softball

Sophomore Leah Allen smacked her second homer of the season in Penn's win over Dartmouth on Friday afternoon

Photo: Michele Ozer

Not a bad way to start things off.

Penn softball took three of four Ivy League games over the weekend, splitting with defending league champion Dartmouth on Friday and sweeping Harvard on Sunday. After finishing 13-6-1 in conference last season, the Quakers opened Ivy play in excellent fashion thanks to strong weekends from junior Lauren Li and freshman Jurie Joyner.

In the first game against the Big Green (10-13, 3-1 Ivy), Penn fell 3-2, as Dartmouth starter Kristen Rumley pitched 5.1 effective innings, holding the Quakers to only 6 hits and 2 runs.

Later on Friday, the Quakers saw sophomore Leah Allen hit her second homer of the season en route to a 5-4 victory. In the circle, Li tossed six innings of three-run ball, surrendering only seven hits while notching five strikeouts.

Dartmouth’s Katie McEachern led off the seventh inning with a homer off Borden, who was in for the save. However, Borden recovered, forcing a groundout followed by two strikeouts to close out the victory.

The Red and Blue struck early and often in the first half of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Crimson (8-15, 1-3), striking for four runs on four hits and a walk to knock out Harvard starter Laura Ricciardone after only one inning.

Taylor Cabe relieved Ricciardone in the bottom of the second and held the Quakers scoreless for two innings before Penn (11-9, 3-1) exploded for five additional runs in the fourth.

Senior Alexis Borden, who pitched in all four games this weekend, excelled in the circle, going all seven innings against the Crimson, spreading out 10 hits and allowing only one earned run to go along with eight punchouts.

At the plate, the top of the Quakers’ lineup — senior left fielder Sydney Turchin, junior center fielder Kanani Datan, Li and designated player Leah Allen — all scored two runs. Joyner went 2-for-4 with two doubles and four RBI, while Li went 3-for-3 in the game.

The Red and Blue plated three runs on a Joyner home run and forcing starter RHP Morgan Groom out in the second inning. In came Ricciardone, who quieted the Red and Blue through the fourth inning while the Crimson offense built a 6-4 lead.

The Quakers stared down a 10-4 deficit in the bottom of the fifth, before taking the lead with seven runs in the inning, capitalizing upon two errors from Harvard shortstop Emily Gusse and another from center fielder Maddy Kaplan.

Penn loaded the bases with no outs for senior second baseman Vanessa Weaver, who singled. Li, who came up with three on and one out, smacked a pitch deep down the left field that would have been a go-ahead grand slam, but was called foul. However, she proceeded to drive in three with a double into the right-center alley.

A whopping six lead changes occurred from the fifth inning onwards, as the teams combined for 19 runs in the fifth through eighth innings.

Li added a home run in the bottom of the sixth to drive in Turchin, and Joyner started a seventh-inning rally with a double to right field. The Quakers went on to tie the score at 14 in that inning with Joyner crossing the plate after Cabe hit a batter and walked two more with two outs in the frame.

Borden held Harvard scoreless in the top of the 8th, setting up Weaver’s game-winning bloop hit to first base in the bottom of the inning.

The Quakers will play Lafayette in a doubleheader at Penn Park on Wednesday before resuming Ivy play next weekend at Brown and Yale.

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