It wasn’t exactly an easy weekend, but Penn softball found a way to get the job done.
The Red and Blue claimed three of their four weekend games against Cornell, winning in comeback fashion in their final game on Sunday to keep pace with the rest of the Ivy League South Division.
In the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, the Quakers (16-15, 7-5 Ivy) provided senior starting pitcher Alexis Borden with plenty of run support, as the team jumped out to a three-run lead early in the first inning. Borden allowed only two earned runs in five innings of work, and became just the sixth pitcher in Ivy League history to record their 600th career strikeout, doing so in the second inning.
An extra run in the fourth followed by eight runs in the fifth helped seal the quick 12-2 victory for the Quakers.
Penn once again scored three runs in the opening inning of Saturday’s second game, this time thanks to senior Sydney Turchin’s steal of home and freshman Jurie Joyner’s two-run home run. In the bottom of the frame, Cornell (9-18, 3-9) answered with three runs of its own, in part due to two errors committed by the Red and Blue.
Despite giving up the three early runs, sophomore pitcher Alexis Sargent stranded three Big Red runners in scoring position throughout the afternoon, while the Quakers took the lead back again in the top of the second off of a run batted in by Turchin. Although Cornell tied the game once again in the bottom of the inning, two runs in the fourth and a two-run single by junior Korinne Raby in the fifth were enough to see the Quakers through to an 8-4 victory.
“Especially on the road, every single game is important and I was pleased to see the team fight back, even when we had some mental lapses,” coach Leslie King said. “Taking at least three of four games is always important, and I was pleased to see how well we were performing early on.”
Errors were the story of the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader and, unfortunately for the Quakers, the team recorded the same number of errors as hits in its 6-2 loss. Cornell scored five runs — three of which were unearned — in the first two innings and never looked back.
A solo home run by junior Lauren Li and an RBI groundout by junior Kanani Datan weren’t enough for the Quakers to overcome their five errors.
“We weren’t communicating nearly as well as we should have in the game, and I think we were definitely back on our heels a little bit, waiting for [each] other to make a play,” King said. “We just weren’t aggressive enough and that’s very uncharacteristic of us.
"[But] I think it’s something that we corrected very quickly in the next game.”
In the final contest of the weekend, the Big Red jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, before the Quakers retook the lead in the top of the third off of a two-run triple by Li. Penn extended it to 3-1 an inning later off a triple by Datan.
The Quakers lead would be short-lived, however, as Cornell put up five runs in the bottom of the fifth against Borden, leaving Penn trailing for the second time. But it was Li who once again answered for the Red and Blue’s offense, singling with two outs in the top of the sixth to drive in two more runs, cutting the margin to 6-5.
Joyner then erased the deficit completely with her second two-run home run of the weekend, putting the Quakers back on top, 7-6. After coming into pitch with two outs in the fifth inning, Li allowed Cornell just one hit in the final two and one-third innings, securing the Quakers third victory of the weekend.
“I think the whole team responded really well mentally to the early game, and I think we showed how tough we can be as a team,” Li said. “It was so crucial to take three of these four games because of how tough the competition is in the South Division, but I think we showed that we are mentally tough enough to go out and compete against any team on any day.”
The team gets right back to work with a midweek game against Drexel on Wednesday, followed by a crucial divisional four-game set against Princeton at home next weekend.
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