For Penn and Cornell, the roles are now reversed.
For the first time in five years, the Penn softball team will face Cornell without graduated star pitcher Elizabeth Dalrymple. This time, the Quakers will feature the ace.
The history of the series between these two Ivy rivals has been defined by Dalrymple’s dominance in the circle.
The two-time Ivy League Pitcher of the Year and three-time first-team All-Ivy pitcher owned the Quakers. Winning all six of her starting appearances against Penn, Dalrymple was the one thing the Red and Blue couldn’t solve.
In fact, the Quakers have not won their annual four-game series against Cornell since the 2006-07 season, when the Quakers last won the South Division, and one year before Dalrymple enrolled at Cornell.
Now Dalrymple has graduated and it’s Penn’s turn to have the star pitcher.
Freshman Alexis Borden, who already boasts 16 wins — including back-to-back complete games in one day against Princeton — will rely on her deceptive change-up to mow down a strong Cornell lineup that includes four players hitting above .300.
“Usually good pitching will beat good hitting,” coach Leslie King said. “Alexis has a great change-up and that sets up the rest of her game … A hitter gets a little bamboozled.”
Borden already has more experience than Dalrymple did during her freshman season.
Borden has appeared in 20 games this season and logged 131 innings — Dalrymple tallied 55 innings in her entire freshman season.
With Dalrymple departed, Penn will be going up against a completely new pitching staff.
“I think as a team we do a pretty good job of making adjustments when we need to and recognizing early what pitches a pitcher has and what they go to in certain situations,” King said. “We know what she’s throwing after the first inning.”
Despite only one of Cornell’s five pitchers being a freshman, senior Lauren Marx is the only pitcher the Quakers have ever faced.
Marx has five wins this season and has posted a 3.05 ERA, but has not fared well against the Red and Blue in the past.
In her last appearance against Penn during the 2009-10 season, she yielded five runs in three innings as Cornell lost. It was the Quakers’ only win against the Big Red in the past four years.
Cornell has also relied on sophomore Alyson Onyon and senior Jenna Stoller this season, whose ERAs sit at 3.81 and 4.29, respectively. Both are behind Penn’s best pitchers: Borden, and sophomore Mikenzie Voves.
Though Borden has been dominant for the Red and Blue, she will not be the only crucial part of Penn’s staff.
“We’re going to do whatever we feel is going to give us the best chance in every game,” King said. “I don’t expect [Borden] to pitch four games … She’ll give us as much as she can, but we have to pace her, and the rest of the staff is going to have to contribute at some point during the weekend.”
This will be a crucial turning point for Penn if it wants to take the South Division title, but King feels that the pressure rests on Cornell’s shoulders.
“We’re kind of throwing the pressure back at Cornell,” King said. “They’re the ones that have to come here with the target on their back.”
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