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Aided by a trademark strong offensive performance from senior outfielder Leah Allen, Penn softball salvaged a series split against Dartmouth to stay at .500 in Ivy play.

Credit: Bonnie Mendelson , Bonnie Mendelson, Bonnie Mendelson

Penn softball had a busy weekend with split doubleheaders against Harvard on Saturday and Dartmouth on Sunday, but its work is not yet done, as the Quakers will face Villanova on Tuesday evening.

Coming from behind against the Big Green in its second game last weekend, the squad ended the game with a ninth-inning walk-off to secure the victory. With that, Penn earned an 8-7 win over its Ivy League rival. Dartmouth had previously pulled off the first win against the Quakers, 8-5.

In game two, with the team down 6-5 and two outs in the seventh, Jurie Joyner hit a home run to bring the game into extra innings. This completely changed the game’s momentum as the Quakers (11-10, 2-2 Ivy) took back control of the game.

“We did really well at being resilient and we were definitely nervous going into our first Ivy weekend, so once we got the jitters out we really played how we could. It was a team effort,” Joyner said.

It truly was a team effort, with multiple players on the team coming up with big performances. Penn’s offense was led by Sarah Cwiertnia, Leah Allen, and Jess England. All three played a significant role, with Allen and England scoring four times each, and Cwiertnia raising her RBI total to 23 this season.

With the squad trailing behind Dartmouth (2-22-1, 1-3) in the second game of their doubleheader, Penn needed some leaders to step up and to turn the game around.

“There were so many contributions. Jessica England had one of the best days of her life, defensively and offensively. Sarah Cwiertnia has been on fire since the season started, and Sargent pitching,” Joyner said. “They’ve all been really consistent.”

Those key players along with the entire squad seized the opportunity that was presented after Joyner’s big move. With everyone’s heads and hearts in the same direction, there was no turning back, and the Red and Blue defeated Dartmouth 8-7 in the ninth inning.

While this win was an important way to end the weekend, the Quakers must look forward and use this past weekend’s games as a learning opportunity for the rest of their Ivy matchups that liwe ahead. Next weekend they will face Yale and Brown, and the weekend after that Princeton, with their final regular season game against Cornell.

“Moving forward we just need to play that way that we know how to play,” Joyner said. “There are some times where we get nervous, but I have so much confidence in this team. If we play the way we know how to, this is ours.”

The Red and Blue will carry over their momentum from the weekend as they look to defeat Villanova this Tuesday at Penn Park in a doubleheader against the Wildcats (16-12).

Another two-game set will provide the opportunity for the Red and Blue to sweep a series, a feat they have only accomplished against lesser foes, Lafayette and Rider.

However, one thing is evident about this team: the Quakers are gritty.

They already have three walk-off wins — courtesy of three different players — and show poise when they get down early, knowing they can score runs and come back. That toughness will help this team against the Wildcats, but also as they move deeper into conference play.

Villanova is led at the mound by Brette Lawrence, who owns a 2.75 ERA, a 11-7 record, and 101 strikeouts on the year. The Wildcats also hit for power — they have 17 home runs as a team — and are led by Nikki Alden, who is hitting a commanding .424 with seven home runs.

The contrast in style — Villanova’s power vs. the Red and Blue’s ability to manufacture runs — will make for a great match up.

Hopefully the Quakers can take advantage of their last home stand and build some momentum before hitting the road next weekend.

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