April 7, 2006

Softball to Open Ivy Slate

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After two disappointing losses to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday, the softball team will have a chance to rebound this weekend with four home games. The Red is set to open its Ivy League schedule this weekend with double-headers against Dartmouth and Harvard on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The Red (14-15) has played well at times this season, but has not been able to keep its poise for an extended period of time. Head coach Dick Blood has been frustrated by his team’s lack of consistency, and knows they can do better.

“[We are looking for] a turnaround. We have played very inconsistently. We have been tentative, both at the plate and in the field, and we need to get rid of our tentative nature. We need to start taking control of our own destiny out there. A tentative nature doesn’t work for us,” Blood said.

Playing in the friendly confines of Niemand-Robison Field, the Red (14-15) will look to pick up its first home wins of the season. The unseasonably cold weather will likely continue into the weekend, which will surely affect the style of play.

“Typically, the real cold weather gives an advantage to a power pitcher. Obviously our last game wasn’t the case, but you’re generally looking at a lower scoring game, where a power pitcher can dominate,” Blood said.

In that case, sophomore Jenn Meunier should be able to thrive for the Red. Through 17 games, the power pitcher has logged the most innings (71.2) for the Red, with a 5-5 record and 3.54 ERA. The Red’s other starter, senior co-captain Whitney Smith, has been pitching well, with a 2.34 ERA. Freshman Hailey Mirrer has also shared some of the pitching duties, coming out of the bullpen.

“Hailey has thrown very well for us, and has really gotten us out of some tough spots,” Blood said.

Offensively, the sophomore duo of Samantha Hare and Ashley Wolf are excelling at getting on base, while freshman Meghan Risica has been a pleasant surprise, and leads the team with four HRs and is second in RBIs (13). Wolf has hit .345 while leading off, and is first on the team in SBs, with four. Hare leads the team in batting average, hitting at a .350 clip.

Dartmouth (7-14) will roll into Ithaca on Saturday for the first doubleheader. The Green has had a tough season, having been outscored, 122-58, by opponents. Offensively, junior Kelly Fry sets the pace, with a .273 batting average, three HRs and 13 RBIs, all good enough for the team lead in each statistical category. With a struggling pitching staff that has a team ERA of 5.43, Blood knows the Red can handle Dartmouth.

“We saw Dartmouth down in Florida. They aren’t scoring a lot of runs, an average lineup with not much power. Their pitching is average, they can spin the ball and change speeds well,” Blood said.

Harvard (10-11), the Red’s Sunday opponent, is a consistent Ivy League power, and this year should be no different. The Crimson boasts a potent lineup and an effective pitching staff. Junior Susie Winkeller and senior Rachel Murray have combined for 29 RBIs and give Harvard a formidable duo in the middle lineup. Sophomore Shelly Madick leads the way for the pitchers, and with a 3.01 team ERA, the Harvard hurlers can bring it.

“Harvard is more of a power pitching team. They’ve got some California kids that can throw it. They have a solid roster, and they will challenge for the title. So they can be a big force in our way,” Blood said.

Ultimately, however, the four games will be determined by the little things. Blood thinks the Red will have to play good defense and be assertive at the plate in order to start off the Ivy season on the right foot.

“We need to get aggressive, on the mound, at the plate and defensively,” Blood said.

Archived article by Jeremy Drucker
Sun Staff Writer