April 7, 2008

Softball Takes Two Doubleheaders From Ivy League Foes

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A stellar weekend for the softball team has established the Red as a serious contender for the Ivy League crown. The Red displayed its balanced by not merely winning all of its games, but winning them in a variety of ways. The Red swept Brown and then Yale by scores of 6-1, 2-1, 7-3 and 11-7, respectively. Cornell faced an early deficit in three of the four games.
“I think that playing as many as games as we did in Florida and Virginia really prepared us well for what we’ve been facing lately,” said head coach Dick Blood.
On Saturday, the Red (21-7, 5-1 Ivy) was in Providence, R.I., to take on Brown (5-14, 0-8). In the opening game, the Bears got on the board first with a run in the first inning. Senior pitcher Jenn Meunier took control after the shaky start, though, and did not concede anything to the Brown offense the rest of the game.
The staff ace pitched a complete game and only allowed two hits after the first inning.
Cornell’s offense started slowly, but once it got going, it did not relent. The Red was scoreless in the first three innings, but scored at least one run in each of the final four innings en route to a 6-1 victory. Sophomore Ashley Garvey led the way with three hits in the game. Senior Samantha Hare had two hits including a go-ahead home run in the fifth inning.
The second half of the double-header with Brown featured two standout pitching performances and a thrilling Cornell come back. Rookie pitcher Ali Tomlinson was outstanding; however, for most of the game, it appeared that her strong effort was going to be wasted due to a lack of offense.[img_assist|nid=29598|title=Eye of the tiger|desc=Senior Samantha Hare (2) hit a go-ahead round-tripper in the fifth inning of the Red’s Game 1 win over Yale.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Tomlinson allowed a run in the second inning after a pair of two out walks. They came back to haunt her when a single drove in the runner from second. Tomlinson would not walk a batter the rest of the game and scattered four hits while striking out eleven.
Despite Tomlinson’s dominance, the team trailed heading into the seventh inning. Down 1-0, Cornell had one last opportunity to score, this time against Brown reliever Miche Moses.
With one out in the seventh, senior Ashley Wolf hit a fly ball to right-center.
“It was one of those fly balls that could have been caught, but we caught a break,” Blood said. “That was a big, big hit.”
Hare followed with a walk, setting the table for sophomore Alyson Intihar, who at that point was only 1-for-7 on the weekend.
“Intihar just scorched the ball down the third base line,” Blood said.
Intihar’s hit resulted in an RBI double to leftfield that plated Wolf and tied the game. The Red was unable to drive home either Hare or Intihar, but the one run they did score kept the team’s hopes alive.
Tomlinson took the game to extra innings shutting down the Bears in the bottom half of the frame. In the first inning of bonus softball, senior Jenna Campagnolo launched tie-breaking home run. Tomlinson remained in the game and ensured that the 2-1 score would hold up as Cornell completed its sweep of Brown.
“We’ve had a lot of trouble the last six, seven, or eight years sweeping at Brown,” Blood said. “Our kids were very excited. It was encouraging.”
Yesterday, Yale (12-16, 2-6) hosted Cornell, but was no more successful than Brown at stopping the Red. In the first game, the Red scored early and often to build a 7-1 lead. A trio of sophomore infielders provided most of the offense. Second baseman Devon March, third baseman Elise Menaker and Intihar, who plays shortstop, combined to bat .625 with six RBI, five runs and two home runs in the opener against Yale.
Meunier was back on the mound for the Red and once again silenced the opposing team’s bats. She pitched a complete game, allowed one run and improved to 12-1 on the season. An error by Intihar allowed the Bulldogs to tack on two seventh-inning runs to create the final score.
In the final game of the weekend, Cornell’s offense exploded for 11 runs in the 11-7 win. The Red capitalized on poor Bulldog defense as two errors led to seven unearned runs.
Most of the contest was a back-and-forth affair, though.
A 2-0 Yale lead became a 2-2 tie. A 5-2 Cornell lead disappeared and reemerged as a 5-5 tie.
Cornell broke the seesaw affair open for good, though, with a six-run fifth inning. With the bases loaded, sophomore Dana Robbins hit the ball right back to the pitcher, who couldn’t handle the shot, allowing senior Liz Larkin to score and the rest of the baserunners to safely advance. Two batters later, Hare cleared the bases when she drilled a three-run double to the left center gap. Menaker drove in two more with a double to complete the six-run onslaught.
Tomlinson pitched well enough to earn the victory, despite not having her best stuff. The rookie pitched a complete game, struck out nine, and allowed seven runs.
The Red is now 5-1 against conference foes and is in a great position to challenge for the Ivy League crown.
“We’re not looking that far ahead yet, but it was definitely a step in theright direction,” Blood said. “Our bats came alive [yesterday] after they were a little quiet [Saturday] and our pitching was solid.”