5′ -10″ senior Michelle Weeks.
“She’ s really tough,” Blood said. ” She throws very, very hard and averages nine or 10 strikeouts a game.”
Blood looks at tomorrow’ s games as a valuable tune-ups for this weekend’ s series against Brown.
“I think it’ s really great to be playing these games right now,” he said. “It challenges your hitters, it challenges your pitchers, and it keeps us sharp.”