Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as the old saying goes, but Penn softball is surely wishing it counted in its sport after this weekends' pair of doubleheaders against arch-rival Princeton.
The Red and Blue (15-19, 3-9 Ivy) dropped three of their four games at Princeton against the Tigers (14-22, 7-5). The toughest part to deal with, though, was the way those games were lost.
The first game of the weekend was tight all the way through, and the teams were tied going into the bottom of the last inning. The momentum was with the hosts, however, and they won the nail-biter with a walk-off home run and a final score of 7-6.
There was one bright spot to the game. Junior Leah Allen nailed a home run to score Penn's 6th of the day, meaning her total of 24 career home runs ties the all-time record for the Red and Blue.
The following contest was much more one-sided. The Quakers got their revenge on their rivals with a confident performance in which the Tigers failed to score a single run. The final score was 4-0.
Moving into Sunday with one win and a tight loss, most would have imagined a similar pair of games to those the day before. The third matchup of the weekend followed suit — another heartbreaker won late on. Once more, Princeton won the it all in the last inning with a walk-off home run to finish the game 5-4.
The two teams broke from script at that point, though — the final game of the weekend was not pretty for the visitors.
Princeton were rampant in the back end of the second doubleheader. Punishing the Quakers, who were likely demoralized from the two tough last-minute losses, the Tigers ran up the score and ran off with the game, winning, 10-4.
It's bad news for Penn, who were hoping to get off to a good start to the Ivy South Division title race. They will now have to hope Princeton slips up in the coming weekends, while they will hope to win out themselves against other division opponents, Columbia and Cornell.
Up next though, the Quakers have one unrelated doubleheader matchup against Saint Joseph's on Wednesday night. With any luck, they can use the games to rebuild momentum leading up to the weekend's vital four game series with Cornell.
The ladies on the softball team will be walking a fine line, now — with little margin for error, any slip could see their title chances disappear.
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