As the softball team waits from a hotel in New Haven, Conn., for its chance to catch Princeton in the Ivy League standings tomorrow in a double header against Yale, the Red must feel like it let at golden opportunity slip away. Cornell (22-21, 7-3 Ivy) split its games on Saturday against league rival Brown (16-24, 4-6 Ivy), taking the first contest, 5-3, while dropping a heartbreaker, 3-1, the following game.
“Overall I think we played really good softball,” said head coach Dick Blood. “Our pitching was dominant in both games, but our defense let us down once again. All of our errors cost us dearly.”
In Game 1, the Bears jumped out to an early lead, as a pair of leadoff walks in the second came around to score thanks to an error by sophomore center-fielder Jenna Campagnolo. A leadoff walk once again haunted Cornell in the following inning, as it eventually came around to score to give Brown a 3-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth, however, the Red answered with two runs of its own. Sophomore Samantha Hare led off the inning with a walk, advanced to second when junior Erin Murtha was hit by a pitch and scored on freshman Meghan Risica’s RBI single to left. Murtha later crossed home plate on freshman Nicole Cheever’s groundout to the shortstop.
Cornell tied the game in the next frame, as a costly two-base error by Brown pitcher Michelle Moses allowed sophomore pinch-runner Jaimee Lockwood to score from second.
The bats then came alive when it mattered most for the Red, as freshman Jessica Berkey, Campagnolo and Hare each smoked doubles in the top of the seventh inning to pull ahead for good.
“Although we scored five runs, we really did not swing the bats all that well aside from the seventh inning – three of those runs were a result of walks or hit batsmen,” Blood said.
The story of the game was the effort by sophomore pitcher Jenn Meunier, who has recently established herself as the go to pitcher on the staff.
Meunier threw her 12th complete game of the year, allowing only two earned runs on five hits and striking out four.
“Jenn has started to get more comfortable on the mound and the results speak for themselves,” Blood said. “She is now establishing dominance on the inside part of the plate and throwing with a little more velocity than she was earlier in the year, which has made her much more effective.”
Although it was unbeknownst to the team, the victory landed them within one game of first place, as Princeton lost its first game in a double header against Harvard, 1-0.
But in the second contest of the afternoon, Cornell continued to struggle at the plate and on defense. The team stayed in the game, however, due to the effort from freshman Haley Mirrer – who demonstrated just how dominating she can be by throwing five perfect innings to start the contest while striking out nine hitters.
Neither team scored until the top of the sixth inning until Cornell broke the ice as Hare – who reached on a single – was driven in by Murtha’s RBI double.
Brown’s dormant bats then came to life in the bottom of the inning, putting three runs on the board, two as a result of a double from senior Mary Seid.
Down by two going into the top of the seventh inning, Cornell gave itself a chance by loading the bases with two walks and a hit by pitch, but Risica ended the game with a line out to right.
Meunier, whose performance was described by Blood as “brilliant,” pitched six innings, allowing three runs – only one earned – all while walking none and striking out nine batters.
The loss drops the Red back into second place, trailing Princeton by two games with four Ancient Eight contests left on the schedule.
“I think we definitely have a chance to catch Princeton if we take care of our business,” Blood said. “I’m excited that we’re still in it, it should be fun down the stretch.”
Archived article by Lance Williams
Sun Staff Writer