April 28, 2006

Softball Splits Two With Rival Ithaca

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After taking three out of four crucial games on the road against Ivy League foes Brown and Yale last weekend, the softball team continued to ride its strong pitching staff to a split against a talented and confident Ithaca team at Kostrinsky Field yesterday, taking the first game, 4-2, while losing the second, 4-0.

The Red will take today off before traveling to New York City for a doubleheader against Columbia (21-22, 3-5 Ivy) tomorrow in its final Ivy League games before facing Fairleigh Dickinson (8-38, 5-12 NEC) for a doubleheader in Teaneck, N.J., on Sunday.

“On the whole I think our team did a great job of fighting against a team that is very hot right now,” said head coach Dick Blood. “Although once again we didn’t hit, we had a great effort on defense as well as on the mound.”

Ithaca (31-3, 12-0 Empire 8) came into the match up against Cornell (25-22, 9-3 Ivy) having won a school-record 18 consecutive games and comfortably sitting as the No. 3 natioanlly-ranked team in Division III softball.

Despite the long list of accolades, the Bombers came out flat in Game 1, allowing a normally passive Red offense to light them up for four runs in the first inning. Cornell sophomore Jenna Campagnolo led off the game with a double and was pushed to third on a fielder’s choice by junior Erin Murtha. The next batter – freshman Meghan Risica – then promptly smoked a three-run home run down the left field line to quickly put the Red on top. Risica continues to be one of the few spark plugs in the lineup for Cornell, leading the team in both home runs (six) and RBI (26).

“All of our freshmen have made a huge impact on our ball club this year,” Blood said. “Especially after the loss of [sophomore] Ashley Wolf, Meghan has done a real nice job filling in and supplying some power for us.”

Cornell scraped out another run in the top of the first as senior co-captain Caitlin Warren – who had reached on a walk – was driven in by junior Sarah Ruben’s RBI double.

The four-run cushion was more than sophomore pitcher Jenn Meunier would need, as she closed the book on Ithaca’s winning streak by yet again going the distance to collect her 14th victory on the season. Meunier finished the game by allowing two runs on eight hits while walking one and striking out four Bombers, handing sophomore pitcher Nicole Cade only her second loss on the year.

In Game 2, Ithaca reverted back to its winning ways, dominating the Red to pick up a 4-0 victory.

Cornell’s only legitimate scoring opportunity came in the top of the third with the game still tied at zero. Warren and freshman Jessica Berkey led off the inning with back-to-back singles and advanced on freshman Nicole Cheever’s perfectly placed sacrifice bunt.

As has been the story all year, however, the offense could not come through in the clutch, as Ruben and junior Lauren Battaglia popped out and grounded out respectively to end the threat.

Ithaca’s Carly Myers took care of the rest, pitching seven shut out innings while scattering six hits to improve her record to 15-1 on the season.

Senior co-captain Whitney Smith continued to struggle on the mound, taking the loss for Cornell while throwing five innings and surrendering four runs on five hits and two walks.

Although the team is out of contention for the Ivy League title, it is still working hard to on secure sole possession of second place.

“I still really like our club and despite the fact that we are out of the race, I still think that they are very motivated,” Blood said. “This is a very gritty team that has won games by playing as a team and never quitting. I am still very pleased with the way they have performed this year.”

Archived article by Lance Williams
Sun Staff Writer