After a weekend road trip, Penn softball is looking forward to staying close to home.
In the midst of the Ivy League stretch run, the Red and Blue will face local rival Villanova at Penn Park on Wednesday. The Quakers (13-13) are coming off a tough weekend, one in which the team went 1-3 including a pair of one-run losses.
“It was a tough weekend for us, but it’s a wake-up call,” senior captain Sydney Turchin said. “It’s something that will help our team realize that nothing is going to get handed to us in this league.”
With five of their next six games on the road, the Quakers welcome the opportunity to play at home midweek.
“Just being at our home field, it’s a comfort level thing,” Turchin added. “You miss less class, but that just comes with the territory.”
The team has had a season full of long-winded home and road stretches. After the Quakers’ first two games were cancelled due to weather, Penn spent its first 11 games on the road in Florida, including its spring break trip. The Red and Blue followed that period with 12 straight games at home before leaving Philadelphia last weekend to travel to Providence and New Haven, Conn.
Meanwhile, Villanova (13-18) has played a somewhat similar schedule, traveling to Clearwater, Fla., for the same invitational tournament as Penn — though the teams never faced each other. Against the squads' common opponents this season, the Wildcats have gone 2-1, while the Quakers are 4-1.
Villanova last faced Penn in late April of last season and came away with a 4-0 victory in the final game of Penn’s regular season. Historically, the rivalry has been somewhat one-sided, as the Wildcats have the series edge at 40-21-2.
“I think we match up relatively well, they’ve got a well-funded big-time Division-I program. We’re able to compete with them on the field,” coach Leslie King said.
“If we were in the same conference, I’d like to think it’d be really competitive.”
A pair of hot-hitting underclassmen has led Villanova’s offense this year. Freshman shortstop Brittany Husk is the team leader in batting average (.344), runs (20) and home runs (three), while sophomore third baseman Lauren Herschberg has also put together an excellent campaign.
From the mound, the Wildcats boast a pair of excellent starting pitchers as sophomore Brette Lawrence and junior Kate Poppe — who have combined to start 27 of the team’s 31 games — both boast sub-3.00 earned run averages.
It’s unclear who will start on the mound for Penn, but King and her players see the value in getting players repetitions, whether hitting or pitching, to stay warm for this weekend’s games.
“The more we can see live pitching, the better. It keeps you in the right mindset,” Turchin said. “As long as you do things how you want to do them, you feel good going into the weekend.”
With a four-game series against Cornell on the weekend horizon, the Quakers will look to build momentum with a strong showing against their Big 5 rival.
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