Things are finally looking up for Penn softball.
After a rough start to the season, a dominant weekend from Penn softball proved that they are a force to be reckoned with in the Ivy League. The Quakers swept a weekend series against Yale, winning 7-2, 5-1, and 9-8.
Now, the Quakers (11-15, 7-5 Ivy) have a real shot at making the conference championship series, depending on how they fare next weekend against current conference leader Harvard.
Coming into the game with a losing conference record, Penn knew that the series against Yale (7-22, 4-8) would be crucial. Both teams had the same record, and risked falling out of contention with too many more losses.
“It’s really big for us, especially since we came into the season with the same record as Yale and the two teams with the best record in the Ivy League get to play in the championship, so this puts us in a really good spot especially knowing we’re going to play Harvard next week,” junior second baseman Sam Pederson said.
So, the Quakers did what they had to do. They won. And won. And won.
Penn took care of business handily on Friday, winning by a score of 7-2 and 5-1. While both teams got about an equal number of hits, the Elis struggled to convert any of their opportunities into runs.
Given the trouble Yale had with scoring on Friday, few would have predicted the first few innings of Saturday’s game. Yale came out swinging, putting up six runs before Penn was able to close the top of the inning. Although Penn only put one run up on the board and trailed going into the second inning, it was clear more was lurking under the surface from the Quakers.
“We had so much practice for this in Florida, we went to maybe seven extra innings games so we were kinda used to the pressure I guess, I think the main thing that we focus on is you have to score just one,” Pederson said. “As long as you bounce back from it, you know that you can score again.”
After holding the Elis to no runs in the top of the second, the Quakers got up to bat, and had the bases loaded when Pederson stepped up to the plate. Pederson smashed one deep to right center for a bases-clearing triple. This was just the spark the Penn offense needed, and they rallied to score eight runs in the bottom of the second.
“It’s insane, it's so fun,” Pederson said. “We get really excited a lot, but I've never seen a dugout that excited before, like up dancing, screaming, yelling.”
The Quakers held on to win the game, completing a weekend sweep of the Elis and catapulting them into third place in the conference. This means a lot is riding on next week’s matchup with the Crimson, as the top two teams in the Ivy League are the only to qualify for the Ivy championships.
“[Harvard]’s currently at the top of the Ivy League, so I think this puts us in like third place, so if we can take two from Harvard next week I think this puts us in a really good spot for the championship,” Pederson said.
If the Quakers can keep riding their current win streak – they’ve won four straight and seven of the last eight – they have a good shot at ending the season on top. And if this weekend is any indication, it should come as no surprise if Penn keeps right on rolling.