The Quakers’ usual starters took a much-needed rest heading into a matchup with their 33rd Street rival Drexel.
Penn (21-15) did not score an earned run on the day but took advantage of three critical errors by the Dragons (12-29) to win 3-2.
Coach Leslie King’s squad went into Wednesday’s matchup having lost three consecutive midweek games. But Penn’s bats were hot enough to make sure that didn’t happen again.
Sophomore outfielder Sydney Turchin smacked a triple to the right outfield.
Senior shortstop Stephanie Caso then entered and hit directly to the circle. Dragons freshman pitcher Tara Konopka threw wide to first base and Caso made it to second while Turchin ran it in for a score.
In the bottom of the first, an unusual starting defensive squad took the field, consisting of nearly all freshmen and sophomores.
The starters watched as the future of Penn softball worked as a squad for the first time.
“This was a kind of game where [Coach] could try some things out,” freshman pitcher Lauren Li said. “[We want] non-starters to get comfortable playing for next year, get as many reps as possible.”
In addition to pitching, Li made an appearance at shortstop, a position she played in high school.
The second inning brought more fortune for the Quakers offense as sophomore second baseman Vanessa Weaver hit a single to get Penn started.
Then freshman outfielder Kanani Datan battled with Konopka, finally making it to first.
As Turchin cranked a single, Drexel’s infield committed another error to first, allowing Turchin to rack up a two-RBI single.
Then Penn felt the fire from the Dragons’ breath.
Li hit the first Drexel batter, putting the Dragons immediately into position to score.
Li and the Penn defense then surrendered two consecutive singles to the next two at-bats.
Drexel scored off a two-RBI double but the Quakers still maintained their 3-2 lead.
The rest of the matchup was a stalemate. Penn went through three pitching changes, concluding with senior pitcher Lindsay Mann earning her first save of the season. Sophomore pitcher Alexis Borden earned another win to bring her season record to 11-7.
The Quakers now have confidence in their starters and in their depth as they prepare to travel to Ithaca this weekend, when they will square off with Cornell.
Cornell may be 6-6 in the Ancient Eight and the worst team in the Ivy South division, but Penn recognizes that it’s anybody’s game.
“We know about Cornell’s all-turf field. This week we’ve been practicing hitting ground balls in the turf,” Li said. “After a few reps in warmups, we’ll come out strong.”
The Quakers are confident that they’ll take an even tighter grasp on the first-place spot in the Ivies.
“We are very confident,” Li said. “We’re going to play real hard, and I don’t think we’re gonna let up one bit.”
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