Talk about a big win at just the right time.
Following its first Ivy series win of the season, Penn softball kept the ball rolling Wednesday afternoon, taking down Villanova 5-3. The win marks the first for the Quakers (8-15, 4-5 Ivy) against the Wildcats (12-14-1) in six years.
The Red and Blue showed plenty of resilience, coming from behind two separate times. After giving up two runs in the bottom of the first, senior catcher Jurie Joyner tied it up in the third with a two-run double.
The tie didn’t hold for long, as the Wildcats tacked on another run in the bottom half of the inning. But Penn responded again, with an RBI triple from senior center fielder Katie Petroski and an RBI single from junior left fielder Jessica England giving the Quakers the lead for good.
But the Quakers’ biggest test came in the bottom of the sixth. Holding just a one-run lead, freshman pitcher Ciana Curran ran into trouble in the circle after walking the first two batters. Curran wasn’t fazed, however, and she recorded a big strikeout with runners on second and third and one out before getting a fly out to left to end the inning.
“Ciana did a really good job of staying calm and knowing that she had it, because she’s a good pitcher,” sophomore pitcher Jennifer Brann said. “So she came out there, struck some girls out, and Jess made a really good catch out in left field, which ended up saving a couple of runs.”
The Quakers seem be hitting their stride, having won three of their last four. And with a huge series against Yale (7-19, 4-5) coming this weekend, the team is looking to ride that wave of momentum.
“I think this is a huge win for us, we haven’t beaten this team in such a long time,” Brann said. “Just coming out of a good weekend last weekend, and coming out, showing them what we can do, and now going into Yale, I think this is a huge momentum shift for us.”
As it stands now, Penn and Yale are tied for fifth, but both are just two games back from first-place Harvard. If one team was to sweep all three games this weekend, they could jump up in the standings and position themselves well to fight for one of the two spots in the championship series.
In the Bulldogs, the Quakers will face a team that is strong in the circle but weak at the plate. Yale averages just 2.65 runs per game, the second-lowest mark in the Ivy League, and nearly two runs off the Quakers’ mark of 4.56 runs per game.
But the Elis’ strength is pitching — Yale boasts a team earned run average of 3.74, the second best in the Ivy League. Behind the stellar work of junior Terra Jerpbak and freshman Miranda Papes, runs are at a premium against Yale, and the series is setting up to be a clash of styles.
“I think we really just need to stay calm and know that we got it, because we play best when we’re having fun and stuff like that,” Brann said.
And if the Quakers can do just that, they’ll find themselves right in the thick of contention in the Ivy League.
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