April 20, 2011

Softball Squad Digs Deep to Face Penn

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As the Ivy League playoffs approach for Cornell’s softball team, games take on a greater importance. This weekend, Cornell (18-18-1, 7-5-0 Ivy League) will host Penn (14-16-1, 6-6-0) for four games in the second-to-last weekend of Ivy League play — knowing that the Quakers stand just one game behind them in the Ivy League South Division. The two teams will play doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday at Niemand-Robison Field.

Although the Red realizes how close Penn is in the standings, it will not change its mindset going into the games this weekend.

“We want to win four games every weekend, so this is just another weekend,” said senior outfielder and tri-captain Marissa Amiraian. “Any team can show up any day and bring their best stuff, so I wouldn’t say this weekend has any more importance than … any other weekend.”

Head coach Dick Blood agreed with this assessment — feeling that the players should worry about improving themselves and not their opponents.

“I think we’re thinking more about ourselves than our opponent,” Blood said. “We [misfired] on all cylinders [last weekend], so we need to get our bats going and we need to defend a little bit better.”

Last weekend, the Red was slightly disappointed by splitting the four games with Columbia (11-24-0, 3-9), so the team will look to improve on its performance, especially at the plate.

“We struggled at the plate in RBI situations and we need to get the bats off our shoulders better,” Blood assessed. “We need to be more aggressive at the plate.”

“I think the biggest thing we’re going to need to improve on from this past weekend to this coming weekend would be hitting, I think Columbia proved that,” Amiraian echoed. “In the 2 games they won, they came through with a couple more hits than we did and they won because of it. In the past, Penn has been a really good, aggressive hitting team, so we’re just going to have to top them and come out even stronger, stringing together some hits in order to pull out a few more runs than they do.”

Among those who struggled at the plate last weekend is the normally dependable sophomore catcher Kristen Towne. Towne — the team leader in home runs and RBIs — only had one hit in her 11 at-bats against Columbia, but will look to bounce back this weekend against Penn. Amiraian has performed well despite the rest of her team’s struggles — hitting .461 this past weekend with two walks.

On the mound, the Red will look to its Ivy League Pitcher of the Year candidate senior tri-captain Elizabeth Dalrymple to shut down Penn’s offense. Despite allowing six runs in her third game last weekend, she continues to lead the Ivy League by a sizeable margin with an ERA of 1.54. The other starting spot has been in flux as several pitchers have struggled in the role. Junior pitcher Lauren Marx has been the latest pitcher given a chance to earn the starting role, but has struggled in her last two starts, allowing four runs in 1.1 innings in the third game against Columbia. Senior Ali Tomlinson performed well relieving Marx — allowing no earned runs in 4.2 innings of work.

Penn heads into the weekend on a tear, as it won all four of its games last weekend against Princeton. Behind the strong pitching of freshman Mikenzie Voves and junior Cailyn Hennessy, the Quakers did not allow the Tigers to score more than two runs in any one game. Their offense was clicking as well, as they managed to score 16 combined runs in their last two games.

When asked how the team has performed to date, coach Blood thought that they were more talented than their record suggested and that the team needed to improve in order to win another Ivy League Championship.

“I’d say we’ve underachieved. There’s still room for improvement and I think we can get there, but I would not say that we’ve overachieved by any expectations,” Blood said. “There’s room for improvement and that needs to begin right again.”

Amiraian had a different opinion on the matter, as she did not take their current one-game lead in the South Division for granted.

“I think we’ve put ourselves in a great spot. Winning the division is really all we can ask for. Every team is really good in our division, I think we’re happy that we can continue to lead our division,” Amiraian said. “We still need to work hard to finish off these last 2 series against Penn and Princeton in order to win the [Ivy League title], but overall, we couldn’t be in a better spot at this point.”

Despite any bumps along the way, the goal remains the same for the Red.

“Going into [the season], we all really wanted to win an Ivy League championship … and that’s still the goal in mind,” Amiraian said. “I think we first want to focus on winning our division … but I don’t think our mindset has changed at all.”

Original Author: Albert Liao