April 14, 2009

Softball Team Sweeps Penn in Weekend Doubleheaders

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The softball team made sitting in the cold, blustery weather worth it to the Red crowd who bundled up to avoid wind chill in this weekend’s doubleheaders against Penn. The Red came away with victories in all four games of the series to annihilate the visiting Quakers.
After sweeping Penn over the weekend, Cornell (31-7, 10-2 Ivy) tops the Ivy South Division standings and boasts better overall and league records than North Division leader Dartmouth (18-14, 9-3 Ivy).
“The weekend put us in a really good position in the Ivy League,” said junior shortstop Alyson Intihar. “The team grew over the last couple of days, and the wins have created momentum to carry us into future contests.”
Gearing up for the Saturday doubleheader, the Red did not anticipate that it would be battling the wind, in addition to the Quakers. However, given the positive outcomes of the South Division matchup, no one could protest Mother Nature.
“We are used to the weather. We are in Ithaca,” Intihar said. “In terms of hitting, when the wind is blowing in like that, you want to hit low line drives. We just had to make the adjustment mentally.”
For better, or for worse, balls hit high to the outfield were being carried by the wind.
“Every inning the wind was changing. We had to look at the flag and pick up grass to determine the direction it was blowing,” said freshman leftfielder Cassie Walisiak.
Walisiak is the only rookie who has managed to break into the starting lineup this spring. Until recently, Walisiak served as a pinch bunter off the bench. This weekend, she earned a starting role in the outfield and had some clutch hits and plays to prove that she has the maturity and poise to be an asset for the team’s remaining season.
“The wind actually helped me,” said sophomore pitcher Elizabeth Dalrymple, “Because the wind was coming in, making it harder for batters to hit home runs, it was somewhat of an advantage from the pitcher’s standpoint. In the beginning of the game, it was blowing toward the right side of the infield, which goes along with my curveball.”
Wind or no wind, the Red plays its game regardless of the conditions, and it does it together.
“Chemistry is one of the biggest factors contributing to our success this season,” Intihar said.
“Everyone is always backing each other up,” Walisiak said, “Our team’s versatility makes for a number of powerful, consistent lineups. This weekend, we were able to string hits together.”
Cornell displayed its hitting depth and dominance in Game 1 on Saturday. In the bottom of the first inning, Intihar hit a solo home run to start the Red’s offense for the day.
Strong pitching from Dalrymple and Penn’s Jessie Lupardus kept both teams scoreless in the second and third innings.
A Quaker home run and a double followed by a base hit for two runs in the top of the fifth would be all for Penn. The Red finished off the Quakers after just five innings by touching home plate four more times for the 11-3 win.
Cornell won the second game, 10-7, in what was shaping up to be decisive 5-inning victory for the Red –– that is until Penn rallied in the top of the fifth to stay alive for another two innings of play.
The Red was on the attack in the bottom of the first. Cornell notched five early runs to unravel the Penn pitcher, who was quickly replaced by Cailyn Hennessey. Intihar, March and Menaker all scored before Risica ripped a home run to center with Garvey on second to notch two RBIs.
Sophomore pitcher Ali Tomlinson started the game and allowed one earned run in the top of the fourth before freshman Lauren Marx came in to relieve in the fifth inning. However, Tomlinson re-entered the game following several Red errors. Some good hitting from the Quakers coupled with several inherited runners for the Red ace brought Penn within three, That was before Tomlinson and the rest of the team sealed the win by shutting down Penn in the seventh inning.
“It goes to show how important each play is, because one play leads to the next. We can never take an opponent for granted,” Dalrymple said. “Any team, including us, can come back from behind.”
On Sunday, Cornell came out with just as much energy and vigor. The Red clinched both games of the second doubleheader, 4-1 and 13-4. By the end of the day, Cornell had completely exhausted its opponent.
“We just kept chipping away and didn’t let up. This is important to remember and to continue doing,” Walisiak said. “From a freshman perspective, the Ivies are strong. Coach keeps saying to take every game just as that game, not to focus on the series.”