Cornell softball (8-9, 2-1 Ivy) began the Ivy League season by visiting Harvard (11-9-1, 4-2 Ivy) in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a three-game series.
In the first game on Friday, Harvard earned an early offensive advantage with a four-run lead in the bottom of the first inning that also saw five registered hits. The Red returned the compliment in the top of the second when a bases-loaded situation saw a slap from freshman outfielder Kate Calloway to shortstop that resulted in a throwing error, which allowed junior outfielder Marisa Zorrilla to advance to third base and freshman infielder Ella Harrod and senior infielder Maicie Levitt return to home plate. Zorilla was able to reduce Harvard’s lead to 4-3 when a double from sophomore infielder Emma Antich flew into left field shortly afterward.
In the top of the third inning, a Zorrilla hit to the second baseman resulted in a fielder’s choice that allowed sophomore catcher Reagan London to advance to home plate, evening the score. The following inning witnessed Cornell take the lead when a double by senior catcher Celia Macari to right field sent Antich back home.
Following the Harvard-led first inning, senior pitcher Gabrielle Maday defiantly withstood the forces of the Crimson to help the Red gain and maintain its lead throughout the game. This 5-4 victory marked the first time since April 6, 2013 that Cornell had triumphed against Harvard in its Soldiers Field home.
The second Friday afternoon game starred a dominant Harvard performance that made up for the loss earlier in the day. Despite an initially close bout that saw Harvard lead the Red by a single run, the bottom of the sixth inning highlighted a Crimson five-run sortie. This 6-0 shutout loss to Harvard is currently tied with the Red’s 7-1 loss to Morgan State University on March 10 as its heaviest defeat of the season.
With both teams intent on winning the series, Sunday witnessed a game equally as close as the first one. Unlike the previous day, Cornell drew Crimson blood first when an Antich single allowed Calloway to open the scoreline in the top of the first inning.
The next inning featured two consecutive home runs from freshman infielder/catcher Lauren Holt and from Levitt that soared beyond left field. Macari expanded the lead in the top of the fifth with a four-bagger that was crushed to left field. The top of the sixth witnessed Zorrilla registering her second RBI of the season when a single up the middle gave Harrod the opportunity to extend Cornell’s lead to 5-0.
After preventing a shutout in the bottom of the sixth, the Crimson began to retaliate in the bottom of the seventh when a fielding error permitted a run that inspired two back-to-back runs later in that same inning. Despite Harvard’s persistence, the Red was able to impede a comeback as a flyball to senior infielder/outfielder Julie Hilcken at right field secured the 5-4 win.
These two wins for Cornell marked not only the first time since 2010 that the team was able to defeat Harvard at least twice in a single season, but also the first time since April 25, 2005 that the Red, as the visiting team, was able to defeat the Crimson twice in a single season.
On Tuesday, Binghamton (14-7) traveled to Niemand-Robison Field for the first time since 2018 to challenge Cornell in its home-opener of the 2023 season. The Red quickly found itself in a familiar situation when Binghamton attained a two-run lead; however, momentum swung in favor of Cornell when Harrod came to the rescue with a remarkable combination of speed, agility and awareness to make a diving catch from a Binghamton bunt attempt in the top of the fifth inning. This translated into the bottom of the fifth when Zorrilla took advantage of an Antich single to cut the Bearcats’ lead to 2-1.
Holt then crushed a four-bagger to right field in order to tie the score between the two upstate New York programs. Unfortunately for Cornell, a single run from the Bearcats in the top of the eighth sufficed in solidifying a 3-2 win in favor of Binghamton as the Red was unable to respond in the extra inning.
The Red seeks to gain its first home wins of the season in a three-game contest against Yale (8-14, 2-4 Ivy). The Bulldogs will make the trip to Ithaca for a game on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. and for a doubleheader on Monday starting at 11:00 a.m. at Niemand-Robison Field. All three games will be broadcast on ESPN+.
Sean Cabrera is a Sun Contributing Writer and can be reached at [email protected].