Though the 2001 season has been a fairly disappointing one for the Penn softball team, the Quakers hoped to at least build some momentum for next year with a strong finish. But letting a 1-0 lead slip away in the seventh inning against Drexel on Monday may have proved an accurate reflection of Penn's season. On Monday afternoon at Warren Field, the Dragons (26-22) swept Penn (15-32, 3-11 Ivy League) by scores of 2-0 and 2-1 in the Quakers' season finale. The doubleheader was a rescheduled affair. The initial April 11 matchup was postponed due to rain. The second game was particularly stinging to the Quakers, who just could not shake their year-long habit of blowing late-game leads. "[Today] it was a story similar to many other games," said Penn coach Carol Kashow, who listed five or six other nearly identical instances just off the top of her head. Monday's nightcap followed the traditional pattern. Penn first got on the board in the bottom of the fourth inning when junior co-captain Clarisa Apostol lined a long double into right-center field to drive in first baseman Erica Miller. Neither team would score again until the seventh. Quakers freshman pitcher Nicki Borgstadt had been cruising right along, looking to put the finishing touches on her fourth shutout of the season before trouble hit in the game's final frame. With runners on second and third and one out, Borgstadt intentionally walked Drexel's Kristy Heyser to load the bases and set up a force out. But the strategy would not work in the Quakers' favor, as Dragons first baseman Rachel Levinson grounded a hard single up the middle to knock in the tying and go-ahead runs. "I kind of felt that as the game went on, I was getting a little bit tired," Borgstadt said. "But I had confidence that as long as I could get ground balls, I would have the defense behind me." The Red and Blue wouldn't go down in the bottom of the seventh without a fight, however. Danielle Landolt drew a walk to open the inning. Then, Miller, who went 3-3 in the second game, beautifully executed a slug bunt … la Tony Fernandez, as she blooped a soft liner over the drawn-in Drexel third baseman. Miller, after unsuccessful attempts at laying down a conventional bunt and now facing a 1-2 count, squared around early to fool the Dragon defense and then proceeded to single with a half-swing. "I think that at bat was very representative of Erica Miller. She finds a way to get the job done," Kashow said. "She's about as tough a ballplayer as a coach would want to see." Penn second baseman Jamie Pallas followed with a sacrifice bunt, but Apostol grounded out to third and outfielder Deb Kowalchuk grounded to first to end the game. The scenario typified what was one of the Quakers' most frustrating problems this season -- their inability to string hits together when necessary. "[The Drexel pitchers] were definitely very hittable," Apostol said. "We just spread our hits out instead of putting them back to back." Kashow agreed that hitting and clutch hitting can be two very distinct attributes of a team, and this season in particular highlighted that notion. "Our run production wasn't anywhere reflective of our hitting [this year], because our hitting was pretty good," she said. There is, however, quite a silver lining to Penn's season. The Quakers will not lose any players to graduation.Comments powered by Disqus
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