Replacing program legends is never easy. Just ask Penn softball.
The Quakers had to replace all-time home run and RBI leader, Leah Allen, as well as the pitching and hitting prowess of Alexis Sargent. Add that on top of the fact that those two were the heart and soul of the squad, the Quakers had big shoes to fill.
Thankfully for the Red and Blue, though, they have responded.
In the batter’s box, Sam Pederson, Sarah Cwiertnia, Jurie Joyner and Lucy Yang have led the offensive attack.
Pederson has been on a tear this season. The senior has recorded a hit in 13 straight games, and leads the team in hits (27) and on-base percentage (.667).
Cwiertnia picked up right where she left off last season. The first baseman has batted .385 with 13 RBI, and a .481 slugging percentage.
Joyner only trails Pederson in hits with 23, and is second on the team in RBI (16) to go along with a .427 slugging percentage.
Yang has also provided a large amount of offense for the Red and Blue. Yang provides some pop in the Quakers’ lineup to compliment the likes of Cweirtnia and Joyner; she currently leads the team with 23 RBI and 5 home runs.
“Her bat has been a really huge impact for us,” junior captain Jess England said.
While Penn has arguably not missed Allen on offense, the loss of Sargent left a big hole in the pitching rotation.
However, the Red and Blue have navigated through the Ivy League even without Sargent.
Naturally, the obvious choice for the ace of the staff was Mason Spichiger. The senior was the most experienced pitcher on staff, and she has answered the bell this season. She has two complete games, including a complete game shutout, in nine starts so far this year.
In Ivy play, Spichiger has been particularly strong. She holds a 3-2 record, with a 2.50 earned run average and two saves. Behind Spichiger is a committee consisting of sophomore Jennifer Brann and freshmen Tabitha Dyer, Ciana Curran, and Abigail Abramson.
Collectively, that committee is 4-3 in Ivy play, but the younger group is trending in the right direction, combining to go 3-1 over their past four decisions.
Though the offense has still been strong and the pitching continues to improve, the Red and Blue needed leaders to step up after Allen and Sargent departed. The impact they had on the program over the past four years couldn’t be overlooked, on or off the field.
The Quakers have addressed that need too, in more ways than one.
Although their two captains, England and Hannah Gibbons are juniors, the role of leadership is spread out.
“The seniors are 100 percent leaders on this team, and still act as our guiding leaders,” Gibbons said. “But along the way it’s our job to carry all 23 [members] on the team.”
The leadership may fall solely on the captains' shoulders, but Gibbons particularly prides herself on being able to have meaningful conversations with every one of her teammates.
“[One of my qualities is] making sure that everyone is doing ok, mentally and physically, checking in to make sure we’re getting the most out of them and making sure they’re getting the most out of us,” Gibbons said.
According to Gibbons, England is very practical and logical, and they complement each other well as leaders.
“She always thinks of feasibility, like what’s the best way we can tackle a problem,” Gibbons said.
Despite losing Allen and Sargent, the Red and Blue have been able to fill the void those players left behind, and they are picking up the pace when it matters the most.