Too little, too late. That’s the takeaway for Penn softball after a desperation seventh-inning rally was cut short by Saint Joseph’s by a score of 10-6.
The Quakers (12-19, 7-8 Ivy) were looking to turn things around in this mid-week battle after falling victim to a Harvard sweep this past weekend. The visiting Hawks (15-22, 2-7 Atlantic 10) were thinking similarly, having just dropped three to Dayton at home. With high energy for both sides, Wednesday’s matchup at Penn Park was sure to be a slugfest.
After a quiet first inning, the visitors jumped on top with an RBI double. Penn didn’t wait long to respond, with junior Sam Pederson knocking in two in the bottom of the inning.
The momentum swung back in St. Joes’ favor after a third-inning barrage of four runs forced Penn freshman Tabitha Dyer to replace her classmate Ciana Curran in the circle. Dyer stuck to her task and fanned three batters in an impressive six-strikeout day.
Getting the Quakers back in the game, senior Jurie Joyner took matters into her own hands and sent a two-run bomb out to left, cutting the deficit to one. Her third of the season, that longball brings her up to 19 career homeruns, good enough for fourth all-time in the program. In that same swing, Joyner grabbed sixth place for herself on the all-time RBI list, only four off the fifth-place spot of 102.
Despite the boost, things begin to unravel in the fourth, with two throwing errors allowing the Hawks to extend their lead to 8-4. The Red and Blue were putting the ball in play themselves, but three double-plays in three straight innings kept them off the scoreboard through the end of the sixth inning.
After giving up another pair, the home team now looked to get out of a six-run hole with its remaining three outs. But despite racking up two walks, two singles and an RBI sac fly, the Quakers' comeback fell short, as their losing streak continues.
With seven games in seven days, Pederson explains that it can be tough to stay sharp, especially transitioning between Ivy and non-conference matchups.
“Historically, Wendesday games have not been the greatest for us. We’ve done pretty well this year, but it’s hard to change your mentality from an Ivy game to a midweek game,” she said. “We’ve come out really strong almost every Ivy League weekend, and those games are always different. We know how to turn it on right before.”
Echoing those sentiments was Joyner, who added that the academic demands exacerbate this tough stretch of the season.
“It’s been harder now at the end of the year because we’re all worried about exams and projects. People hate us in our groups because we always have games and can’t meet,” Joyner said. “But that’s just part of our experience here at Penn and competing in the Ivy League; it’s what we signed up for. The last two weeks of the season is when you’re really tested and it shows what kind of person you really are.”
In discussing her slugging accomplishment, Joyner humbly accepted the accolade while looking to close on former teammate Leah Allen's school record of 33 career dingers.
“To be honest, I don’t really keep track of the stats until after the year. And I’ve never really considered myself a homerun hitter,” she said. “I consider myself someone who hits the ball where my team needs it, when my team needs me to. I was on the same team with Leah [Allen] for three years, so being mentioned in the same category as her is awesome, and I feel honored."
With a crucial three-game series against Cornell this weekend, the Quakers will need get their nerves settled in the face of these recent defeats. Pederson, who recorded her seventh multi-hit day of the season, mentioned that the team was looking to keep things simple as overthinking cost them dearly in Cambridge. Joyner believes her squad can shake this one off and double down for Saturday’s big doubleheader.
“It would have been nice to get it together for our midweek game and go in nice and strong to Cornell, but it’s gonna take a couple days to clear our minds and really focus on the task at hand,” she said. “We’ll be focused again going in to Cornell.”
When the Big Red (11-18, 6-6) come to Philly, Penn will need to come out swinging and prove its worth to remain a contender in the Ivy League.