April 20, 2007

Red Begins Homestand Against Columbia

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After weeks of rain, snow and cold, the softball team should finally be able to play in enjoyable weather this weekend. However, even with temperature expected to reach the low-60s, the team won’t get too comfortable because Columbia will be arriving in Ithaca with plans to prolong the Red’s current three-game losing streak.
Cornell has dropped its previous three games — all against Penn — and will look to go back to its winning ways during four games against the league-rival Lions this weekend. The teams are expected to play afternoon doubleheaders at Niemand-Robinson Field on Saturday and Sunday this weekend; however, the dates are contingent on the conditions of the field.
“The entire infield has been shoveled. We’re hoping the outfield will be dry,” said head coach Dick Blood. “If the snow doesn’t melt, the games will be moved to Sunday and Monday.”
[img_assist|nid=23047|title=Wind up and fire|desc=Sophomore Haley Mirrer leads the Red with a 1.77 ERA in 19 appearances, and is second on the team with 88 strikeouts. Mirrer also leads the team in walks (44).|link=node|align=left|width=89|height=100]Sophomore Keli Leong leads the Lions’ offense. She has started every game this season and is batting .398. She has scored a team-high 23 of the Lions’ 110 runs scored on the season. Freshman Aimee Kemp has been Columbia’s best pitcher, earning 13 wins already this season. According to coach Blood, solid pitching will be the key to defeating Columbia this weekend.
“They have a fine pitching staff and they’re going to challenge our bats. Hopefully, our bats will be rejuvenated a little bit [after struggling Wednesday],” Blood said. “If our pitchers throw well, we’ll be able to compete. We didn’t challenge [Penn’s] defense very much [Wednesday]. I’m hoping that we use a little better plate discipline.”
“I think we need to relax and just play the game like we know we can,” said junior Jenn Meunier. “Part of the problem [Wednesday] was that everyone was a little bit stressed.”
Last season, Cornell prevailed in both of its games against Columbia. The Red won the teams’ first meeting, 3-1, behind a three-run sixth inning. Junior Jenn Meunier pitched a complete game and struck out nine for the Red.
“[I need to] make sure I hit my spots and focus on every pitch,” Meunier said.
In the second game, two freshmen led the way for the Red in a well-pitched game. Cornell struck early, when sophomore Meghan Risica belting a two-run home run in the first inning. That shot proved to be Cornell’s only offense in the game. Fortunately for the Red, sophomore Haley Mirrer was lights out, pitching a complete game and allowing only one unearned run, as Cornell prevailed, 2-1.
The Red is currently tied with Princeton for second place in the Ivy League’s South division. Columbia is currently last, despite a respectable conference record of 7-9. Penn is in first place with an Ivy record of 12-4.
Cornell will rap up its Ivy League season next weekend against Princeton. Blood knows the team has work to do, but still believes the team has a chance to win its division.
“Any mathematician can tell we’re in a little bit of a jam right now,” he said. “We’re probably going to have to go 6-2 or 7-1 to pull this thing off.”