April 28, 2009

Softball Sweeps Contests Against Ivy Rival Princeton

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With the South Division title already wrapped up, the Red showed no signs of complacency in its victory lap — a four-game home-and-home series with Princeton. Playing to secure home field advantage for the Ivy League Championships, the softball team swept the Tigers at Princeton on Friday and in Ithaca on Sunday and will now play in Ithaca against Dartmouth for the Ivy title.
Coming into the weekend at 13-3, Cornell (40-10, 17-3 Ivy) had already secured the division title, but home field advantage in the championship series was still up for grabs. Dartmouth (22-20, 13-7) started the weekend with 11 wins, just one game ahead of Harvard in the North. After the Crimson took the first two games in its series to leapfrog the Green for first place in the division, Cornell knew that the best-of-three series for Ivy supremacy would be played in Ithaca.
“I think [home field advantage] is the most important aspect of the series,” said junior first baseman Ashley Garvey. “It would be a pain in the butt to travel to Dartmouth and take 2 out of 3. Getting them to come to Ithaca is probably the best thing that could have happened to us.”[img_assist|nid=37265|title=Yes, she’s that good|desc=Sophomore pitcher Ali Tomlinson earned two wins for the Red against Princeton last weekend, while also excelling as a designated hitter.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
After dropping back one game from the Crimson, Dartmouth took both games on day two to jump past Harvard and take back first place — and with it, an invitation to play Cornell for the Ivy League Championship at Niemand Robinson Softball Field.
“We went to Dartmouth and we split,” Garvey said. “The first game we didn’t really play our game, but then in the second game we played how we normally can and we came away with a big win. We don’t play anyone lightly, and we’re looking forward to showing them what Big Red softball really is.”
Cornell outscored Princeton 23-5 over the course of the four games, yet never held the lead in the first two innings until the final game of the series. In Game 1, Cornell broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the fifth, eventually winning 5-1. In Game 2, Cornell was the first — and only — team to score, waiting until the third inning to put runs on the board. In Game 3, the Red trailed Princeton 2-1 until it put together a three-run fourth inning.
Finally, in Game 4, Cornell broke the game open right away with four runs in the first, eventually winning 7-2. The league-leading offense was working all weekend long, led by Jessy Berkey. The senior hit a homer on Friday at Princeton and again Sunday at Cornell, totaling four RBIs. Junior Ashley Garvey also hit a homer in the away series, while senior Meg Risica hit a homer in Game 4 in Ithaca.
Not to be outdone in the batters’ box was sophomore pitcher Ali Tomlinson. As the designated hitter in Games 1 and 3 and pitcher in Games 2 and 4, Tomlinson went 5-12 — including a three-run, game-winning homer in the Red’s 4-2 win in Game 3.
“Instead of trying to find someone else to put in the lineup, Ali can hit for herself,” Garvey said. “To have someone who’s such a great all-around player is such a benefit to this team and gives us more confidence having her on defense and offense. I’m glad coach gave her a chance to swing the bat this season. I’m glad he made that change, and it’s really been working out for us.”
In addition to winning Game 3 with her bat, Tomlinson won Games 2 and 4 with her arm. Tomlinson threw a complete seven innings with seven strikeouts for a shutout win in Game 2. She followed that up by allowing just one earned run in another complete game to finish up the series and improve to 16-5.
Tomlinson’s counterpart in the circle — classmate Elizabeth Dalrymple –— was equally impressive, moving to 17-3 with two complete games of her own. Dalrymple gave up just one run with nine strikeouts in Game 1, and then struck out seven while giving up two runs in Game 3.
With the four wins over the weekend, the Red finished with 40 wins for the second consecutive season. The team will have a nonconference tune-up tomorrow against Syracuse before facing off with Dartmouth this weekend for the Ivy title. The Green and Red split their doubleheader earlier in the year in New Hampshire. Dartmouth won Game 1 in 10 innings before Cornell won Game 2 in a 10-2 blowout.