April 27, 2007

Softball Aims for Title, Sweep

Print More

Beginning today, the softball team will take on Princeton with an opportunity to dethrone the two-time defending Ivy League champions. The Tigers finished 12-2 in conference play in both 2005 and 2006. Princeton would need to sweep the Red to stay alive in its pursuit of a third straight conference championship.
The Red (30-11, 11-5 Ivy) will try to prevent that scenario. Cornell will face Princeton (20-27, 10-6) for four games this weekend, playing two today at Niemand-Robison Field and two games Sunday at Princeton.
If Cornell sweeps the four games, it would play either Harvard or Dartmouth in a best-of-three Ivy League championship series. If the Red wins three of the four games, it would travel to Penn for a one-game playoff that would determine the winner of the Ivy League’s South division. The playoff game would be held at Penn because the Quakers hold a 3-1 advantage over the Red in head-to-head play.
“We’re capable [of winning at least three games],” said head coach Dick Blood. “They have outstanding pitching and solid hitting. It should be quite a dogfight. They’ve been our biggest rival the last few years.”
The Red will send junior pitcher Jenn Meunier to the mound in Game 1, while sophomore Haley Mirrer is expected to start today’s second game.
“Our pitchers are going to have to pitch very well to match [Princeton’s] pitching and we are going to need to overmatch their offense,” Blood said. “We need timely hitting. We need production at the top of the order.”
Last year, the teams split their two games against one another. In Game 1, Princeton pitcher Erin Snyder shut down Cornell. The Red did not get on the board until the final inning, and fell 6-1. Cornell got revenge in the second game, though, when a sixth-inning solo home run from sophomore Jessica Berkey gave the Red a 3-2 win.
This year, without Snyder, Princeton has not been nearly as dominant as it has been in years past. According to Blood, the drop-off in its record has more to do with other Ivy League teams improving, as opposed to the Tigers falling off.
“Penn’s had quite a ballclub this year, and Harvard has come into its own this year,” he said. “I think those two clubs have a lot to do with [Princeton’s record].”
Princeton has lost two games each against Penn and Harvard.
Shortstop Kathryn Welch has been the best position player for Princeton this season. The sophomore leads the team with 32 RBI and is batting .325. No other Tiger has 20 RBI. Classmate Brianna Moreno is batting .353, and is tied for the team lead with 17 runs.
Pitching has been the strength of the Princeton team in recent years; this year, however, no Tiger pitcher has 10 wins. In contrast, Meunier and Mirrer have 16 and 13 wins, respectively.