Penn softball took a small step back this weekend, and all room for error is gone moving forward.
The recent five-game winning streak that the Red and Blue were on came to a halt this weekend, as Penn was swept in a three-game series against Harvard that included a double header on Saturday.
Other than a late-game resurgence in game two that resulted in extra innings, Penn (12-18, 7-8 Ivy) was simply outplayed most of the weekend, losing the three games 9-1, 8-7, and 8-2 respectively. Game 2 was the Quakers ninth extra-innings loss of the season.
Last season, Harvard (19-12, 11-4 Ivy) and Penn split their season series. This weekend is very indicative of how the teams have trended since their last encounter, as the Crimson currently sit atop the Ivy League while the Quakers dropped to sixth in the standings after this weekend's performance.
“I thought that we were playing pretty good as a team before this weekend,” senior catcher Jurie Joyner said. “I think we were a little bit tired starting on Friday, and it kind of threw us off because of the weather. We had to come up here early, we had to reschedule tests. It was kind of crazy.”
The Quakers' biggest concern of the weekend came at the plate. Penn left a total of 25 base runners on base across the three games, including multiple bases-loaded efforts that resulted in back to back groundouts to end certain innings.
Much of this struggle came as a result of a dominant performance by Harvard’s Kathleen Duncan. Duncan, appearing on the mound in all three games, was very difficult for the Red and Blue to handle. In her three appearances, she recorded two wins as well as one save. Additionally, Duncan allowed zero earned runs in her total 14.2 innings pitched this weekend.
“It’s hard to say [what the big piece missing was]. I think they just played better than us, honestly,” Joyner said. “Playing loose and having fun - that’s when we’re the Penn that we know. I think coming up here and knowing what’s on the line, we played really tight, and that was a big factor that hurt us.”
Notable play for the Quakers came from senior third baseman Molly Oretsky, who went 5 for 7 on the weekend. Oretsky scored four runs and drove another in, accounting for fifty percent of the Quaker’s scoring.
Additionally, Joyner, who has a .322 batting average on the season, contributed with four hits of her own this series in 11 plate appearances.
“The second game actually, we had a really good chance when we came back and played like the Penn we know we can be,” Joyner said.
Despite a disappointing result this weekend, the Quakers are still barely in the running to win their first Ivy League title since 2013. With six Ivy games left, the team is three games out of the second-place spot necessary to qualify for the Ivy League Championship Series.
“I think going forward we really cherish every single game that we have left and hopefully the cards will fall in our favor," Joyner said. "We can go to the championship as long as we’re playing the Penn that we can be."
In order to do so, Penn will have to win most, if not all, of its remaining seven games this season. The next test on this journey will be a home game against Saint Joseph's University on Wednesday. The following weekend, Penn hosts Cornell (11-17, 6-5) in a huge opportunity to move up in the standings.
“I think St. Joe’s is a really good opportunity to prepare us for Cornell,” Joyner said. “No matter what, we want to finish this strong and we’re still in this. I know that every single girl on this team is here to win.”
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