Penn softball needed a win — and desperately — after it got swept on the road by Harvard and Dartmouth last weekend.
Thanks to their stoppers, the Quakers got two.
Junior pitcher Alexis Borden tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout, and freshman Alexis Sargent nearly matched her, as the Red and Blue swept Brown in a doubleheader by scores of 8-0 and 5-2.
In game one, Penn (9-14, 4-3 Ivy) got ahead early, putting up two runs apiece in the first two innings. Senior catcher Elyssa Gorney singled in a run and Sargent had an RBI groundout in the first, while sophomore center fielder Kanani Datan smacked a two-run single in the second.
But it was Gorney who provided Penn’s biggest pop.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, the veteran smacked a double, knocking in three runs to give the Red and Blue a 7-0 lead on the Bears (2-22, 0-8).
“That kind of sealed the deal, put the nail in the coffin for sure,” coach Leslie King said.
Such a statement was especially true given Borden’s performance in the pitcher’s circle.
Penn’s ace struck out at least one batter in each inning she pitched, finishing with eight on the afternoon. Even more impressively, she held the three through seven spots in Brown’s lineup hitless.
“It was a good outing for Alexis, she pitched real well,” King said. “We scored lots of runs early, which helps. When you score in the first inning, it makes a big difference.”
For a while, it appeared as if game two would go the same way.
Penn built a 3-0 lead on Bears pitcher Gina Chieffallo in the first inning when junior left fielder Sydney Turchin scooted home after Brown catcher Alex Scott threw the ball away on a Gorney bunt and freshman left fielder Leah Allen hit a two-run double.
After senior third baseman Kayla Dahlerbruch and Datan added in RBI singles of their own, it was 5-0 Quakers after four innings.
Sargent was cruising in the early going, allowing only one ball out of the outfield and appearing in line to pick up a complete game two-hitter of her own.
“Early on, I felt they were being aggressive, which works in my favor,” she said. “My balls break late, and so with them being aggressive, that got us a lot of pop-ups and easy outs for my team, which really helped our defense out, I think.”
Things changed in the fifth inning, though.
After a Gorney error on a perfectly placed bunt by Brown’s Lauren Hanna loaded the bases with nobody out, Sargent nearly escaped the jam unscathed, but a two-out single from Christina Andrews plated two. Against the next batter, though, Sargent responded, inducing a harmless popout to end the inning.
“It was a little tough,” Sargent said. “It’s hard to walk into that situation, but I just really beared down — I’ve been in situations like that before and I know I have a great team that has my back.”
Brown would try to mount a rally one last time in the seventh inning, forcing Sargent out of the game after a single and double with two outs allowed the Bears to bring the tying run to the plate.
Freshman Courtney Cuzick would pick up the save in Sargent’s stead, getting Brown’s Trista Chavez to pop out to short after one run scored on a Gorney passed ball.
With the doubleheader victory, the Quakers can look ahead to Saturday’s date with Cornell and put last week’s struggles firmly in the past.
“[This sweep] was really important,” Sargent said. “We really wanted to come out and really show that’s not who we are.”
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