May 2, 2007

Softball Sweeps Ithaca, Battles Binghamton

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The softball team has come full circle. Having swept local rival Ithaca College yesterday, the Red (34-13) will now face in-state rival Binghamton for the first time since its 3-2 win at beginning of the season in Norfolk, VA.
“[Playing at home] may not have any extra effect but it’ll be awfully nice for our ladies,” said head coach Dick Blood. “We’ve traveled a lot this year. The inclement weather forced us away for a four-game series against Harvard and Dartmouth and it then forced us away on a Wednesday to play UPenn as well, so we were actually on the road two extra weekends which is a lot of time for our players. So it was nice for [the final home games] to happen.”
The games against the Bearcats, which begin at 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m respectively today, will close the Red’s record-breaking 2007 season.
“We’ll be enjoying the last few competitions together,” said senior co-captain Lauren Battaglia. “We have had a great season. I think everyone on the team would say that.”
Cornell snapped the 18 game winning streak of Division-III’s third-ranked program, Ithaca, yesterday on the shoulders of the Red’s talented starting pitchers. In the first game of the doubleheader, junior Jenn Meunier set the tone from the mound, striking out the first batter of the game and did not allow an earned run until the fifth. The Red then came out swinging, grabbing an early lead as junior co-captain Samantha Hare homered to center field in the first inning.
Though Ithaca came back with a run at the top of the third, scoring on an error by Hare, the shortstop responded her next time up to bat. She drove in her fellow co-captain Battaglia with a double to center field. The Red ended the third inning with three runs and a 4-1 lead.
Ithaca’s Jessie Derbyshire took the mound for Nicole Cade in the bottom of the fourth and prompted a turnaround for the Bombers. Marro opened up the fifth with a single and scored on an error by junior right fielder Ashley Wolf. One more run brought the Bombers within one and Derbyshire once again denied the Red in the bottom of the inning.
In the seventh, however, the top of the order fell short for Ithaca as Erica Custpec struck out, Amanda Kowalsick lined out to Meunier and Hannah Shalett grounded out to short for a final score of 4-3. Meunier pitched a complete game with five strikeouts in seven innings.
Sophomore Haley Mirrer then mirrored Meunier’s commanding performance as she struck out two of three batters in each of the first three innings. With the game scoreless and hitless going into the bottom of the fourth, Ithaca pitcher Carly Myers allowed four hits and the Red got the first and only run of the game when senior Sarah Ruben drove in freshman Elise Menaker with a single to left field.
The pitching duel between Mirrer and Myers ended after three more scoreless innings resulted in a narrow win for the Red, 1-0. Mirrer ended the game with ten strikeouts.
Cornell scraped out a similar 3-2 victory over Binghamton (6-28) on March 10 in Norfolk, Va.
“We had a single game down at the Virginia Beach Classic,” Blood said. “They played us really tough. We only won it in seven or eight innings. They played outstanding defense, and their pitcher — who’s a lefty — stayed away from us with a lot of junk. We weren’t as patient as we needed to be. We weren’t able to capitalize in several situations at Virginia Beach [earlier this season]. But regardless of whether we face her or somebody else, having seen 45 games under our belts now, we’ll get a better offensive approach.”