It’s pretty simple for Penn softball.
With three series remaining in the 2014 regular season, the Quakers know that if they win all three, they will be back in the Ivy Championship game.
Penn (9-14, 4-3 Ivy) will begin the first of its series against the Ivy League’s South Division this weekend when it welcomes Cornell (12-16, 4-2) to Penn Park for a four-game series over the course of Saturday and Sunday.
The Red and Blue come into this series with the Big Red, having taken two home games against last-place Brown on Wednesday, games that were must-win contests for the Quakers.
Strong outings by pitchers Alexis Borden and Alexis Sargent helped the Quakers right the ship after suffering three defeats at the hands of Dartmouth and Harvard up in New England last weekend.
“I think that our games against Brown just showed how well we respond to adversity,” senior Elysse Gorney said. “It was nice to get the bats going and hitting some long balls, and hopefully that is something we can carry over into this weekend.”
This weekend will also be the first four-game series that Penn has played this year. However, the Quakers believe they are well suited for the challenges that a weekend like this presents.
“I think this is where having a deep pitching staff comes into play,” coach Leslie King said. “We have one of the best, but also one of the deepest rotations in the conference.
“That gives us the ability to show different looks and gives us a lot of versatility which really plays a huge role in a four game series.”
“A lot of it has to do with mental toughness at this point,” Gorney added. “When you are playing a team four games in a row, you are going to see the same hitters, the same pitcher, and I think the team that stays dialed in and mentally tough for the whole series usually comes out on top.”
This weekend’s matchup between the two Ivy squads should make for an interesting series, as Penn and Cornell have remarkably similar resumes.
Both sides have swept Yale and Brown, while each has also dropped two games against Dartmouth. Much like Penn, Cornell has relied on strong pitching all year, as senior Alyson Onyon and sophomore Meg Parker both have five wins and both have top five wins and top five league strikeout totals.
The Quakers will also try to make use of their home- field advantage for one of the last times this season, as Penn will be on the road for much of the rest of the season.
The Red and Blue have been significantly stronger on their home diamond this year, going 5-4. But Penn has failed to win a road game this season, having dropped five consecutive away games to start the year.
“Penn Park has been good to us this season,” King said. “We know it really well, so the hope is we can take full advantage of our surface and get as many wins out of it as we can.”
If Penn wants to make a run at a second consecutive Ivy Championship, then the Quakers will have to make a statement by winning this series in order to be in contention in a tight divisional race.
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