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Junior pitcher Alexis Sargent has emerged as the ace of Penn softball's pitching staff.

Credit: Ananya Chandra , Ananya Chandra

Perfection is hard to achieve in sports. To be able to play an entire game without a single blemish is something that few athletes can claim to have done. But this past Saturday, Penn softball’s Alexis Sargent came pretty darn close to joining that elusive club.

In the first game of a doubleheader against Rider, Sargent, the Quakers’ newfound ace, came just one out short of completing the second no-hitter in program history while leading the Red and Blue to a 5-0 victory. Penn completed the sweep later in the day with a 12-4 win.

In perhaps the best outing of her career at Penn, Sargent continued her season-long dominance from the circle. The junior fanned 14 batters, a new career high, walked none and allowed only an infield hit en route to her eighth win and seventh complete game of the season. Sargent also lowered her earned run average to a miniscule 1.01.

“She pitched a phenomenal game, one of the finest I’ve seen her pitch,” coach Leslie King said. “She really attacked the strike zone and got ahead in the count. I was disappointed for her that we couldn’t come away with the last out, but it didn’t take away from her performance.”

The Quakers (11-7) jumped out early in the first game, capitalizing on sloppy defense from Rider (3-18) to put a run on the board in the first inning. Freshman Sam Pederson started the rally with a single up the middle and was eventually brought home on a dropped fly ball hit by Sargent.

Penn tacked on another run in the third inning, as freshman Sarah Cwiertnia drilled a two-out, RBI double to score sophomore Jurie Joyner. However, the squad put the game out of reach with a three run seventh, highlighted by a two-run dinger from junior Leah Allen and another RBI double from Cwiertnia.

While the first game was a comfortable win for the Red and Blue, the team had a little more trouble with Broncos in the second half of the doubleheader. Sophomore Mason Spichiger got roughed up on the mound, giving up four runs — three earned — in three and two-thirds innings of work. Senior Lauren Li, who relieved Spichiger in the fourth, allowed two of her inherited runners to score, but shut out the Broncs after that.

“We would like to see more consistency out of the other pitchers, it has been a bit of a mixed bag from them this year,” King said. “Some games it has been good, and others have been bad, but I’m confident that they’ll get better as we head down the stretch.”

While the Quakers hung around with Rider to keep the score close, again capitalizing on their opponent’s poor defense, the real offensive outburst came in the fifth inning when the team batted around and scored nine runs. Senior captain Kanani Datan and freshman Jessica England both contributed with RBI base knocks. The key to the offensive onslaught was Allen, who hit her second and third home runs of the day, driving in four runs.

“She’s a very important component to our lineup, and her getting hot at this time of the year is ideal,” King said. “I don’t see any reason why her performance wouldn’t carry through to Ivy play, she’s really been working hard to play to her potential.”

With conference play less than a week away for the Quakers, the sweep of Rider this weekend will provide them with the confidence and momentum that they need to start off on the right foot in the Ancient Eight.

After one last tune up in a doubleheader against Lehigh on Wednesday, Penn takes on Brown at home on Friday, kicking off a month long stretch of mostly Ivy play. Perhaps they can learn a lesson from Sargent on Saturday and strive for perfection.

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