Senior co-captain Lauren May made sure her last games in a Cornell softball uniform were memorable ones. May hit a walk-off grand slam to power the Red (29-17-1, 10-4 Ivy) to a 6-4 win the first game against upstate rival Binghamton (10-25), then proceeded to go 4-for-4 in the second game, scoring the winning run in the final game of her collegiate career.
“[The first game] was a really exciting win,” said head coach Dick Blood. “Our whole ballclub was excited to turn a loss into a win.”
The Red led off the scoring in the bottom of the second when junior Caitlin Warren drove in senior co-captain Erin Kizer. The Red’s lead was short-lived, however, as the Bearcats answered right back in the top of the third to knot the score at one run each. The score stayed that way until the fourth inning when May capitalized on a Binghamton error and scored from second base to put the Red back in the lead.
Cornell starter freshman Jenn Meunier, held the Bearcats scoreless until the sixth when Chrissy Semon hit a two-RBI triple to put Binghamton on top. The Bearcats put another run on the board in the top of the seventh, making the score 4-2 heading into the Red’s final at-bats.
“That extra run was really important [for them],” Blood said. “Because of it we needed to string together a couple hits, then try and bunt to move the runners. Fortunately for us, that’s what we did.”
Sophomore Sarah Ruben started the Red’s comeback efforts by leading off the inning with a single over third base. Freshman Adrienne Matta would continue the Red’s rally in her role as pinch-hitter by reaching base on a single. With one out, freshman Ashley Wolf reached first on an error to load the bases and give Bearcats pitcher Katie Hansen the daunting task of holding a two-run lead against the prolific home-run hitting power of May.
To her credit, Hansen was able to work the count in her favor at 1-2, but May won out in the end and hit a line drive over the center-field fence to send her teammates charging out of the dugout to greet the hero at home plate.
Meunier earned the win for the Red, bringing her freshman campaign to a close with 17-4 record and a 2.38 ERA.
Despite the first game’s heroic finish, game two started off quietly as the Cornell starter, junior Whitney Smith, held the Bearcats scoreless in the first two innings.
As in the first game, Binghamton got on the board first by plating one runner in the third inning. In the bottom half of the inning, however, history seemed to be repeating itself as Ruben singled to lead off the inning and freshman Jenna Campagnolo hit an infield single to put runners on first and third. The next batter, Wolf, walked — again bringing May up to bat with her team trailing. While May did not replicate her earlier at-bat, she was able to drive the ball to the fence and score Ruben and Campagnolo.
Down but not out, the Bearcats tied up the score in the next inning and threatened to do further damage until Smith got the final two outs to keep the game tied.
“We snuffed out a couple rallies,” Blood said. “Smith had a couple of really big strikeouts for us.”
The score would remain tied until the seventh inning when the Red came to bat with a chance to win it in the final inning for the second time that day.
After Campagnolo flied out, both Wolf and May singled to put runners in scoring position with only one out. Sophomore Erin Murtha walked, giving Kizer a chance to end the game in her final at-bat in a Cornell uniform. Unfortunately for the Red, Kizer grounded out and Wolf was forced out at home. But the next batter, freshman Samantha Hare, picked up her teammate by scoring May on an infield hit to win the game for the Red.
The Red ended the season winning thirteen of its last fourteen games and finishing second in the Ivy League.
“It was a gratifying way to end the year,” Blood said. “We started to slowly put together our pitching and we got a lot of timely hitting. I am very proud of our team.”
Archived article by Matt Gorman
Sun Staff Writer