March 28, 2007

Ruben’s Uncharacteristic Hot Start Keys Red’s Offense

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After three seasons in which she got off to slow starts at the plate, senior catcher Sarah Ruben has been swinging a scorching hot bat to begin her senior campaign.

During her first three seasons at Cornell, Ruben never had a batting average above .255. Coming out of the blocks at a snail’s pace had been the norm for Ruben, who hit .241 as a sophomore despite finishing the season with a .555 average over her last seven games. Her play followed a similar pattern last season, when she managed just a .255 average despite compiling a hit per game over the team’s final nine games.

This season has included no such delay in production. Ruben has more than doubled last season’s average, hitting a team-best .513 in the Red’s (18-6) first 24 games. Ruben is also leading the team in on-base percentage and slugging percentage.[img_assist|nid=22294|title=Around the horn|desc=Senior Sarah Ruben whips the ball around the infield after a strike out against Brown last season.|link=node|align=left|width=100|height=50]

Ruben has been responsible for two of the most important hits of the season. On March 10 against Binghamton, Ruben stepped to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning with a tie game and the bases loaded. She met the challenge, hitting a walk-off single that extended the Red’s winning streak to eight games.

In a March 18 win over Elon, Ruben came to the plate as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth with two outs and the go-ahead run on second. She ripped an RBI single that plated junior Jenna Campagnolo. The Red held on for a run a one-run victory.

“We’ve needed a catcher who can hit the ball the last three or four years,” head coach Dick Blood said. “We haven’t had that in quite some time. It’s a blessing to have.”

Ruben has two homeruns and 14 RBI, good for third and fourth most on the team, respectively. Those power numbers are even more impressive when one considers that she is ninth on the team in at bats.

“An Achilles’ heel for her had been that she wasn’t able to knock in runs, but knock on wood, she has [fixed that],” Blood said.

Ruben’s play has also been unblemished behind the plate. She has yet to commit an error in 77 chances. Her experience has also been critical for the Red, as she and co-captain Lauren Battaglia are the only seniors on the roster.

“[Ruben] and Lauren Battaglia had both been marginal players for most of their careers. This year, they have been very solid for us,” Blood said.

Both players have played large roles in the team’s success so far this season. Blood credits Ruben’s progress to her newfound ability to hit balls on the outside corner.

“She’s always been a very solid defender, but she’s had trouble with pitches down and away for quite some time,” he said. “This season, she’s been able to address that. She’s had a lot of success.”