March 24, 2009

Softball Finds Success In Florida Invitationals

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Although the crushing defeats by the men’s basketball and hockey teams did not leave Cornell sports fans with much reason to celebrate last weekend, the softball team enjoyed a successful week in Florida, albeit not of the Spring Break variety. Playing 17 games in eight days as part of the Stetson Invitational and Rebel Spring Games (with a Monday afternoon doubleheader thrown in), the Red improved to 19-5 on the season and has now won its last eight contests.[img_assist|nid=36178|title=Swing away|desc=Junior Elise Menaker went 3-for-3 in the Red’s 10-1 victory over the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The game was the last in a series of 17 that spanned all of Spring Break.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The team kicked off its marathon week in DeLand, Fla., where it went 1-2 in the opening day of the Stetson Invitational, picking up a 4-0 win over Hartford University (4-9). Cornell was then handed its first and second losses of the season by the University of Iowa (26-5) and Stetson University (19-13), respectively.
Senior Meg Risica led the Red’s offensive effort for the day, going 5-for-7 while notching two RBI. She was accompanied by junior Ashley Garvey, who continued her offensive tear and went 4-for-8 with three RBI, including a two-run homer against Hartford.
Sophomore Elizabeth Dalrymple struck out eight Hartford batters en route to her fourth win of the season. Dalrymple, who had not allowed a single earned run in four starts, was backed by Garvey’s blast to right center field, as well as an Alyson Intihar sacrifce fly.
Unfortunately for the Red, the rest of the day did not unfold exactly as planned. The team suffered an 11-3 drubbing at the hands of the Iowa Hawkeyes, who came out swinging to tally five runs in the first inning alone. Sophomore Ali Tomlinson took the loss for Cornell, surrendering eight runs in four innings. She was relieved by freshman Jenna Stroller, who faced six batters in the fifth inning and gave up three runs to end the game. A classic pitchers’ duel ensued in the Red’s matchup against Stetson, as both teams were scoreless heading into the bottom of the sixth; freshman Lauren Marx was one out away from preserving the shutout, when she gave up a single, followed by a walk and another single that put two runs on the board for the Hatters.
Sunday proved a doubly disappointing day for the Red, as the team once again fell to Iowa and Stetson, by scores of 5-3 and 10-1, respectively.
“We were challenged when we played Stetson and Iowa,” said head coach Dick Blood. “We were challenged by them, and didn’t fair as well against some really stiff competition.”
Intihar, junior Devon March and Garvey picked up Cornell’s three hits against the Hawkeyes, and Dalrymple pitched her second game in as many days, going 3.1 innings and allowing seven hits and four earned runs. Marx pitched two innings, surrendering one run, and Tomlinson faced two batters, striking out one. The Red’s offensive effort featured well-executed small ball; in the top of the first inning, Intihar led off with a single to left field. March was then hit by a pitch, and junior Elise Menaker advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Garvey drove in Cornell’s first run with a single up the middle, and March scored on a passed ball. Garvey stole home to make the score 3-0, but Iowa would effectively silence the team’s bats for the remainder of the game. Against the Hatters, March drove in the Red’s lone run on a groundout to third, bringing home sophomore Marissa Amiraian. Stetson got off to a quick start, scoring three runs in the first inning, followed by one in the third and fourth. The Hatters would tack on three more in the sixth to outscore the Red by nine and end the game.
“I thought our pitchers did a pretty good job, but we were unable to score against really good pitching, which clearly challenged our lineup,” Blood said.
Senior Jessy Berkey echoed her coach’s sentiments, “We were outhit in some of those games, and we definitely didn’t play the type of caliber softball that we are capable of playing. … We let a few small things kind of turn into larger innings for them, as we should have shut them down earlier.”
“They capitalized on a few of our mistakes and really ran with it, and unfortunately it resulted in a few losses, but I think we definitely learned from that and came out even stronger the rest of the week, as exhibited by the fact that we continued to win,” she added.
On Monday afternoon the team headed northeast to Daytona Beach and resumed its winning ways, sweeping a doubleheader against Bethune-Cookman College (7-26). Cornell won the first game, 7-2, and continued its dominant performance in the second game, posting a 5-3 victory. Garvey hit .500 for the day with two doubles and three RBI, and Dalrymple and Tomlinson both added to their win columns.
The team’s next destination was Kissimmee, where Cornell took on 10 teams in five days as part of the Rebel Spring Games. ­­
“It’s an exhausting week playing 17 games, but as long as you keep your head in and stay focused and take each inning of every single game one step at a time, it makes it that much easier to get through it,” said Berkey.
The Red opened with an 11-0 pounding of the University of Rhode Island (6-12), a matchup in which Marx secured the win, pitching four innings and striking out three. She was relieved by classmate Nikki Dulaney in the fifth, who maintained the shutout. Intihar went 2-for-4 with a double, Berkey batted 1.000 and March went 2-for-3. In the second game of the day, Cornell was narrowly edged out by Iona College (6-10), 3-1. The Gaels took a 3-0 lead after scoring two runs in the third and one in the fourth. Tomlinson struck out two batters in the loss, and Garvey drove in the Red’s lone run of the game with a homer to center field.
The Red picked up a Wednesday afternoon sweep with a 2-1 win over Manhattan College (4-14) and a come-from-behind, 13-5, victory against Colgate (10-7). Cornell’s hits numbered in the double-digits in its first matchup with Manhattan. Berkey went 2-for-3 and hit a solo shot in the top of the sixth to score the go-ahead run. Tomlinson struck out 10 batters and allowed only five hits and one walk in a winning effort. In game two, Dalrymple pitched all seven innings to earn the win against the Raiders. Intihar was 1-for-2 with two runs scored, and Garvey went 1-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored. The Red scored nine runs on 10 hits, and seven of those runs came in the sixth inning.
“We were playing a pretty solid game against Colgate, when we had a couple physical and mental collapses,” said Blood. “But we readied the ship and came back with seven runs in the bottom of the sixth to ice the game. I was particularly pleased with that performance.”
Thursday evening yielded similar results for the Red, which opened the day with a 6-2 win over Wagner College (6-14). Marx pitched six innings to secure the win and Tomlinson earned the save, allowing one hit in one inning. Cornell totaled six runs on 11 hits with one error. The Red duplicated its success against Manhattan, scoring two runs on five hits thanks to offensive contributions from Menaker, Intihar, Amiraian and Garvey. Dalrymple proved a force to be reckoned with on the mound, going all seven innings and allowing only one hit.
“I think our pitching staff pitched outstanding. It’s a lot to ask a pitcher to pitch that many games in that short amount of time, but I think they did extremely well, and the defense got better every game,” Berkey said.
The wins kept on coming, as Cornell posted 2-0 and 9-5 victories over Fairleigh Dickinson (4-15) and Hartford, respectively. Against FDU, Tomlinson surrendered only three hits, compared to seven strikeouts –– good for a shutout. Cornell got the best of Hartford for the second time in a week, in a game highlighted by Berkey’s two-home run, five-RBI performance.
The Red wrapped up play at the Rebel Spring Games on Saturday afternoon with wins against Rider (5-14) and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (10-9). Cornell won against Rider, 8-0, with Marx earning the win in 4 1/3 innings; she allowed two hits and struck out one batter. Dulaney relieved her to close out the game in six. Berkey continued her offensive surge, leading the Red at the plate with three runs and a double. Freshman Shannon Crane went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, and freshman Morgan Cawley tacked on another run and contributed an RBI in a 2-for-3 showing. Cornell made sure to end its Florida road trip with a statement, downing Wisconsin-Green Bay, 10-1, in convincing fashion. Tomlinson struck out six batters, surrendering three hits and one run; Dalrymple came into the game for 1 2/3 innings, allowing no hits and no runs. At the plate, Berkey went 3-for-4 with one RBI, while Risica added two RBI on one hit. Menaker, who had gone 1-for-3 with an RBI and a double against Rider, collected three hits in three at-bats, with one run.
“All 23 people who came on the trip contributed in some way or another, whether they were people who were starters or came off the bench or had pinch-hit roles,” said Berkey. “Up and down our entire roster, everyone was able to say that they contributed something that determined the outcome of the game, which I think is really special because a lot of teams only rely on a certain few people to produce everything.”