The Cornell softball team traveled more than 290 miles to Maryland to compete in the 2023 UMBC Retriever Classic on March 10.
The Red (4-6, 0-0 Ivy) commenced the invitational with a game against Merrimack College (2-7), . Cornell found itself in a four-run deficit within the first two innings until a top-of-the-third-inning grand slam from sophomore infielder Emma Antich allowed Antich, freshman catcher/infielder Lauren Holt, senior infielder Maicie Levitt and freshman outfielder Kate Callaway to equalize the game at 4-4.
At the top of the fourth, Holt altered the scoreboard once again with a solo home run that ultimately proved to be the deciding factor in the 5-4 victory. The combined total of nine strikeouts by senior pitcher Gabrielle Maday and freshman pitcher Madalyn Covelli from this contest is the most in a single game by Cornell since the team’s twelve strikeouts against the University at Albany on February 21, 2020.
Later that same Friday, the Red went toe to toe with Morgan State University (9-10) in the early afternoon. Cornell was unable to topple the Bears, who had been in the lead since the top of the second.
A fielding error in the bottom of the sixth allowed Levitt to reach home plate, but this did not prove sufficient to disrupt the Bears’ rhythm, as Morgan State University scored four more runs in the seventh inning. This 7-1 defeat for Cornell softball is the heftiest loss of the season so far.
The Red began its Saturday with a second game against Merrimack College. Although the Warriors scored the first run of the game by stealing home plate in the top of the first, Cornell retaliated in that same inning. The Red dictated the game when freshman infielder/outfielder Sydney Stapf hit a go-ahead, three-run homer that allowed her, Antich and freshman infielder Ella Harrod to advance to home plate.
The subsequent inning witnessed a solo Levitt home run that extended the lead to 4-1. As a result of Stapf’s hitting a single to left field in the bottom of the third, Antich was able to advance to home plate for a second time. Stapf scored yet another run in that same inning when Holt hit a single to right-center field, which expanded Cornell’s lead to 6-1.
Harrod scored her second run by reading the situation and taking advantage of a wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth. Shortly afterward, Antich was able to achieve her third run of the game, thanks to an error by the Merrimack College first baseman. The game ended in a dominant 8-2 victory for the Red.
Hours later, the Red encountered the UMBC Retrievers (8-5) in a tightly contested meeting. The game was at a stalemate until senior catcher Celia Macari crushed a homer to center field in the top of the fourth. The Red doubled its lead in the following inning when Antich hit a one-bagger that allowed Harrod to score a run for the third time that entire Saturday.
Even though UMBC scored a run in the bottom of the seventh, Cornell was able to leash the Retrievers and secure a 2-1 win. This game featured a Gabrielle Maday-pitching masterclass, as she became the first player on the team to single-handedly deal nine or more strikeouts across the span of a single game since senior pitcher Mia Burd did so on February 21, 2020.
On Sunday, Cornell sought payback against Morgan State University for the loss in that same weekend. The Bears drew first blood in the top of the first inning when a two-run home run gave them an early advantage. Morgan State University extended its lead in the third inning to 3-0. Thanks to a single by Macari that allowed Stapf to return to home plate, the 3-1 scoreline provided some hope for the Red, who wanted to accomplish its third comeback win of the invitational.
Unfortunately for Cornell, Morgan State University was able to withstand the pressure from its Ivy League opposition and hold onto this scoreline for the rest of the game, which handed Cornell its second loss of the Retriever Classic and sixth loss of the season.
The Red will play its first game of the Penn State Tournament on Friday at 11 a.m. in a rematch against the UMBC Retrievers.
Sean Cabrera is a Sun Contributing Writer. He can be reached at [email protected].