In the past four seasons, Penn softball has claimed one victory against Cornell. This weekend, the Quakers beat the Big Red three times in just over 24 hours.
Entering the series two games behind Cornell, the Red and Blue defied history by winning three of four against the Big Red to tie up the race for first in the Ivy League South Division.
The Quakers (27-15, 11-5 Ivy) swept their opponent in a doubleheader on Friday before splitting with the Big Red (21-19, 11-5) on Saturday.
“Taking three for four from [Cornell] is a very good weekend for us,” coach Leslie King said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve done that.”
To be exact, this is the first four-game series Penn has won against Cornell since 2007, which was also the last time the program captured the division title.
Freshman Alexis Borden reinforced her bid for Ivy League Pitcher of the Year with complete game wins in the first and third matches of the weekend, as she conceded just three earned runs in 14 innings in those performances.
However, the rookie pitcher narrowly avoided a loss in the second game of the series thanks to an offensive outburst by the Quakers.
In the second half of Friday’s doubleheader, Borden yielded three runs in 3.2 innings before being relieved by sophomore Mikenzie Voves. With the Penn offense looking stagnant, Cornell was nursing a comfortable 5-0 lead by the fifth inning.
But in the bottom of the fifth, the bats came alive. Georgia Guttadauro, Samantha Erosa and Elysse Gorney singled, Kayla Dahlerbruch launched a three-run homer and the Quakers scored five runs in the inning to tie the game.
After a scoreless sixth for Cornell, Guttadauro opened the inning with a solo shot, and Gorney soon followed with a three-run bomb of her own, as the Quakers claimed victory, 9-6.
Saturday, Penn picked up where it left off, scoring eight runs in the first two innings.Cornell avoided the mercy-rule loss, but Penn cruised to a 9-2 victory.
In the first three games of the series, the Quakers racked up 23 runs on 25 hits. But in the second half of Saturday’s doubleheader, Cornell held Penn scoreless behind a five-hit, complete game performance by Alyson Onyon.
The Big Red pitcher stayed ahead in the count throughout the game and stifled the Penn offense on the way to a 5-0 win.
“We pressed a little in the batter’s box and just didn’t have good at-bats,” King said. “Whenever [Onyon] got ahead of us, we started chasing stuff out of the strike zone.”
Despite offensive struggles in the last game, Penn’s bench and field remained energetic.
“Even just their general talk … throughout the game out on the field, I thought was really good, and that’s something that’s developed,” King said. “I think they’re playing with a lot more confidence.”
As the Quakers are now tied with Cornell in Ivy standings, this weekend’s four-game set against Columbia will very likely determine whether the Red and Blue walk away with a division title. Cornell will head to Princeton for a four-game series.
“Right now, we’re confident,” Erosa said. “But … we’re going to keep our heads level.”
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