Penn softball took a resounding series win from Princeton this weekend and has set itself up nicely for the season’s end.
Facing their bitter rivals at home in doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday, the Quakers bested the Tigers in the weekend’s first three games before dropping the fourth and final game in a close loss. The three wins increased Penn’s lead in the Ivy League South Division over Princeton to two games.
“It was important for us to take the series, especially when you’re at home,” coach Leslie King said. “A split wouldn’t have done it for us, so to take three of four was a good weekend for us.”
The first game began with senior pitcher Alexis Borden in the circle for the Quakers (19-17, 10-6 Ivy). The Red and Blue ace did not disappoint, delivering a complete-game shutout, limiting the Tigers’ (15-22, 7-7) bats to a paltry three hits and only walking two while striking out five.
The Quakers backed Borden up by roughing up Princeton pitcher Shanna Christian for four runs in three innings on the back of sophomore outfielder Leah Allen, who hit a home run in the second inning and had an RBI groundout in the third inning. The squad never looked back, cruising to the 4-0 win.
Penn staked junior pitcher Lauren Li out to an early 1-0 lead in the day’s second game as Allen picked up where she left off, hitting an RBI double in the bottom of the first. The defending Ivy League Rookie of the Year later came around to score in a two-run third to put the Red and Blue up by three.
Li battled on the mound for four and one-third innings, surrendering five hits but managing to wriggle out of jams to keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the fourth, Li helped her own cause with a two-run home run to cap off the Quakers’ scoring for the day, as they prevailed, 5-1.
Junior captain second baseman Vanessa Weaver performed well over the weekend, picking up two hits and an RBI, as did freshman third baseman Hayley Metcalf, who also had two hits in two at bats. The latter came off the bench to fill in at third base for Li, who mans the hot corner when she’s not pitching.
“Hayley’s stepped up for us in Ivy League play,” King said. “She’s come in for us when Lauren Li has pitched. She’s slotted in for us at third base and done some good stuff for us at the plate as well.”
Borden also started Sunday’s first game for Penn and began shakily, giving up two runs in the first two innings. But freshman catcher Jurie Joyner doubled in the bottom of the first inning to bring the score to 2-1 and keep the game within reach for the Quakers.
The game remained that way until the bottom of the sixth when junior catcher Korinne Raby and Weaver delivered back-to-back RBI singles to give Penn a 4-2 lead. Borden finished the Tigers off in the top of the seventh for the come-from-behind victory and another complete game win.
The Quakers’ freshmen gave the team an early 2-0 lead, as Metcalf walked and scored and Joyner smacked an RBI single in the bottom of the third for her second timely hit of the day. However, the lead would not hold up.
Li — pitching again for the Quakers — gave up a three-run home run in the top of the fifth. The Tigers added two more in the sixth and one more in the seventh to pull ahead by two after scoring six unanswered runs. Despite putting runners on base in the bottom of the sixth and seventh, the Quakers were unable to score, falling 7-5.
While the Quakers try not to circle any games as more important than the other, it was hard for the team not to look forward to these four in particular.
“As a freshman, I didn’t know how big the rivalry was until I heard all the seniors talk about it,” Joyner said. “I just knew that this was something really special for us.
“To take three and take it right from under their feet was really awesome,” Joyner said. “It felt great.”
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