The Quakers may be the only undefeated team in Ivy play, but for freshman ace Alexis Borden, there is no security in being at the top of the standings.
After making serious dents in Brown and Yale’s conference records last weekend, the Penn softball team (19-10, 4-0 Ivy) will look to keep its momentum going against Harvard and Dartmouth this weekend.
“There’s a lot of pressure because we’re 4-0 in the league, but we feel like we’re ready to take on Harvard and Dartmouth,” Borden said.
Borden, who has already been named Rookie of the Week twice, was just awarded Pitcher of the Week for her 4-0 week in the circle.
She pitched a two-hit shutout against La Salle last Wednesday, struck out a season-high 12 batters in Game 1 of the Quakers’ Friday doubleheader against Brown, picked up another win in relief in the second game against Brown and pitched yet another complete game shutout in the first game against Yale on Saturday.
For the week, she boasted a 0.90 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 23.1 innings of work.
“It’s exciting to win Ivy honors, but it’s more exciting that we’re doing this well as a team,” Borden said.
Hitting machines Sydney Turchin and Jessica Melendez also made the honor roll for their dominant performances at the plate last week.
Turchin had a hit in five of Penn’s six games, batting .438 with a .591 on-base percentage. Melendez hit three home runs against Brown and drove in seven runs over the course of the doubleheader.
“The girls are in a really good place,” pitching coach Lisa Sweeney said. “I know they’re confident and ready to play.”
The Quakers will take on Dartmouth on Friday in the first Ivy road trip of the season. The Big Green (7-12, 0-4) are on a seven-game losing skid. They are last in the league in runs scored (57), hits (120) and RBIs (40). The Quakers lead in all of the above categories — they have scored 110 runs, recorded 189 hits and batted in 95 runs.
Defending Ivy champs Harvard (15-9, 3-1) will be the Red and Blue’s test on Saturday.
“We lost to them, 2-1, in one of the games last year, so I know that’s a game that’s still on their minds,” Sweeney said. “They still think they should have won, so I think they’re really going to be going into the Harvard game with a lot of fire.”
The Crimson have the third-best team batting average in the league at .261 to Penn’s fourth-best at .256. Harvard also features the second-best team ERA at 2.29, but the Quakers top them with a league-best 2.18.
The Penn and Harvard pitching staffs are tied in strikeouts on the season with 168. The Quakers’ league-best OBP of .351 is well ahead of Harvard’s .314 percentage, but as Sweeney noted, numbers do not always tell the whole story in Ivy play.
With the Quakers’ momentum going into the weekend of conference games, Sweeney stressed that the team has finally been putting all of the elements of the game together.
“Physically, it’s always been there,” Sweeney said. “But now it’s there mentally too, and that makes all the difference.”
She further noted how significant a role team chemistry has played in the team’s success.
“I think for most people, a six-hour bus trip is daunting,” she said. “But I think they really look forward to it. They just have so much fun together.”