After two tragically close losses to Princeton this past weekend, the Cornell softball team (16-13, 2-2 Ivy) is looking for a bit of respite from the pressure of its relentless Ivy schedule. The Red should find just that when it plays a double-header today against a St. Bonaventure team that has started the season 5-14, 4-0 — yet Cornell knows that looking past any opponent can be quite hazardous.
“[St. Bonaventure] has been playing really well recently,” said head coach Dick Blood. “They should be a good challenge for us.”
Before Sunday’s games against Princeton, the Red had been building a hot streak, winning four of its six games since returning from spring break. The Red’s bats had been none too quiet as Cornell racked up thirty-eight runs over that stretch and won two games by the six-inning, eight-run mercy rule.
“It is going to be important that we continue being aggressive at the plate,” Blood said. “Earlier in the year we had been taking too many pitches.”
While the Red’s bats have been doing noticeable damage, Cornell’s pitching staff has been holding up its end, allowing only 19 runs over the six games — including three games in which the opposing team crossed home plate only once. Freshman Jenn Meunier picked up three wins in her three starts, giving up only three earned runs in 21 innings pitched.
Unfortunately for the Red, the team’s good fortune fell apart in one inning in Sunday’s first game as the Tigers ferociously clawed their way back from a three-run deficit to win, 4-3. Although the Red got another quality outing from Meunier in the next game — she gave up only two runs in seven innings of work — its bats were silent the entire game and Princeton hit the road with a 2-0 victory.
“It was a tough way to lose that first [game],” Blood said. “Hopefully [today] we can shake some off the sting from last weekend.”
Luckily for the Red, it has a chance to bounce back today against the Bonnies.
The Bonnies welcome the Red to McGraw-Jennings Field riding high off a four-game winning streak — consisting of consecutive sweeps in doubleheaders against Daytona and Temple — that has put them near the top of the Atlantic-10 standings.
The Bonnies’ performance was fueled by pitcher Christine Keleher, who earned three wins and was named the Atlantic-10 Conference pitcher of the week.
At the plate, the Bonnies are led by junior Kristin Brunetto and senior Laurie Stone, who lead the team with eight RBI apiece. Brunetto also leads the Bonnies in the home run category, with two.
The Red will switch things up on the mound against the Bonnies, as freshman Jen Lesczinski will be making just her sixth start of the season. While Blood has been using her mostly in relief appearances, he hopes today will be a good opportunity for the young pitcher to gain much-needed experience.
“[Lesczinski] just needs to get some more innings,” Blood said. “I’m hoping that some quality innings can season her more at this level.”
When the two teams met last season, Cornell was able to take both games from the Bonnies, but the Red won’t depend on past glory to see it to victory.
“[St. Bonaventure] has a very athletic team,” Blood said. “Their top pitcher is an athlete and their top three hitters have all returned and they gave us trouble last year.”
Archived article by Matt Gorman
Sun Staff Writer