April 4, 2008

Red Splits Ivy Opener, Looks Ahead to Brown

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Five days after the scheduled contest between Cornell and Harvard, the weather finally cooperated enough yesterday to allow the Red to face off with the Crimson at Niemand-Robinson Softball Field. After twice postponing games with Dartmouth, canceling a doubleheader against Siena and postponing the two games with Harvard in the past week, the Red was finally able to squeeze in some competition. In the two games against the Crimson, Cornell split its Ivy opener, winning Game 1, 8-5, and falling, 4-1, in Game 2.
After staying dormant in the first inning, the Red (17-7, 1-1 Ivy) offense got going in the second when sophomore catcher Vanessa Leonhard drove in a run in the first. In the bottom of the third, Cornell scored f ive more, including two courtesy of a home run from sophomore Elise Menaker.
Cornell added two more runs, but Harvard (8-15, 1-3) was able to score five in the fourth inning and another two in the fifth. Senior pitcher Jenn Meunier went all seven innings, holding the Crimson to four earned runs on the strength of five shutout innings.
“Harvard’s a great hitting team, so it’s not surprising that they’ll score runs,” said sophomore Devon March. “Once a team like that gets momentum, it’s hard to stop them.”
Meunier figured out a way, holding the Crimson scoreless in the seventh to recover from allowing five runs the previous two innings. With the win, Meunier advanced to 10-1 on the year.
The Red’s bats slowed down in the second game. Cornell’s only run came of of Menaker’s second home run of the day. Freshman pitcher Ali Tomlinson matched Meunier’s game one performance by giving up four earned in seven innings, but the Red did not offer the same amount of run support as the rookie fell to (5-4).[img_assist|nid=29508|title=Rock and roll|desc=With sophomore Elise Menaker (above) on a roll at the plate, Cornell faces off against Brown this weekend, a team that currently resides in the Ivy League cellar.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“The second pitcher from Harvard itched really well and was able to quite our bats,” said sophomore Devon March. “We were able to zone in on the Harvard pitchers in the first game, and that was the difference.”
After splitting with last year’s Ivy League champion, Cornell will be traveling to Providence and New Haven to compete with last year’s third and fourth place finishers in the North division of the Ivy League.
Cornell will open the weekend against Brown (5-10, 0-4), last year’s last-place finisher in the conference. The Bears are riding a four-game losing streak, being outscored 27-8 in two losses at Columbia and two at defending South division champion Penn.
The Bears are led by senior Amy Baxter, who went 3-6 with homer in Brown’s last game, a 11-3 loss to Penn. She is hitting .395 with two homers, tied for the team lead with classmate Linnea Anderson, who also leads the team with a .462 average.
Last year, Cornell split with the Bears, winning the first game 5-1 but coming up short in the second, 4-3. The Red will look to make up for last years game two loss, which ended with the tying run at first and the Red’s cleanup hitter and current home run (4) and RBI (17) leader, Menaker, at the plate. 
Yale, Cornell’s opponent on Sunday, got off to a later start than the Red, beginning their season with the Rebel Spring Games, going 8-4 on the trip to Florida. Since then, they have gone 4-8 to drop down to .500 on the season, losing their previous two games Wednesday at Fairfield.
In last year’s doubleheader, Cornell swept Yale, winning a close 2-1 bout in game one, followed by a decisive 13-3 victory in the second game. Game 1 saw a pitchers duel develop between senior Jenn Meunier and Yale junior and reigning team MVP Rebecca Wojciak. Meunier did not allow an earned run cross the plate while striking out four in seven innings. Wojciak did not fare as well, giving up six hits and two runs.
The winning run came in the sixth when sophomore Alyson Intihar stole home to put the Red up by one. The score did not change, and Meunier finished out the complete game to secure the Red victory.
Cornell’s bats exploded in the second game and the Red scored six in the first inning en route to the 13-3 win. The highlight of the six-run first inning was a grand slam from junior outfielder Meg Risica. After stealing home for the winning run in the earlier game, Intihar went 4-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in game two.
“Obviously we would have liked to have swept, but to come away with the one win is still nice,” March said. “It’s hard to sweep any weekend with four games, but with the two Ivy League games under our belt, we’re confident that we have the capability of winning all of our games this weekend.”