Penn softball really can’t catch a break.
In a rollercoaster matchup between Big 5 rivals that saw three lead changes in the final three innings, the Quakers fell to Saint Joseph’s by the score of 5-4 on a two-run walk-off single. This loss is the fifth straight and six out of seven for the Red and Blue (15-17, 5-7 Ivy), who were recently swept in a four-game weekend set at home against Princeton.
The Quakers once again struggled with runners on base, scoring only four runs despite 11 hits. Penn went a measly 3-14 with runners in scoring position, whereas St. Joe’s (18-20, 9-3 Atlantic 10) had much more success, going 7-18. The inability to capitalize with runners on base was also crucial in Penn’s losses to Princeton, where they left a total of 30 runners on base across the four games.
Penn got the scoring started in the top of the third with a perfectly executed double-steal that saw senior Lainey Dorris swipe home and sophomore Jess England slide safely into second. The Hawks responded in the bottom of the frame with a run of their own via a pair of singles and a stolen base.
The Quakers took the lead again in the fifth, this time with a bases-loaded walk from senior Cedar Sloavacek, but could not capitalize further. The lead was short-lived once again, as St. Joe’s took its first lead of the game, scoring two runs in the bottom half after stringing together several hits.
Freshman Raven Houck gave Penn a 4-3 lead with a clutch two-run homer with two outs in the top of the sixth, the first of her career. And that’s what the score was heading into the bottom of the seventh, when everything fell apart.
With star pitcher Alexis Sargent in the circle, Penn had reason to feel confident heading into the final frame, but the Hawks led off the inning with two consecutive hits. Sargent retired the next batter, but let up a single to load the bases. After getting the second out on a strikeout, sophomore Amanda Kulp delivered the final blow, a single into left field that plated two.
Penn has little time to dwell on this letdown though, as the team will head up to Ithaca, N.Y., this weekend for an important four-game set against Cornell (9-21-1, 3-9). After last weekend, every Ivy game is a must-win for the Red and Blue, who trail Princeton by five games.
Luckily for the Quakers, their opponents are tied for the worst record in the Ivy League and have a league-worst 5.99 ERA. Unfortunately, Princeton also has a four-game set against the Big Red left on their schedule, making Penn’s postseason chances bleak.
So if the Quakers are to have any chance at postseason play, they need to turn recent trends around, and fast, or they’ll be left out of the Ivy League Championship Series for the second straight year.
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