March 8, 2011

Softball Splits Opening Weekend

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The Cornell softball team (1-1) began its season last weekend in Fairfax, Va., playing Rider (1-6) and George Mason (5-4). The Red shut out Rider, 7-0, but lost to host George Mason, 2-1, both on Saturday. Despite splitting the weekend, the team is very optimistic about its start.The weather in Ithaca has prevented the team from practicing outside, so last weekend was the squad’s first experience playing outdoors.“The other teams had [seven or eight] games under their belts already,” said senior outfielder and tri-captain Marissa Amiraian. “For being our very first day outside, I think we’re pleased with how we performed. We obviously would have liked to walk away with two wins, but at least it was a good experience for us to be outside and see the other clubs.”Against Rider, Cornell played a very complete game; behind great defense and pitching — a collective effort by senior tri-captain Ali Tomlinson, Lauren Marx and freshman Alyson Onyon — the Red shut out the Broncs.  “Tomlinson was returning from shoulder surgery and was able to go[for five innings and two outs]. That was really nice to see,” said head coach Dick Blood. “We played pretty solid defense in that ballgame, which of course starts with starting pitching. At the same time, we banged the ball around a little bit and we had three players with two hits. … it was a good way to start the year.”The Red had a great game with its bats, as freshman infielder Lauren Bucolo, junior infielder Katie Watts and junior infielder Morgan Cawley each recorded two hits. The Red blew the game open in the fifth inning, scoring three runs courtesy Bucolo’s three-RBI double.We hit the ball really hard and a lot of people contributed, which was great,” Amiraian said. “It was nice to see that we can compete against other pitching, as we only see our [own] pitchers during all the intrasquad scrimmages indoors. It was really great to see that it’s paid off and we can perform against pitchers we haven’t seen.”The offense did not look nearly as sharp in the Red’s second game against the Patriots. Cornell managed only five hits against George Mason’s Miranda Cranford — who earned All-Colonial Athletic Association second-team honors last year as a freshman. The lone bright spot was freshman outfielder Christina Villalon’s solo home run in the fourth inning.“Our offense didn’t come through as well as it did in the first game,” Amiraian said. “Georgey Mason had a couple clutch at-bats and they came up with the win.”Senior pitcher and tri-captain Elizabeth Dalrymple pitched a scoreless game until the last inning, when George Mason’s Rachael Davies hit a walk-off two-out, two-run double to win the game.Blood blamed the team’s defense for the loss against George Mason.“Dalrymple pitched a really fine ballgame. We escaped a first inning jam and she got stronger as the game went along,” Blood praised. “We just did not take care of the ball and consequently, we gave them too many outs. We started the game with 21 outs and we gave them about 27 outs. George Mason played very, very sound defense and that’s why they won the ballgame.”Looking ahead, Blood is very confident in his pitchers, but realized that the offense and defense both needed a little tweaking.“The pitching staff was solid and I expect that they’ll be our strength this year,” Blood said. “Tomlinson, Dalrymple, Marx and Onyon all got innings. Although [junior pitcher] Jenna Stoller didn’t get a chance to throw this weekend; I expect that she will next weekend.”“We have to work on handling the ball the rest of this week,” Blood added. “At the same time, we must make sure we use the same mechanics at the plate during the ballgame as we do in practice. I think our plate mechanics broke down a little bit at times over the weekend.”The Red was scheduled to play two games each against Rider and George Mason; however, the two games to be played Sunday were cancelled due to weather conditions.Cornell will have a chance to redeem itself against George Mason next weekend, when the team heads back down to Fairfax for the George Mason Invitational.

Original Author: Albert Liao