April 23, 2007

Softball Gets Back Into Ivy Hunt With Three Wins

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After faltering against Penn last week, the Red used a homestand against Columbia to get back into the hunt for first place in the Ivy League’s South division. Cornell took three of four games from its cross-state rivals and improved to 11-5 against conference foes (30-11).
Under gorgeous April skies, the Red faced off against the Lions (18-23, 8-11 Ivy) in doubleheaders Saturday and again yesterday. In the first game of the series, junior Jenn Meunier was dominant on the mound. She pitched a complete game shutout en route to her 16th win of the season.
The Red offense pushed across five runs, including two runs in the first inning off RBI from Cornell freshmen Alyson Intihar and Elise Menaker. Senior co-captain Lauren Battaglia accounted for the rest of the Red offense with a two-run double in the fourth inning and a solo home run in the sixth, accounting for the final tally of 5-0.
Haley Mirrer came out in the second game hoping to emulate Meunier’s stellar performance. The sophomore came close, pitching a complete game and allowing only two unearned runs.
Cornell’s offense started the game slowly, going scoreless through five innings; however, a late surge led to a 4-2 win for the Red. Both Columbia runs were scored in the fifth inning in part due to an error from junior Samantha Hare. Later, the shortstop redeemed herself with the bat. With two runners on base and a two-strike count, head coach Dick Blood called for Hare to bunt, despite the risk of striking out on a fouled two-strike bunt.
“I thought it was a good time to try to move up the runners,” Blood said. “Sammy is our best bunter. She had a nice bunt right up the middle and put it in play.”
Columbia threw to third on the play, attempting to gun down pinch runner Adrienne Matta, a junior.
“[Matta] really barreled into third,” Blood said.
Matta’s hard slide led to a Lion error and she eventually scored on the play. Intihar and junior Jenna Campagnolo each added RBI singles to give the Red the lead. Junior Ashley Wolf contributed an RBI double in the sixth inning to complete the scoring.
Saturday’s success did not carry over to yesterday’s first game, which Columbia won, 4-2. Cornell had 10 hits, but struggled to advance its base-runners.
Columbia elected to start freshman Aimee Kemp on the mound in all four games. That decision eventually backfired in the fourth game, when she was roughed up for 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Red’s first four batters — freshman Devon March, Hare, Intihar and Menaker — combined for nine hits, two walks, six runs and six RBI in the game. In total, the Red scored eight runs in the game.
Mirrer started the game on the mound for the Red and allowed just two runs. Meunier came in during the fifth inning and shut the door to record her third save of the season.
“They both pitched very well all weekend,” Blood said. “Of course, it would have been wonderful to win four, but I’m very pleased with the kids’ performance,” Blood said. “I thought our kids fought really hard and played good, solid softball.”
Penn finished its conference schedule over the weekend by winning two of four against Princeton.
Cornell will face Princeton next weekend and now needs to win three of four to tie for the division championship. If the Red is able to sweep the Tigers, it will win the division outright.
“We’re going to give it our best shot,” Blood said.