You can never have enough top-notch pitching.
And it will be pitching that the Quakers will turn to as they take on Lehigh in a midweek doubleheader Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.
“We know we can count on our pitchers to always give us a chance to win,” said pitching coach Lisa Sweeney, who faces her alma mater in Wednesday’s contests.
In her collegiate career, Sweeney was a record-setting pitcher at Lehigh. She won the Patriot League’s Pitcher of the Year award in each of her four seasons as a Mountain Hawk, amassing 928 strikeouts and 94 victories. Comparing the Quakers to the Mountain Hawks, Sweeney felt the two teams are very similar.
“We both have some good pitchers and some good hitters,” she said. “This will be a good test for us, to see how we hold up against a team that is so like us in terms of their capabilities.”
Penn’s pitching has been dominant in the first month of the season: the staff has a combined earned run average of just 2.46 over 17 games and 116.2 innings pitched. They have allowed only four home runs and 19 extra-base hits.
Of the pitchers, freshman standout Alexis Borden (6-1, 1.23 ERA) was recently awarded Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this season after her impressive performance against Temple over the weekend. She pitched eight innings against the Owls, allowing six hits and two earned runs while striking out 10.
Sophomore Mikenzie Voves (2-2, 1.85 ERA) has also put up a strong showing so far, with 24 strikeouts in six starts and one save. Junior Lindsay Mann (1-0, 2.33 ERA) allowed only three hits and one run in her start against Temple last weekend.
“Our pitching staff is definitely one of the best Penn has ever had,” Mann said.
The dominant pitching has saved some tight wins and kept losses close, but both Sweeney and Mann recognize that the Quakers need to get their bats going.
“The pitching staff and the defense have really been solid, which is good because the hitters haven’t really hit their stride yet,” Mann said. “We’ve really been focusing on hitting so that we can be ready for this game and for Ivy play starting next week.”
“Lehigh hits really well, so this will be a test to see if our players can step up,” Sweeney echoed.
The Mountain Hawks (9-11) have a team batting average of .290 compared with Penn’s .247. They have scored 84 runs and allowed 67, while their overall on-base percentage is .355. The Quakers have scored 50 runs and allowed 57, and have an OBP of .327. Lehigh has six hitters with individual batting averages over .300, while the Quakers only have two.
However, the Quakers have a clear advantage on the mound with two pitchers with sub-2.00 ERAs — Borden and Voves.
“We’re going into this with a lot of confidence, and this will be our opportunity to put everything together — pitching, hitting and fielding,” Sweeney said.
The Quakers will need a complete team effort against Lehigh in preparation for this weekend’s four-team tournament, the Penn Spring Invitational, between Penn, Rider, Army and Villanova.
“We feel good,” Mann said. “We’re ready for them.”
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