April 30, 2007

Softball Splits With Tigers

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With the season on the line, the softball team fell just short of staying in the hunt for the Ivy League championship. The Red (32-13, 13-7 Ivy) needed to win three of four games against Princeton (22-29, 12-8 Ivy) in order to force a playoff against Penn that would have determined the winner of the Ivy League’s South division.
On Friday, Cornell battled Princeton in a doubleheader at Niemand-Robinson field. In the first game of the day, junior pitcher Jenn Meunier was touched-up by the Tiger offense. She allowed nine runs — five of which were earned — over the course of her start, including a three-run home run in the first inning to freshman Jamie Lettire.
Junior Kristen Schaus was on the mound for the Tigers and contained the Red offense. Junior Jessica Berkey and freshman Alyson Intihar each hit solo home runs for the Red; however that proved to be Cornell’s only offense. The squad eventually fell, 9-2, putting the team in the difficult position of needing three consecutive wins to force a playoff wth Penn.
The Red offense got going in the next game. Freshman Elise Menaker hit a three-run home run in the first inning and the offense never looked back. Menaker hit a second home run — this time a two-run bomb — in the third inning. In the fourth inning, Cornell used four hits, a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and a Princeton error to score four more runs.
The Red appeared to be in control, holding a 9-4 lead in the sixth inning. The Tigers stormed back and scored six two-out runs in the inning to take the lead.
With their backs against the wall, the Red rallied. With two outs and the bases loaded, three straight Red batters drew RBI walks. Meunier pitched a perfect seventh inning to finish off a 12-10 victory.
“This team’s demonstrated a lot of fight all year long. We’ve had a handful of games where we’ve fought back late,” head coach Dick Blood said. “I’m really proud of the way the kids have shown the attitude that they’re never going to give up.”
Yesterday, Schaus made her second start of the weekend for Princeton and shut down Cornell’s offense once again. She struck out eleven and limited the Red offense to a home run from junior Jenna Campagnolo. The Tigers pushed across four runs and the 4-1 victory ended Cornell’s chances at claiming an Ivy-League title.
“We talked about pride between games [Sunday], and representing the University,” Blood said. “I’m very proud of the ladies.”
In the final game of the conference schedule, the Red responded to their coach and represented the University nicely, winning 5-2 behind home runs from Intihar and Berkey. For the third consecutive season, the Red has finished one win short of a chance to win the Ivy-League title.
“It’s triply frustrating,” Blood said. “We’re right there, but not quite getting over the hump. We’re not as consistent as we need to be, but we’re not losing from a lack of effort.”
The Red is losing only two seniors, therefore Blood likes its chances to be in the hunt for the conference championship again next season.
“I like our club right now,” he said. “We have good solid pitching, a dynamic offense, and pretty solid defense. I like our future.”