Softball isn’t always considered a banner sport. It doesn’t draw the same massive crowds that come for football and basketball.
Especially in the Ivy League, softball doesn’t draw the same amount of fan attention as teams in other conferences, such as Oklahoma and Alabama.
But the Quakers have shown this year that they are no ordinary Ivy team.
The Red and Blue have undergone a renaissance this season since its first game at Penn Park, is on a run that has made it a must-watch going forward.
The Quakers (20-15, 10-2 Ivy) have dominated the Ancient Eight this season, crushing records and making history in the process.
Upon the Quakers’ return to Penn Park, sophomore pitcher Alexis Borden continued her habit of intimidating batters every time she steps into the circle. She etched her name in the school record books this season with the most career strikeouts — 315 — and most career wins of any Quaker, with 34.
Borden also currently holds the second lowest ERA in the Ivy League with a 2.10 mark, only behind Dartmouth pitcher Kristen Rumley’s 1.53. Oh, and let’s not forget — Borden is only a sophomore.
The reigning Ivy Rookie of the Year has been solid for Penn all season and continues to help Penn strike fear into the hearts of its Ivy League opponents.
However, Borden is not the only one to break all-time career records. In her four years, outfielder Brooke Coloma has shown the Ivy League what a menace she is at the plate. Ranked as the 33rd most difficult player to strike out in the nation, the senior broke the all-time school record for career RBIs (previously 108) with 112. Additionally, she and sophomore Sydney Turchin are ranked third and fourth in the Ivy League in steals, respectively.
Sure, these statistics say something about the quality of players individually, but what about the team overall? How does it stand in the national spotlight?
The Quakers hold an impressive accolade, ranking No. 35 in the country in fielding percentage. The next closest team in the Ancient Eight is more than 20 spots away.
These statistical achievements are indeed impressive and speak to the exciting squad Penn has assembled. But the real achievements have come in the history this team has made this season.
Earlier in the year, the Quakers took two games from the then-No. 29 Lehigh, a feat head coach Leslie King has never done in her 10-year tenure. The Red and Blue swept all of their Patriot League opponents in a single season for the first time since 1993 after taking down both Lafayette and Holy Cross.
Defensively, this Quakers squad has a strong foundation of senior leadership. This group has led its younger teammates with stern determination and laughter throughout. The team’s maturity, from its most tested seniors to its youngest freshmen, have stepped in at critical junctures during the season, a quality that is difficult to find in any team.
Now, the Quakers are looking to take down Cornell on the road this weekend. Despite the team’s statistical success, Penn has managed to drop games in the middle of the week on a regular basis, and for the most part, these losses have been blowouts.
Moving forward, to keep up this winning culture, King and the rest of her seniors need to buckle down for the long haul and not allow parasites such as a lack of hitting and sloppy on-base execution to infect their game as it did in Florida earlier this season and their recent non-league losses.
Penn has shown exactly where it stands in the Ivy league — and arguably on a grander scale — by dominating opponents in almost any situation.
This momentum that the Quakers have gained is coming together at the right time in the right position. This is something the Red and Blue will not easily relinquish as they head into the regular season’s final stretch.
JIMMY LENGYEL is a College freshman from Pensacola, Fla. He can be reached at dpsports@theDP.com.
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