Entering last weekend’s Delaware Invitational riding a two-game winning streak, the tables turned for the Red, sending them home on a two-game losing streak, with a weekend record of 1-3.
This weekend was the final set of non-conference tournament games, with Cornell playing double-headers on Saturday and Sunday against Villanova and Delaware. With four games on the table to add to their record before heading into Ivy League conference play, the Red stumbled, losing both games against the Wildcats and splitting with the Blue Hens.
“I’m happy with how we competed, but losing all these close games is frustrating,” said head coach Julie Farlow. “We made some errors defensively and on the base paths that our opponents took advantage of.”
The first day of the invitational saw the women go 1-1.
The morning started off against the Wildcats and a 7-5 loss. Cornell was shut down completely until the fifth inning and faced a 6-0 deficit. The Red managed to claw its way back in fifth, plating two runs on a throwing error before senior Megan Murray drove in a run with an RBI single. The Red tallied two more runs in the sixth, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Wildcats’ early lead.
The day continued with an afternoon match against the Blue Hens, a low-scoring and tightly-matched game. The teams remained scoreless until the third, when the Blue Hens broke the tie. Sophomore Lisa Nelson held Delaware at a single run in seven innings, and didn’t allow a single baserunner in the final two frames. Cornell added two runs from Murray and junior Madeline Avery to the board in the sixth inning to pull out the win.
Farlow said strong defensive play was important in the win, but that the Red needs to provide its pitchers more run support going forward.
“Our pitchers threw very well,” Farlow said. “They’ve found their rhythm and are doing a nice job. Our outfield made nice adjustments on day two after struggling in a big park on day one. I’d like to see us start scoring a bunch of runs and give our defense a bit of a cushion.”
The second day reinforced the coach’s impression that the women are strong defensively but need to step up their game at the plate.
Once again playing Villanova, the Red took an early lead over the Wildcats, knocking in two runs and holding the Wildcats scoreless until the fifth inning. Nelson struck out seven and scattered eight hits, but surrendered three runs in a loss, allowing Villanova to earn a sweep.
For the last game of the weekend, Cornell’s offense couldn’t manage to find a spark, leading to a 2-0 loss to Delaware. Sophomore pitcher Katie Lew kept the Blue Hens to eight hits and two runs, but the Red couldn’t put together solid at-bats against the Blue Hens’ Sarah Piening, who allowed just three hits in a complete game shutout.
Heading into its first Ivy League game this weekend, Cornell holds a 5-8 overall record as it looks to turn its losing streak back into a string of wins. Farlow knows what the team needs to do to make this happen.
“We’ll have to be very sharp against Harvard. They’re a good team,” Farlow said. “We can’t waste at-bats and we’ll need to make quick adjustments to their pitchers.”
The Red will start its conference season against Harvard on Saturday and Sunday, both at 12:30 p.m. at the Niemand-Robison softball field.