The following things happened to Penn softball this weekend:
They went to extra innings. They got run-ruled. They enjoyed a walk-off win. And star pitcher Alexis Sargent looked very, very human.
But once the dust settled, the result was anything but dramatic. The Red and Blue split a pair of doubleheaders versus Brown and Yale to get off to a blase .500 start to Ivy play.
“We stuck at in that second game after getting our butts spanked in the first one,” Penn coach Leslie King said following the Saturday contests versus the Bulldogs. “In this sport, you have to be resilient and persevere.”
The Quakers (13-11, 2-2 Ivy) kicked off play versus Brown (13-10, 2-2) on Friday. Sargent — bringing a miniscule 0.93 earned run average into the weekend — pitched well for the first seven innings, sending the game into extras locked in a 1-1 tie. However, things fell apart in the top of the eighth, as Brown third baseman Christina Andrews launched a three-run homer to break the game open in an eventual 5-1 win.
In the day’s second contest, Lauren Li and Mason Spichiger combined on a five-hit shutout, April fooling the Bears’ bats while the offense managed to scrape together a pair of runs batted in from Li and sophomore catcher Jurie Joyner.
Sunday’s first game was undoubtedly the low point of the weekend for the Quakers, as Yale (9-17, 2-2) scored early and often in a 9-0 five-inning, mercy-rule victory. In a strange twist of fate, Penn lost both games started by Sargent, the three-time defending Ivy pitcher of the week. Though her season ERA managed to nearly double during the weekend, the junior still leads the conference with a 1.68 mark.
“It’s hard to maintain the kind of form that she’s had,” King said. “She had a little bit of a rough weekend, but I expect her to bounce back.”
If Saturday’s first game was rock bottom for Penn, then the nightcap was just the opposite. After a seven-hit, five-run third for the Quakers, the game went to the bottom of the seventh tied, 5-5.
After freshman infielder Sam Pederson and senior outfielder Kanani Datan led off the frame with singles, a sacrifice bunt from Li moved them into scoring position. Junior standout Leah Allen then knocked a sharp grounder to second baseman Laina Do, who threw wildly to the plate while Pederson slid in with the winning run.
“We have a play where if we have runners on second and third, they’re going on contact,” King said. “It makes it hard to make that play at the plate. Sam made a good hard slide, and we got a break for a change.”
After going the distance in the victory, Spichiger picked up her second win of the weekend.
Though the weekend split was not the ideal outcome for the Quakers, not many Ivy teams, especially those in the South Division, have managed to distance themselves from the pack in the season’s early going.
“The parity in the league is very high right now,” King said, noting that both Brown and Yale have improved dramatically from poor showings in 2015. “There’s [series] splits all over the place ... to get a split is almost expected right now. I’m happy with it.”
The Red and Blue will next be in action on Tuesday, as they will head to Villanova — a campus which will possibly be reveling in a men’s basketball championship.
As this weekend showed, the Quakers seem to enjoy winning — and losing — in dramatic fashion.
And assuming that this weekend was merely an aberration for the typically stellar Sargent, there’s reason to believe that they’ll be doing far more of the former.
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.