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Softball v Syracuse, Mikenzie Voves Credit: Pete Lodato , Pete Lodato

Last season, the Penn softball team’s trip to Brown and Yale tarnished an otherwise successful Ivy campaign. Without those doubleheaders, the Quakers would have finished 9-6 in the Ivy League. However, back-to-back sweeps against the Bulldogs and Bears dropped Penn below .500 in conference play to 9-10.

But this year the tables are turned on Yale and Brown, as the struggling teams will meet Penn’s new arsenal of freshman talent on Friday and Saturday, respectively, at Penn Park in the Quakers’ Ivy League opener.

Two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week Alexis Borden has anchored the Penn pitching staff with a 9-2 recor, 1.18 ERA and nine complete games in 10 starts.

On offense, freshman lead-off hitter Sydney Turchin is tied for the most hits in the Ivy League with 24, and fellow rookie Karina Rios has also helped boost Penn’s offense with a .295 average, including a team-leading four doubles.

Momentum is heavily in Penn’s favor this weekend. The Red and Blue (15-10) are fresh off a beatdown of La Salle in a doubleheader on Wednesday and a 3-1 performance in the Penn Spring Invitational last weekend. Furthermore, unlike last season, Penn will have the benefit of home field advantage.

Meanwhile, Penn’s opponents are both sputtering. The Elis are 3-7 in their last 10 games and Brown is just 2-8.

Although the Bears (3-11) lead the Ivy League in batting average at .264, they are also last among the Ancient Eight in ERA at an abysmal 6.56.

Penn’s pitching staff will face the league’s most formidable hitter in the Bears’ Stephanie Thompson, who leads the Ivies in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage.

Thompson earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors for her performance last weekend in the University of California-Riverside Tournament, as she batted .667, scoring four runs and knocking in five.

In a stark contrast to Brown, Yale (6-12) ranks last in the league in batting average and has a middle of the road pitching staff. However, the Bulldogs’ bats have recently heated up, as they are hitting .303 in their last three games. Nevertheless, Penn’s dynamic pitching duo of Borden and sophomore Mikenzie Voves should have the upperhand.

The beginning of Ivy play this weekend marks a transition where every game is meaningful.

“We’re starting to hit the ball a little better. Our pitching continues to be very strong,” coach Leslie King said. “We feel very confident going into the weekend.”

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