After a long countdown to Ivy League play, the Penn softball team wasted no time in making history.
In their opening weekend of conference play, the Quakers (13-11, 3-1 Ivy) swept Harvard for the first time since 2003, defeating the defending-champion Crimson on Friday at Penn Park, 6-3 and 7-2.
Meanwhile, sophomore pitcher Alexis Borden added to her growing list of accolades, passing Jessie Lupardus for most strikeouts in Penn softball history.
The Red and Blue followed the sweep by stumbling against Dartmouth and conceding a 4-1 loss on Saturday. But the Quakers rebounded in the second half of the doubleheader to split with the Big Green (13-13, 2-2), picking up a 3-1 victory behind strong pitching from senior Lindsay Mann.
Though Borden secured a spot in Penn history with her record-setting 269th career strikeout in the first frame against Harvard (9-14, 2-2), she had other things on her mind.
“I was more excited about the win to be honest,” Borden said. “It’s cool but if we had lost and I had gotten the record, I would have been upset.”
The Quakers pulled off the sweep thanks to timely hitting aiding strong pitching.
In the opening game, Penn started out behind, as Borden yielded a two-run homer to third baseman Kasey Lange in the first inning. But junior Georgia Guttadauro changed the Quakers’ fortunes by swatting the first grand slam of her career in the third, giving Penn the lead for good.
In the second game, Penn leaped out in front with four runs in the first inning, more than enough for freshman pitcher Lauren Li, who tossed a complete game.
“The team came out and performed,” King said. “We hit well with runners in scoring position and our situational hitting was excellent.”
The tide would turn against the Big Green, though.
Against Dartmouth, Borden struggled, surrendering four runs on 11 hits. The Quakers’ offense fell flat as well, only mustering one run on four hits.
In the second game, Penn got back on track by scoring three runs early, and senior Lindsay Mann salvaged a split against the Big Green, pitching 5.2 innings of one-run ball.
“They outplayed us in the first game, there’s no doubt,” King said.
“You just got to tip your cap sometimes. They played better than we did, but I was proud of my team for coming back in the second game and playing a little bit better ball.”
Despite Borden usually occupying the pitching staff’s spotlight, Mann’s performance in the circle helped the squad when it needed it most.
“We want all of our players to be able to contribute at some point when their number is called, to be able to step up and do the job and Lindsay did a great job,” King said.
By taking three out of four, the Quakers have put themselves in good position in the Ivy standings with Yale up next.
“It was really important for us to come out strong because it sets the tone for the rest of the season,” Borden said.
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