Peaks and valleys? Try Mount Everest and the Grand Canyon.
Penn softball split a doubleheader with lowly nonconference Lafayette on Wednesday evening. After blowing a four-run lead in the final inning of game one, the Quakers rebounded in convincing fashion to take down the Leopards in game two, 10-4.
In the day’s first contest, the Red and Blue (12-10, 3-1 Ivy) rode five innings of one-run ball from sophomore righty Alexis Sargent and a home run from sophomore outfielder Leah Allen to a 5-1 lead going into the top of the seventh inning.
Then, the wheels came off. Lafayette (2-20) started running through the bases, generating plenty of the Quakers’ woes. Fueled by a barrage of Penn errors and five runs surrendered by sophomore reliever Courtney Cuzick, the Leopards scored eight runs in the top of the seventh. Lafayette freshman Stephanie Thomas then hurled her second consecutive perfect inning of relief to close out the game.
“We had a decent lead, and then we made three errors, basically back to back,” coach Leslie King said. “It was a poor effort, both pitching-wise and defensively.”
However, Penn rebounded quickly in the second game. The Red and Blue scored three runs in the first inning and never looked back.
“I think we’re very resilient. We’re fighters,” King said of the bounce-back win. “We’re satisfied with that second win, but we still know we have to be better.”
Allen followed up her home run with a 3-for-4, four RBI performance in the second game, including a long double off the fence in dead center field. Hitting just .246 coming into the day, Wednesday’s performance was a much-needed confidence boost for the sophomore.
“Sometimes I can get kind of down on myself,” Allen said, laughing. “[Days like Wednesday] let me know that I can still hit and I’m still doing well.”
A key moment came in the fifth inning, when Lafayette loaded the bases with one out and looked poised to reprise their earlier comeback. However, senior righty Alexis Borden induced a 1-2-3 double play to get Penn out of trouble.
“Getting out of a bases-loaded jam any time is key, and a double play is a pitcher’s best friend,” King said.
Next up, the Quakers travel this weekend to take on Brown and Yale.
The Red and Blue will kick off the four games when they travel to Providence Friday afternoon. The Bears (6-10, 1-3 Ivy) have struggled thus far this season and sit tied for Harvard for last place in the North division. However, freshman pitcher Katie Orona has been impressive in her rookie campaign, sporting a 1.97 ERA in just under 50 innings.
The following day, Penn will trek down Interstate 95 to take on similarly underwhelming Yale (4-9, 1-1 Ivy). The Elis have failed to hit a single home run as a team this year, but sophomore outfielder Camille Weisenbach has an impressive team-high .444 batting average.
Despite the lackluster profile of the upcoming opponents, King believes her team will have no trouble staying focused.
“Every team in the Ivy League is a challenge. Nobody is a cakewalk by any stretch,” King said.
“You can’t take anything for granted. You have to go out there and scrap and earn every victory that you get.”
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