April 11, 2008

Softball in Position to Take First in Conference Play

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After getting through the round of games against the Ivy League North Division at 7-1, the Red will begin play against its South Division foes this weekend. In only the second year with the two-division format, the 2007 runner-up Red will face last year’s divisional champion, Penn, in two doubleheaders this weekend.
Last year Penn (18-2, 5-3 Ivy) surged during the second half of it’s Ivy Schedule, going 9-3 against the southern division, including three-of-four against Cornell. The Quakers will be trying to match that performance, after already matching last year’s 5-3 mark against the North Division.
Cornell finished just one game back of Penn in last year’s divisional standings. The Red will be seeking revenge for last year’s 1-3 record against the Quakers and will bring an eight-game winning streak to Philadelphia.
“I think our pitchers are really sharp right now, and the defense is really sharp,” said sophomore infielder Alyson Intihar. “If the bats can keep it going, we should be able to do really well this weekend.”
Just a year ago, the Red arrived at Warren Field in Philadelphia and looked impressive when it opened the series with a 4-0 victory over the Quakers behind senior Jenn Meunier’s four-hitter.
That turned out to be the only win of the weekend, though. Cornell dropped the back end of the doubleheader and then errors and a lack of timely hitting led to a doubleheader sweep in the second doubleheader.
Over the course of this weekend’s four games, the Red will face Penn’s two starting pitchers, freshman southpaw Jessie Lupardus and junior Emily Denstedt. Denstedt started two games and pitched in relief against the Red last season, giving up three runs and ten hits in 16 innings.[img_assist|nid=29755|title=girls of summer|desc=The softball team faces off against Penn this weekend, looking to improve on its 7-1 Ivy record this year.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The rookie Lupardus joined Penn and already has established herself as the staff ace. Lupardus currently leads the Ivy League in ERA, wins, saves, appearances, innings pitched, shutouts and complete games.
Despite Lupardus’ resume, the Red batters said that they will focus more on themselves rather than the pitching they will face.
“I don’t know if [the pitcher’s statistics] are something we think about,” Intihar said. “I wouldn’t say we ‘scout’ the pitcher — we know what pitches she’s throwing. We will make adjustments during the game and take it one at-bat at a time.”
Cornell will counter Penn’s youth on the mound with experience, handing the ball to Meunier. Meunier is currently tied for the league lead with Lupardus in wins (14), and ranks second behind the rookie in shutouts (3), complete games (12) and ERA (1.33). Meunier has an overwhelming advantage in career victories, however, taking a 67-14 advantage into the weekend.
“Playing four games against one team can make for a long weekend,” Intihar said. “You just have to take it one game at a time, and always go into the first game — the first pitch — and stay focused, and stay focused throughout the entire weekend.”