Heading into last weekend, the Cornell softball team was scheduled to play five games in three days, including a Saturday doubleheader against Columbia, in which the Red would begin its defense of the Ivy League crown. Instead, the Red took to Nieman-Robison Field for the first time this season in a Friday afternoon doubleheader against Siena — its only games of an otherwise rained-out weekend.
The Red ended the day with mixed results, as it dropped the first game, 9-3, but stormed back to take the second, 8-1.
“We weren’t really as sharp as we need to be [in the first game,]” said Cornell head coach Dick Blood. “We came back [in the second contest] and played a quality game.”
As the time rolled around to the game’s 2:00 p.m. start, the cloudless sky and endless sun seemed to portend a bright start to the Red’s first home game. Yet, the Siena bats quickly dispelled the hopeful aura by getting to Cornell starter, junior Whitney Smith, in the top of the first inning. The Saints first five batters reached base and Siena was able to build up a four-run lead, which they never relinquished.
The Red was able to hold the Saints scoreless until the fourth inning, before their bats heated up again. After loading the bases, Siena knocked Smith out of the game with a grand slam that opened up a 9-1 lead.
The Red would not let Siena cruise to victory, however, as freshmen Jenna Campagnolo and Ashley Wolf each had RBI base hits to cut the lead to 9-3. The Red threatened to do further damage, as it loaded the bases with no outs, yet the run-scoring hits were hard to come by.
“We just left too many runners on today,” Blood said. “[Siena] scored throughout and we couldn’t shut them down.”
Freshman Jen Lesczinski pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief for the Red, but the Cornell bats were silent for the remainder, giving Siena a win in the day’s first action.
The second game proved to be an entirely different story, as the Red was able to silence the Siena offense, while awakening its own.
Junior Caitlin Warren put the Red on the board first with a second-inning solo homer to left-center.
Not to be outdone, the Saints quickly tied the game in the top of the third inning with a solo shot of their own. That run would be the lone miscue by Cornell starter, freshman Jenn Meunier, who scattered five hits on her way to earning the complete-game victory.
Unlike the earlier game, Meunier was able to keep the Saints’ hitters off-balance and induce ground-ball outs by using a variety of pitches and keeping the ball low in the strike-zone.
“I was just trying to hit my spots and throw hard,” Meunier said. “I was using both my curve and change-up. It was good to get them both over [the plate].”
While Meunier had a particularly strong outing, the Red made sure she had a comfortable cushion by adding more runs in the bottom of the fourth.
Sophomore Erin Murtha drove in the Red’s second run with a single up the middle and senior co-captain Erin Kizer hit a sacrifice fly to put Cornell ahead, 3-1.
Siena’s only threat came in the top of the sixth, as the Saints loaded the bases with only one out and the Red up by a slim 4-1 margin. Yet, Meunier shut the door on any comeback attempt by striking out the next batter and ending the inning with a groundout.
“[Meunier] was really strong today,” Blood said. “That strikeout was the biggest play of the game.”
Cornell put the game out of reach in the second half of the inning, as Kizer hit an RBI double and freshman Samantha Hare hit a two-run homer.
“It was a good win and good to get back out there,” Blood said.
Archived article by Matt Gorman
Sun Staff Writer