While a second consecutive Ivy League championship may be out of reach, the softball team heads into its final weekend of conference play with a chance to finish with a better record than it did a year ago.
The Red, which finished 10-4 in the league a year ago and currently sits in second place in the Ivy standings with a 9-3 record, will face non-league foe Quinnipiac (14-24, 9-7 NEC) tomorrow before taking on Columbia (21-23, 6-4 Ivy) in its final doubleheader of league play.
“[Princeton has the title] locked up,” said head coach Dick Blood. “We could cement second place with a split, obviously we could cement second place with two wins. Our job is to go out and play as well as we can the rest of the year. I like where we are right now.”
Cornell (26-16) has turned its season around, building a 10-game winning streak heading into this week. The turning point came after the first game against Brown on April 16, which the Red lost, 9-1, to fall to 16-16, 2-3 Ivy. The team came back in game two, fighting to a 3-2 victory, and hasn’t looked back since.
“We’ve made a lot of adjustments on the mound and at the plate and our attitude towards the game,” Blood said. “I don’t think we were playing hard all the time … four or five weeks ago we talked about a code of conduct, and that code was to play hard all the time. That’s the only code of conduct you should have as a ballplayer, it shouldn’t be any other way.”
Quinnipiac and Columbia will put this new code of conduct to the test this weekend. Quinnipiac is coming off a sweep of Monmouth, and split with Long Island before that. Despite the Bobcats’ sub-.500 overall record, the Red expects stiff competition tomorrow.
“You have to remember we’re comparing different leagues … we don’t really look at a team’s record and say, oh, this is going to be a mismatch,” Blood said. “We know every time we take the field it’s probably going to be a dogfight, and it has been all year.”
The Bobcats are led by Sammi Allendorfer, who is batting .257 with 16 RBIs. Kristen Sheriff has seen the most action on the mound, and comes into the matchup with a 4-10 record and a 2.98 ERA.
The final Ivy games of the year could also prove to be battle to the finish, with the Lions boasting the 2003 Ivy League Pitcher of the Year, junior Jackie Adelfio, who has a 12-10 record and 2.27 ERA so far this season. Classmate Megan Ivey provides support on the mound, with a 1.74 ERA and a 9-11 record in 2005.
“They have two of the top kids in the league … two of the top five pitchers in the league,” Blood said. “They’re very similar to Cornell softball — they have decent pitching, probably stronger pitching [than Cornell] at this moment. They have a pretty solid top of the order. I expect both those games to be really good ballgames.”
Kacy Kristman has led the Lions at the plate this season, hitting .292 with five home runs and 22 RBIs. Six other Lions have notched more than 10 RBIs this season.
As for the Red, the team has come together both on offense and defense in the past 10 games.
“I’ve seen a significant change in all of our players, from seniors right to freshmen. Every time the ball’s put in play, somebody’s busting up offensively or defensively. That’s been the biggest change in our team as a whole and the other big change has been that our pitchers have been much more aggressive. We’re not going to strike them out, we’ve got to get them to hit pitcher’s pitches.”
Senior co-captain Erin Kizer has come up big for the Red recently, bumping her numbers to a .264 batting average and 32 RBIs on the season. Kizer’s total RBIs are second only to classmate and co-captain Lauren May, who is hitting .473 with 36 RBIs and 12 homers, despite being intentionally walked by opposing pitchers. From his lineup to the pitching duo of freshman Jenn Meunier and junior Whitney Smith, Blood is proud of the way his players have stepped up.
“We want to win every time we play, and that’s the way it ought to be,” he said. “I think the top of the order through six and seven has done a wonderful job offensively for our ball club. Defensively, I’m really proud of the way the entire ball club has played. I don’t know what our defensive rating is in the league, and I don’t care. I just know that in my mind, we’re playing solid defense.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Assistant Sports Editor