Sometimes having the most wins isn’t enough to take home first place.
Despite a tournament-best 3-1 record this weekend, Penn finished second overall in the Penn Spring Invitational behind Villanova.
After falling to the Quakers in the tournament opener on Friday, the Wildcats turned the tables in the championship contest on Sunday afternoon, capturing a 3-2 victory at Penn Park.
The Red and Blue (13-10) swept their opening three games against ’Nova, Rider and Army, and the one-two punch of freshman Alexis Borden and sophomore Mikenzie Voves gave up just two earned runs in 19 innings during those games.
Meanwhile, Penn’s bats came alive, as Jessica Melendez hit the first home run of the spring season at Penn Park against Villanova on Friday afternoon, which lifted the Quakers to a 3-1 win.
Though the Quakers did not finish the weekend unscathed, the tournament revealed a team that is poised to hit its stride just in time for Ivy League competition.
Saturday morning, Penn lit up Rider for nine runs, including back-to-back home runs from Melendez and Georgia Guttadauro. The team cruised to a five-inning, mercy-rule 9-1 victory as Voves picked up the complete game win.
The matchup against Army, however, was a different beast entirely. While Penn had eight hits against Rider, the team managed just two against Army. But patience at the plate yielded 10 walks and six runs, allowing the Quakers to overcome an early 3-0 deficit to ultimately secure a 6-3 victory.
In the Sunday afternoon game against the Wildcats, it was Villanova who came from behind. In the bottom of the fourth, freshman Karina Rios put Penn ahead, 2-1, with an RBI single up the middle, scoring Jessica Melendez, who had reached base on an error.
However, Villanova responded with a solo home run from Briana Fujii in the sixth to tie the game again, 2-2. The Wildcats scored the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh on a double to right field off the bat of pitcher Molly Manning, who held the Quakers scoreless in the bottom half of the inning to seal the deal.
The four games this weekend marked the first long stint the Quakers have played at their new stadium at Penn Park, and the experience received glowing reviews from the team, despite the overcast weather Saturday and Sunday.
“I’m pretty sure I speak for everyone when we say we don’t really like playing away anymore,” Melendez said.
Though the playing field seemed flawless this weekend, the Quakers defense was not, racking up nine errors. Ironing out mistakes like these will be one of the focuses of practice in the next week, according to coach Leslie King, who is confident the team will be ready when Ivy League play begins Friday against Brown.
In fact, King sees some of these slip-ups as a sign of a team that is going to hit its stride at just the right time.
“I don’t want to be peaking at the end of March,” King said. “I want to be peaking at the end of April going into May.”
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