Despite a schedule full of daunting opponents, Penn softball’s fiercest competitor thus far in the 2013-2014 season has been the weather.
First, the Quakers’ home opener against St. Joe’s on March 3 was postponed because of heavy snowfall. Later, due to torrential downpours on Tuesday, Penn (4-7) was only able to squeeze in two innings against Lehigh.
Ironically, when the Red and Blue were finally able to catch some sun, they struggled, dropping four of five games at the UCF Spring Fling in Orlando, Fla., before splitting six contests at the USF Under Armour Showcase in Tampa.
The Red and Blue are hoping to catch a break from Mother Nature as they finally make up for opening day’s postponement in a doubleheader against St. Joe’s (13-12) on Sunday at Penn Park. If Penn can get through all 14 innings of play, it will be Penn’s first full doubleheader of the season at home.
According to coach Leslie King, the team spent most of its Florida training trip “[building up] the stamina that you need for a college Division I doubleheader . That’s something the freshmen have never experienced.”
That is especially pertinent this year, given that 10 of the team’s 21 players are from the class of 2017.
The games mark one of the last chances the Quakers will have to whip their game into shape before Ivy League play begins in earnest, as Ancient Eight doubleheaders begin on March 28. King expects the Hawks to be an adequate test for her squad.
“They are athletic, they pitch well, they field well, they hit well, they are coached well and that’s what we expect out of them every year,” she said.
In Penn’s last meeting with the Hawks, the Quakers fell 5-0 in a particularly rough afternoon . Star pitcher Alexis Borden picked up the loss despite striking out four batters and surrendering just one earned run in five innings. However, King is not discouraged by the path of history.
“If we could win one game against them or even sweep them, that would be a statement,” she said.
The Red and Blue certainly have the defensive talent to pull off such a win. Just consider Borden’s performance thus far: In just six games she has already racked up an impressive 49 strikeouts, not surprising given her status as the program’s all-time strikeouts leader.
King notes that Penn’s offense, on the other hand, is still a work in progress. “We just have to continue to develop good quality at bats. We need to have a plan when we go in the batters box.”
The Red and Blue have made a plan beyond the batters box as well, and that plan is to win.
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