Before the MLB season got underway, the softball team opened its Ivy League schedule with games against Yale and Brown. The Red defeated the Bulldogs in both games of a Saturday doubleheader before splitting games against Brown yesterday.
After starting the season at 18-3, the Red had stumbled in its previous three games and was looking to get back on track in its first league same of the season. It turned out to be a thriller.
[img_assist|nid=22427|title=Gyroball?|desc=Sophomore Hayley Mirrer releases a pitch in a doubleheader that the Red split with Canisius April 5, 2006. Cornell took three of its four games this past weekend.|link=node|align=left|width=66|height=100]
Junior Jenn Meunier was on the mound and dominated the Bulldogs, pitching the entire game and allowing only an unearned run, which came in the first inning. The Red offense was unable to muster any support for much of the game, going scoreless in the first four innings.
To lead off the fifth inning, sophomore Meg Risica hit a triple to right field and later scored on a sacrifice fly from senior co-captain Lauren Battaglia.
In the sixth inning, with the game tied at one, freshman Alyson Intihar led off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from classmate Elise Menaker. Jenna Campagnolo then singled to put runners on the corners. Sophomore Jess Berkey was unable to put the ball in play and recorded the second out of the inning, setting the table for head coach Dick Blood’s aggressive decision.
Blood called for Campagnolo to steal second trying to force Yale’s catcher to try and throw out Campagnolo, allowing Intihar to steal home. The call was bold and could have gone wrong a number of different ways. If Yale were to throw out Campagnolo at second or cutoff the throw and catch Intihar between bases, the inning would have been over.
“The defense has a number of electives,” Blood said. “We don’t know exactly know what they’re going to do, but if they throw through past the pitcher we’re going to try and steal home.”
The call worked to perfection and Intihar scored the go-ahead run. The Red held on for a 2-1 victory.
The second game of the day was not nearly as close as the Red used three home runs to power past Yale by a 13-3 margin. Risica launched a grand slam in the first inning which gave the Red an early 6-0 lead. Freshman Devon March later hit a three-run homer, while Intihar had four hits including a solo home run. Sophomore Haley Mirrer pitched a complete game, striking out four.
“It’s a big ballpark. I won’t say I was surprised, but I was pleased,” Blood said. “Risica kind of opened up the game with the grand slam.”
In the Red’s first game on Sunday, the team again relied on its power to defeat Brown, 5-1. Campagnolo and Intihar each belted two-run home runs. Meunier pitched her second complete game of the weekend for the Red.
The final game of the weekend coincided with the Red’s first Ivy-League loss of the season as Brown prevailed 4-3. The Red was held scoreless until a seventh inning rally that came up just short. Intihar was on base as the tying run before Menaker grounded out.
“Our kids came through with a lot of clutch hits. The last ball [hit by Menaker] was spiked up the middle and the pitcher made a good play,” Blood said. “It’s a good sign that we’ve battled back several times this year.”