April 23, 2008

Softball Takes on Cross-Town Rivals in Matchup

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After extending its winning streak to 18 with sweeps of Syracuse and Columbia last week, the softball team will play another Empire State rival today when it travels to Ithaca College. The Red will need to keep its momentum rolling into the weekend’s four-game home-and-home series with Princeton, which is tied with Cornell atop the Ivy League.
After winning its 37th straight conference game, Division III’s No. 11 Ithaca (24-6, 12-0 Empire 8) has already wrapped up its conference regular season title and will host the Empire 8 playoffs. Cornell (35-7, 15-1), on the other hand, sits in a tie for first place and is still fighting for its conference crown.
“We’ve had our hands full with them every year we’ve played them,” said head coach Dick Blood. “They’re a national contender in Division III. In the past few years they’ve won the national championship, and they play against a lot of Division I schools. They’re very well coached and they do a great job of recruiting, so we’ll have our hands full.”
In last year’s doubleheader between the Bombers and the Red, Cornell swept by winning two close games by scores of 4-3 and 1-0. Senior infielder Samantha Hare led the Red in Game 1, going 2-3 with two RBIs and two runs. Senior Jenn Meunier gave up only one earned run to the Bombers while striking out five in a complete game.
“We have a black book on them… we really don’t have enough time to go watch them play, so we haven’t seen them play other than the games we’ve played against them in past years,” Blood said. “We’ve got our plate full in the spring just getting our own games in, but we’re studying our black book as well as we can against their hitters and their pitchers. Players and teams change a lot from year to year, so we just have to evaluate the game and change what we’re doing during the game itself.”
In this year’s matchup, Cornell is expecting to face senior Carly Myers and senior captain Nicole Cade in the pitcher’s circle. Myers leads the Bombers with a 1.20 ERA and 14-2 record, while Cade has totaled nine wins on the strength of a 2.13 ERA. Myers has struck out 75 batters and surrendered only two homers in 93 innings of work.[img_assist|nid=30136|title=Into the windup|desc=Freshman pitcher Ali Tomlinson (20) will look to add to her already-impressive season against Ithaca College.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Red faced both pitchers last season. Against Cade in Game 1, Cornell scored four runs in three innings. Myers had much more control over Cornell’s bats, holding the Red to just one run while striking out six in six innings.
The Bombers have some big bats in the lineup, boasting of three over-.400 hitters to match Cornell’s trio. Erica Cutspec (.477), Chelsey Feldman (.470) and Kerry Barger (.420) actually beat out their Division I counterparts — sophomore Ashley Garvey (.425), senior Jenna Campagnolo (.412) and sophomore Alyson Intihar (.405).
Ithaca has relied on small-ball to score its 5.5 runs per game. On the season, the Bombers have totaled only 10 home runs, matching their 10 triples. Red sophomore Elise Menaker alone bests Ithaca with her 12 homers. As a team, Cornell has averaged 6.3 runs per game with 42 homers and 11 triples on the season.
After more impressive performances over the weekend, Meunier and freshman Ali Tomlinson will lead Cornell from the circle. After both going 2-0 against Columbia, Meunier moved to 18-1 while Tomlinson now stands at 13-4. Freshman Elizabeth Dalrymple also pitched two scoreless innings against Columbia, adding to a staff with a collective 2.19 ERA. Against mostly Division III opponents, the Bombers’ staff has accumulated a 1.74 ERA.
“[Playing midweek games is] critical,” Blood said. “There’s just no way our hitters could stay sharp enough to face our weekend opponent’s pitching staff. If we didn’t play midweek games, whether they’re conference or non-conference, it’d be impossible in the game of softball to stay sharp without playing as many games as we do.”