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Junior pitcher Alexis Sargent tossed a gem in the first game of Penn's doubleheader on Wednesday. The ace allowed just one hit in five innings to send the Quakers on their way to a sweep of Saint Joe's. 

Credit: Ananya Chandra , Ananya Chandra

Maybe all they needed was just a little time away from the Ancient Eight.

In a brief interlude from Ivy League competition, Penn took both games of a doubleheader against Saint Joesph’s yesterday, defeating the Hawks by scores of 7-0 and 4-1.

The two games signified a returned to early season form for the Quakers (17-19, 3-9 Ivy), who have struggled recently in Ivy play. Much like earlier in the season, the theme of the day for the Red and Blue was pitching. Five Quakers combined to hold the Hawks (16-19) to just two runs on four hits scattered throughout the two games.

“It was really pleasing to see all five of them just play their role,” coach Leslie King said. “We had specific tasks, and it just went really well. All five of them came in and pitched to their spots and kept the ball down and did an exceptional job.”

The first game of the doubleheader started off as a pitchers’ duel between Penn’s ace junior Alexis Sargent and the Hawks' Ashley Ventura. Neither pitcher alloed a base runner for the first two and a half innings, mowing through the opposing lineups.

The Red and Blue broke through in the bottom of the third. Senior Korinne Raby led off the inning with a double to right field and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by junior Sydney Kranzmann. After a ground out, freshman Sam Pederson knocked Raby in with a single up the middle.

The Quakers cracked the game open in the fifth, scoring six runs to make it a 7-0 lead. The team capitalized on a Hawks’ error to score all of their runs with two outs. Highlights from the inning were a two-run double from Sargent and a two-run home run for sophomore Joyce Joyner.

Senior Lauren Li came on in place of Sargent in the sixth and fired two scoreless innings to secure the shutout. Sargent finished the day with one hit allowed and two strikeouts over five innings, improving her record to 9-7 on the year. The performance was a much needed return to form for the junior, as she has struggled in Ivy play recently.

“It really is a confidence booster to come back home, it has been awhile since we’ve gotten to play here and have a dominant performance. It really meant a lot to see everyone perform and really play at the top of our capabilities. We haven’t done that in a long time, and I think it’ll give us momentum heading into the weekend,” she said.

In the second half of the doubleheader, the Quakers’ pitching was the story yet again. Penn sophomore Mason Spichiger allowed a solo home run in the first inning, but settled down to pitch three innings of two-hit ball. Junior Courtney Cuzick and freshman Joy Lewis both tossed two perfect frames in relief, notching the win and save respectively.

The Red and Blue got on the board in the fourth, tying the game up at one. The squad capitalized on another two-out throwing error by the Hawks to push Li across the plate.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Quakers took a 4-1 lead that they would maintain for the rest of the game. After two infield singles and an error loaded the bases, junior Leah Allen ripped a double into left-center to plate two. Sargent added another run on a sacrifice fly.

The big innings that Penn had in these two games played key roles in their two victories, as they have throughout the season.

“Softball’s weird like that, sometimes you get those little momentum swings,” King said. “I thought we got a little bit of luck today, which I think has been missing at times in our games this year, and it was really nice to get some breaks. We had some mishits that since we’re speedy we were able to run them out. And we drove some balls too, which was nice.”

With just eight games left on the schedule, they will look to carry today’s success into the closing games of Ivy play, starting with a doubleheader on Saturday with Cornell. If they continue to catch a few breaks, they could find themselves back fighting atop the Ivy League's South Division.

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