April 9, 2007

Softball ignores weather, earns 7-1 conference mark

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The softball team continued its stellar season with a 4-0 record over the weekend. The Red (26-7) swept doubleheaders against conference foes Dartmouth and Harvard to improve to an Ivy League-leading 7-1 record in conference play.
On Saturday, the Red squared off against the Green. The games were supposed to be played in Ithaca but, due to inclement weather, were held on a neutral field at Brown. The lack of a home field advantage did nothing to slow down the Red.
In the first game, the Red used nine hits — including a home run from senior co-captain Lauren Battaglia — to defeat Dartmouth 7-2. Junior Jenn Meunier pitched a complete game for the Red.
The Red overpowered Dartmouth in the second game. In the fifth inning, the Red offense exploded, scoring six runs. The game was capped off by Battaglia’s second home run of the day that gave the Red a 9-0 lead and brought the eight-run mercy rule into effect.
“That was a career day for [Battaglia],” said head coach Dick Blood. “That was special. We were happy for the senior. She hit the ball hard and was very aggressive at the plate all weekend long.”
Sophomore Haley Mirrer pitched five shutout innings in the game, earning the victory in a 9-0 win.
“We had some very timely hitting. A lot of two-out hits,” Blood said. “Our pitching was outstanding.”
The games were not nearly as one-sided against Harvard. In the first game yesterday, the Red fell behind by scores of 5-0 and 8-3. Freshman Elise Menaker provided the Red’s early offense with a three-run home run in the third inning.
Meunier, who had been excellent all season long, struggled against the Crimson. She allowed all eight Harvard runs, before she was replaced by freshman Dana Robbins. Robbins — who had struggled during her first two appearances on the mound — stepped up to the challenge and shut down Harvard’s offense over 2 2/3 innings.
“Oh boy was that exciting,” Blood said. “I was happy for her and her family. Her first outing was a rough one; her second was better. Today, she was able to get her breaking ball and her change-up over for strikes. She was sharp when we needed her to be.”
“My thoughts were to go in and get outs,” Robbins said. “I was very pleased [with my performance]. I was just out there just trying to explode off the mound, throw hard and get my pitches into the strike zone.”
With Robbins’ performance providing confidence, the Red offense got going in the sixth inning.
“One of the big keys was they [Harvard’s outfield] misplayed a fly ball by Battaglia,” Blood said. “Then we got five hits in [the next] six batters. Just chipping away.”
The Red turned a four-run deficit into a 9-8 lead in mere minutes. Mirrer came in to get the save.
In the final game of the weekend, the Red jumped out to a six-run lead and held on for a 6-4 victory. Mirrer started for the Red and was great for the first five innings, before struggling in the sixth. Meunier came in and earned her second save of the season in relief.
“It’s thrilling,” Robbins said of the team’s hot start. “We’re out for an Ivy League championship and I think we have a good start.”