An extra-inning defeat followed by a run-rule loss. Friday and Saturday took on unfortunately similar appearances for Penn softball this weekend.
Playing back-to-back doubleheaders on the road against Dartmouth and Harvard, the Quakers fell to the Big Green twice on Friday, 4-1 and 12-1, before Harvard, 11-10 and 10-2.
Junior pitcher Alexis Sargent found herself in the circle for extra-inning games on back-to-back days, starting off the weekend for the Red and Blue (13-16, 2-6 Ivy) in Hanover.
It was a quiet affair for most of the day, as junior Korinne Raby’s home run to start the third inning was the game’s only run until the bottom of the sixth. Sargent powered through the first five innings, as the Ivy League’s strikeout leader fanned seven batters and gave up just two hits before Dartmouth (19-9, 8-0) knotted the game with an RBI single from freshman Morgan Martinelli.
Offense was hard to find for the Quakers on the day, and after seven innings, the contest remained tied at 1-1.
Headed to extra innings, the Red and Blue went down without hitting the ball out of the infield, logging three quiet grounders in the first half of the eighth.
It would be their last time at the plate.
After sophomore Laurlin Lara led things off for the Big Green with a triple, Sargent struck out senior Kelsey Miller to get the inning’s sole out. Martinelli was then intentionally walked to set up a potential game-saving double play, but a walk-off, three-run homer for junior Karen Chaw handed Penn its fourth extra-inning loss of the year.
"The gameplan was to get ahead and attack and dominate their batters," Sargent explained. "I was really proud of myself and my team with how we were able to limit their production and runs for the first seven innings. Unfortunately in the eighth inning, I let up one pitch that I wish I could get back."
There was still one more game to play on the day, and one team finally found its offense.
It wasn’t the Quakers.
Although Raby once again got the Red and Blue on the board first with an RBI single, Dartmouth quickly tied things up with an RBI single off of sophomore pitcher Mason Spichiger.
Things escalated in the fourth, with the Big Green getting 10 runs on 11 hits — three of them homers — and finishing off the five-inning, mercy rule-shortened contest in the top of the fifth after retiring the Quakers in order.
Heading to Cambridge on Saturday to try to salvage the weekend, Penn’s offense came briefly alive.
Although the Crimson (16-13, 6-2) notched a pair of runs off Sargent in the second, the Red and Blue responded with a five-spot in the fourth after loading the bases and stringing together a walk and three hits.
As would become a theme in the game, however, Harvard responded, scoring three in the bottom of the inning to tie things at four.
When the Quakers plated four more in the sixth, with RBI singles from junior Leah Allen and senior Lauren Li capped off by freshman Sarah Cwiertnia’s second RBI walk of the game.
Up 9-5 headed to the bottom of the sixth, Penn’s lead rapidly shrunk as Sargent ceded three more runs before forcing a pop up to get out of the jam.
A one-out, RBI single by Harvard’s Elizabeth Shively in the bottom of the seventh tied things up, however, forcing Sargent to pitch into extra innings for the second straight day.
After sophomore Jurie Joyner doubled to right, scoring Sargent, the Red and Blue looked firmly in control, up 10-9. But with one out and sophomore Maddy Kaplan on first for the Crimson in the bottom of the eighth, freshman Meagan Lantz hit a single to left that deflected off of sophomore Hayley Metcalf’s glove, allowing Kaplan to score and Lantz to advance to second.
Although Sargent struck out the next batter — her fourth of the day — junior Giana Panariello slapped a single to right, scoring Lantz and putting Penn on the wrong side of a walk-off for the second day in a row.
"We did a lot of good things, the cards just didn't fall in our favor this weekend," Sargent commented.
In the weekend’s final contest, Spichiger yielded four runs in the third and four more in the fourth before being pulled in favor of freshman Joy Lewis, who entered with an 8-2 deficit.
Lewis gave up two more runs — one of which was attributed to Spichiger — before escaping from the inning.
Down 10-2 in the fifth, King’s squad needed to score in order to avoid being run-ruled for the third time in four games. Although the Quakers logged back-to-back singles with two outs, Allen wasn’t able to plate them, popping out to short and capping off the four-game weekend sweep.
"I think we learned a lot, and I think we grew a lot.," Sargent said. "I really think that we can definitely leverage what we learned this weekend and hopefully dominate the South Division."
The Red and Blue have now dropped five straight for the first time this year. A midweek matchup against Drexel offers the chance for Penn to rebound before heading right back into Ivy play with four games against Princeton next weekend.
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