April 19, 2007

Softball Falls to Penn

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The Red escaped snow-covered Ithaca and traveled to Penn for a doubleheader against the Quakers. They might have left their bats and gloves behind.
Cornell had been in Philadelphia last weekend to face Penn for four games in two days; however inclement weather forced a postponement of the second doubleheader. Last Saturday, in the first scheduled doubleheader, the Red won its first game 4-0 and fell 6-5 in the second. When the second two games were made-up yesterday afternoon, the Quakers picked up right where they left off, defeating the Red 7-1 and 5-4 respectively.
In yesterday’s first game, the Red’s offense was silenced by Penn sophomore Emily Denstedt. Cornell barely even threatened during the first four innings. In the fifth, the Red loaded the bases with two outs, but junior Samantha Hare grounded out to end the inning. Classmate Jessica Berkey hit a solo home run in the seventh that accounted for the Red’s only offense in the game.
Meanwhile, the Red struggled in the field, as two errors led to five unearned runs. Junior Jenn Meunier took the loss after allowing seven runs, only two of which were earned. Freshman Dana Robbins pitched one and a third inning of scoreless relief.
Corrnell performed better in the second game, but was still unable to earn a victory. Freshman Alyson Intihar and sophomores Meghan Risica and Nicole Cheever each belted solo home runs, however poor fielding again doomed the Red. A fourth inning error by freshman Elise Menaker extended the inning, and with two outs Penn senior Kaelin Ainley belted a three-run home run. The game was tied at four runs a piece heading into the sixth, but Penn junior Annie Kinsey hit an RBI double that proved to be the difference in the game.
After roaring to an 8-1 start in Ivy play, the Red have now dropped to 8-4 after three straight losses to Penn. When asked if he is at all concerned, head coach Dick Blood responded “Absolutely.”
“We knew we were vulnerable. We only hit .229 as a team,” he said. “Everybody struggled. We haven’t been able to stay back and drive the ball.”
The four Red home runs did prove to be a bright spot, however, the team never managed to string enough hits to put together any big innings.
“We were glad that the kids hit the ball out the yard, but they were all solo shots. We put very little pressure on their pitchers and their defense,” Blood said. “We gave in a little too easily … we swung at bad pitches.”
He also said that in order for the team to get back to its winning ways, the defense must improve.
“We had some critical errors that really ended up costing us dearly,” he said. “We can’t collapse when we make an error. We haven’t been able to manage any damage.”
The Red defense had been much better this year than last, but that was not the case yesterday.
“I don’t look at it as an aberration; errors are always a cause for concern. We just didn’t make the plays we needed to make,” Blood said.
Jenn Meunier started both games for Cornell, as the team was without Haley Mirrer, who has started 16 games this season.
“She [Meunier] made one mistake on a pitch,” Blood said, referring to Ainley’s home run. “Other than that one pitch she responded very nicely [to the challenge of starting two games in one day].”