These days, it’s always sunny in Philadelphia.
Wednesday afternoon the beautiful weather will provide Penn softball with a picturesque backdrop in its home opener against Saint Joseph’s in the first game at the new Penn Park stadium.
“[Penn Park] is a beautiful facility,” coach Leslie King said. “We’re going to enjoy it and the weather is supposed to be spectacular so it should be a lot of fun.”
According to King, the team’s return from their annual spring break trip to the Sunshine State usually means “cold weather and Under Armour.”
Not this time though, as temperatures are expected to reach the low seventies by first pitch. It’s not Florida, but no one’s going to complain.
“We kind of feel acclimated with the weather that we’re having,” King said.
On paper, the Quakers (8-5) and Hawks (5-12) have had opposite seasons so far. While the Red and Blue went 7-1 last week after starting out the season with one win in their first five games, St. Joe’s went just 1-6 in a California road trip after winning four of their first six.
But that doesn’t mean the task will be easy for the Quakers. In last year’s doubleheader home opener, they lost both of their games against the Hawks.
St. Joseph’s has a team earned run average of 2.44 this year. Seniors Erin Gallagher (2.56 ERA in 57.1 innings pitched) and Taryn Ashway (2.77 ERA in 43 innings pitched), who were key reasons for last year’s defeat, are still in the lineup for the Hawks.
“We definitely need to do a better job at the plate,” King said.
Indeed, Penn has faced a power outage of sorts. Despite Sydney Turchin’s and Kayla Dahlerbruch’s hot starts — they are batting .385 and .316, respectively — no one on the team has hit a home run yet.
On the other hand, Saint Joseph’s is led by the duo of Rochelle Christman, who has two homers so far, and Bernadette Moran, whose .280 batting average leads the team.
Last year, Christman had a career-high seven runs batted in against the Red and Blue, including a three-run homer.
But this time around, King knows she can count on her pitchers, who have kept the team in ball games all season long.
“I would like our pitching to continue to be [as] strong as it was in Florida,” she said.
Penn currently sports a 2.37 ERA, second-best among Ivy League schools, and all four pitchers have recorded at least one win.
Freshman Alexis Borden, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week, leads the effort with a 1.35 ERA in seven appearances. In four starts, she already has two shutouts. Sophomore Mikenzie Voves, who leads the team with five starts, has a 1.84 ERA and a shutout.
For many of the students on campus, the good weather will be tomorrow’s highlight. For the Quakers, revenge in their home opener would be even better.