Cornell softball had a bumpy start to its season. Not only did the team lose five of its first seven, it also had a good chunk of its games cancelled due to inclement weather and lost several players due to injury. Compared to the rest of the teams in the division, the Red was at a significant disadvantage.
Head coach Julie Farlow ’97 commented on the tough start to the season.
“I would’ve liked to have played more games,” she said. “We still have too few games played, but there’s not too much we can do about it now. … We would like to have more at-bats, our pitchers would like to have more innings going into it, but we don’t, so there’s not much we can do about it.”
Despite these setbacks, the women pulled ahead during last weekend’s Mount St. Mary’s invitational in Maryland, bringing their overall season record to 5-6, a big contrast to where they were two weeks ago.
On Saturday, they faced Canisius and Morgan State and defeated both teams by one run.
Cornell won game one against Canisius 3-2. This also gave junior pitcher Maddie Orcutt her first win of the season after pitching a complete game and only surrendering the two runs.
Offensively, the lineup had five hits. Junior left fielder Jessica Bigbie drove in a run from sophomore Tori Tagashi, who was pinch hitting. Sophomore second-baseman Rebecca Kubena brought in another run by Tagashi, and freshman first-baseman Bridgette Rooney hit her first homerun of the season.
The Red’s second game of the day was against the Morgan State Bears and also ended with a 3-2 Cornell victory. Freshman Lisa Nelson did the bulk of the pitching, who — until the sixth inning — had kept the Bears scoreless and had given up just one hit.
“As the game went on, my confidence was growing,” Nelson said. “[But] in the sixth inning I didn’t really have enough to go the full game — I was getting kind of tired.”
Nelson left the game in the sixth inning with the bases loaded. Freshman Cora Geunes came on in relief to take care of the remaining two innings.
Only two runs scored off of Geunes, and the freshman earned her first save of the season. Nelson also earned her second collegiate win in the process.
Offensively, Bigbie and junior centerfielder Zoe Hernandez both scored within the first two innings of the game off of a double and an error, respectively. The next, and ultimately winning, run came from sophomore catcher Olivia Lam, who was driven in by Bigbie.
“We put a lot of hard work in, both in the off-season and since the season has started, and it’s really been nice to see those results, so it’s great to go 3-1 in a weekend,” said junior right fielder Megan Murray. “Not every win is gonna be easy, so it’s nice to see the resilience the team had, and how we were able to close out the games.”
Sunday’s games were a bit tougher, as the Red faced Manhattan College and Mount St. Mary’s.
Against the Jaspers, the Red struggled to pull ahead, eventually losing the game 7-3. Despite two runs by Bigbie and Kubena in the first inning and hits from Bigbie, Tagashi and Rooney, the Jaspers scored six in the third and never looked back.
Freshman Katie Lew took the loss in Sunday’s game number one.
“There were some good moments throughout the game, but in the [third] inning we didn’t play as well as we could’ve defensively,” Murray said, referring to several errors that extended the critical inning.
Coach Farlow agreed with Murray’s explanation of what went wrong, citing poor gameplay. However, she chose to put a positive spin on the loss.
“It was almost good for us to experience that because that’s what happens if we play poorly. It’s very hard to win if you don’t play well,” she said.
Cornell closed out the weekend with another win — this time in a higher-scoring game against Mount St. Mary’s, the host school.
The Red scored three runs in the first inning after a double from Bigbie, a two-run homer from Murray and a single from sophomore catcher Madeline Avery. The Mountaineers, however, fought back with four runs in the third, and this give-and-take continued throughout the game. Cornell scored five in the sixth, and Mount St. Mary’s retaliated with three runs in the seventh. Even with the offensive production lasting all seven innings, the Red stood its ground for an 8-7 win.
“I always love playing close games because they’re so much more fun and interesting,” Nelson said after pitching the entire game.
Now the Red must prepare for its first taste of Ivy League play with a game on Friday against Yale and on Saturday against Brown.
“On paper, we’re not scaring a lot of people right now, but I’m really confident in the players we have, and I think if we really kind of play our own game and kind of worry a little bit less about our opponent, we’ll be okay,” Farlow said.
Historically, the Red has not fared well against the Bulldogs nor against the Bears. Nonetheless, the team and coaching staff are not intimidated.
“They both will be tough,” Farlow acknowledged. “They each have a balanced pitching staff, and they’re both very well-coached so I know they’ll be prepared … but we’re looking forward to it. We’re ready to play Ivies.”