This past weekend, softball traveled to University Park, Pennsylvania for the Penn State Tournament. The Red (3-9, 0-0 Ivy) managed a 2-3 record for the weekend, defeating University of Massachusetts Lowell (12-8) twice and dropping a close match against Rider University (9-9) and two against Penn State (16-11).
The team handled several back-to-back matches and rain delays, but ultimately maintained its energy throughout the long tournament weekend, a skill many of the players anticipate using for the upcoming Ivy League season.
“We grew a lot as a team, and we saw the bats come together,” said junior short-stop Maicie Levitt. “We had a lot of close games, and I think it showed that we had a lot of fight.”
The weekend kicked off on Friday with two back-to-back matches against UMass Lowell and Penn State. After a hit to the first inning, junior short-stop Maicie Levitt put the Red on the board, 1-0. Additional runs from senior third-basemen Olivia Rooney and Levitt kept Cornell ahead of UMass Lowell, defeating them with a third out in the top of the seventh, 3-2.
“It can be intimidating to go to a tournament with so many big schools,” Levitt said. “But I think we changed our attitude so we knew that we could put up a good fight against these teams and take home some wins.”
A second tight match pitted the Red against Penn State. At the bottom of the seventh, both teams were evenly tied, 2-2, pushing the match to an eighth inning. Freshman left fielder Avery Wagner advanced to third, but couldn’t slide to home plate. A single from Penn in the bottom of the eighth gave the Nittany Lions the play they needed to finish off the game, 3-2 8 innings.
“We had a couple close games, which was a really good experience,” said freshman second-basemen Emma Antich. “Going into the Ivies, it’s good to have those under our belt.”
Similarly, the Red narrowly lost to Rider University on Saturday, 3-4. Entering the fifth inning down 1-0, Cornell needed to get on the board.
“We’re a team that just goes at it,” Antich said. “Being together gives us the energy that we need to feed off our teammates.”
Wagner scored the first run during a throwing error from the Rider catcher. Another error from the Rider second-basemen brought in Levitt and Antich on two additional unearned runs. The Red were now leading, 3-1. However, Cornell’s success was short-lived. Rider managed a victory by scoring one run per inning for the rest of the match. With no additional Cornell runs, the match ended, 3-4.
On the final tournament day, the bats were enchanted with good luck, and the teams all scored several runs. The Red faced UMass Lowell for the second time. At the top of the fourth, a hit from Antich batted in two runs, but the River Hawks managed to push ahead by the bottom of the fifth.
“There’s a lot of back and forth and teams coming back after we had scored a run,” Levitt said. “We kept fighting no matter what the score until the last pitch of the game.”
The Red had its highest-scoring inning of the tournament: Crist and Antich each scored a homerun, and with the assistance of four additional runs, the Red pushed ahead, 8-3. UMass Lowell attempted to scrape runs back, but Cornell kept them back, defeating the River Hawks, 8-5.
“The more at bats we’re getting, the more comfortable we are getting in the box and seeing the ball better,” Antich said. “Hitting really really well and putting runs up on the board made the game really electric.”
The team wasn’t quite so lucky during its second match against Penn State. A few excellent hits from Penn State in the fourth and fifth pushed a tight match to an irredeemable loss, 2-10 5 innings.
The team is already looking forward to next week’s matches including their first home game of the season.
“Everyone is really excited,” Antich said. “It’s been a long time since we played in an Ivy League game, and over a thousand days since we played at home. These games are extra special for the coaches and players who’ve had their seasons canceled.”
Softball will host its first Ivy match in three years on Saturday. For most of the team, this match will be the first home game they’ve ever had.
“It’s weird because I’m a junior and I’ve never played a home game on our own field,” Levitt said. “And I think there’s just a different excitement and energy when we’re on our home field, so I’m just excited to finally get to do that.”
And for many players this game will also be the first time they get to listen to their walk-up song. Antich selected “The Real Slim Shady” as her walk-up song.
“I haven’t gotten to experience the home game atmosphere at college,” said Antich. “I’m excited for the little things like our own walk-up music that makes it exciting to play at home.”
The Red will face Columbia (4-13, 2-1 Ivy) this weekend at home on Niemand-Robison Softball Field three times: at 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and at 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.