This one hurts.
Penn softball entered this weekend’s four-game set with Princeton on the upswing, winners of four of their last five, and in prime striking distance, just one game back from the Tigers in the Ivy South Division.
But now, it’s all but over.
The Quakers dropped all four games to their Ivy rivals, and in doing so, saw their chances at winning the division and competing for the Ivy title vanish before their eyes. Penn dropped both Saturday games by the scores of 4-2 and 3-2, then fell on Sunday by the scores of a 4-2 and 12-8.
The Red and Blue (15-16, 5-7 Ivy) drop to five games behind Princeton (18-13, 10-2) with just four Ivy games remaining, meaning that they are eliminated from playoff contention for the second straight year.
“We can’t bow down,” senior centerfielder Leah Allen. “We can’t just let other people run over us.”
Day one of the weekend set saw two disappointing losses for Penn as there were ample opportunities for the Quakers to pull even with their foes. The squad left a combined 15 runners on base across the two games and had multiple runners on base in the final inning of both contests. Errors also cost Penn dearly, as all three runs given up in the second game were unearned.
“I think we put too much pressure on ourselves,” Allen said. “With runners on, especially in those situations, it’s their backs against the wall, not us. We put too much pressure on ourselves when it should be on them.”
Game three saw more offensive struggles for the Quakers, as they only scratched across two runs on six hits. Once again, the team put the tying runners on in the last inning of the first game and failed to capitalize.
While the first three games might have been pitchers’ duels with a few big hits interspersed, the final game was an offensive slugfest, as the bats came alive for both sides. The Red and Blue struck first in the bottom of the first frame with a three-run blast from senior centerfielder Leah Allen. Still, the Quakers didn’t fully capitalize, leaving the bases loaded.
It didn’t take long for the Tigers to respond, as they combined for two home runs to tie the game in the top of the second. But while Penn came right back with three more of their own in the bottom half of the inning, the Tigers kept piling on, with a huge six-run third that saw them take the lead for good.
The lone bright spot from the weekend was Allen’s offensive explosion. With a three home run, seven RBI performance on Sunday, the senior moved within one RBI of the program record.
“I just felt like I was seeing it well and things were finally coming together, and I took everything from the cages on to the field and it just worked out,” Allen said.
So while this weekend will sting for the next few days, the Quakers still have some work left to do this year. With five more games left on the schedule, Penn will look to end the year on a high note.