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Credit: Alec Druggan

Finish strong.

That’s what Penn softball hoped to do on Sunday at Penn Park in the third and final game of its series against Columbia, and the team succeeded.

After dropping both legs of a Saturday doubleheader in extra innings, the Quakers desperately needed to get off to a hot start in the afternoon contest. They did just that, taking a 6-0 lead after two innings and never looking back. The team went on to defeat Columbia, 8-5, in a game that never felt that close.

Penn’s win was highlighted by the performances of two freshmen, infielder Lucy Yang and pitcher Abigail Abramson.

Yang provided the Quakers (3-12, 1-2 Ivy) with an early offensive spark, hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the first to give the team a quick lead. Abramson shut down the Lions’ offensive effort early on, opening the game with four scoreless innings. While Columbia (7-11, 2-1) tried to make a late rally, it was unsuccessful, as Penn was able to finish off the contest for a three-run victory.

Yang thought that this strong closing effort was especially key.

“I think it’s a huge win for us. We really shut it down in the last inning, and that’s a big deal for us because we’ve been struggling with that,” she said. “It’s a huge step forward for our team.”

This was especially true after Saturday’s performance, when the Quakers lost two late multiple-run leads to Columbia on the way to extra inning losses. The Red and Blue fell 8-6 in the first game, then 9-7 in the second, with both losses coming in eight innings.

“Obviously yesterday wasn’t the result that we wanted, but today the team really pulled together,” Abramson said. “We really gave it everything we had in the win.”

Junior infielder Sarah Cwiertnia and freshman outfielder Kayla Ketring also contributed heavily to the winning effort, each providing three hits and one run batted in.

“I think everybody just really focused on fighting the whole time,” Abramson said. “We really just lit a fire, and we just wanted it.”

The Red and Blue have another busy week of softball ahead of them. They will play La Salle in a Philadelphia away game on Wednesday before returning home to Penn Park for a three-game weekend series against Ivy League foe Dartmouth.

The Quakers hope that Sunday’s victory will help turn around their season, which started poorly with losses in 12 of their first 14 games.

“We’re just going to keep doing what we do — work hard every day at practice and keep every situation game-like even when we’re just warming up and practicing,” Abramson said.

Next week’s games might give Penn an opportunity for some more wins, as both of its upcoming opponents have losing records this season. Yang has high hopes for the team’s immediate future.

“I think we’ve got to keep it simple and just keep going and get after it,” she said.

And keep going is what the Quakers hope to do, using the momentum from Sunday’s win as a sign of things to come.