Game one ended in a walk-off. Game two ended in a letdown. In the end, nothing could separate the two teams.
After 15 innings over two games, Penn softball split its doubleheader against Lafayette on Wednesday. The Quakers (6-6) struggled to score runs in both games, but the pitching staff was able to keep them in the first contest just enough to give senior first baseman Hannah Gibbons a chance to smack a long walk-off home run, giving the Red and Blue a 2-1 victory. The same could not be said for the second game, when timely hitting for the Leopards (2-10) lifted them over Penn by a score of 5-3.
The doubleheader began with a good old-fashioned pitcher’s duel. Senior Stacy Gordon pitched the entire game for the Leopards, with both of her earned runs coming on solo home runs. For the Quakers, sophomores Abigail Abramson and Tabitha Dyer split the eight innings, giving up a total of three hits. Dyer got off to a bit of a shaky start after giving up two walks in the first inning and a home run to freshman Erin Scott in the second, but the Leopards wouldn’t create anything offensively after that.
The Quakers were able to create significantly more chances to score, but they couldn’t push runners across home plate. The Red and Blue left the bases loaded in the first inning and left two runners on base in the second and third innings. Gibbons recognized that this has been a consistent issue for the Quakers.
“That’s been the story of the season so far. We had that issue in Florida as well. It’s just about having smart at-bats and starting with a plan when we get in the box,” Gibbons said.
Penn was able to level the score in the fifth inning when freshman outfielder Emma Nedley hit a two-out homer to end Gordon’s shutout bid. With neither team able to break the 1-1 deadlock, the game would head into extra innings. And with one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, Gibbons stepped up to the plate. With a favorable 3-1 count, the senior got a fastball and deposited it over the left-center field fence in Penn Park.
“Going into the at-bat it was more ‘make something happen, find a way to get on base’. I knew the pitcher. The pitcher was pretty nervous," Gibbons said. "I got my money pitch and took it long. It was a nice swing. It felt good.”
Coming off a dramatic win in their first home game of the season, the Red and Blue looked to use the victory as momentum going into the night game. However, this would not be the case. Penn continued to leave runners on base, and this time, Lafayette capitalized on its chances.
The Leopards were especially able to wreak havoc on freshman Julia Longo. After junior Jennifer Brann pitched a solid four innings, Longo came in to relieve her in the top of the fifth. In that inning, Longo gave up three hits and a walk, allowing Lafayette to extend the lead to 3-0.
The Red and Blue clawed their way back into the game, scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth in part due to two Lafayette errors. But Longo would continue to struggle to find the strike zone and get quick outs; the Leopards immediately regained their three-run lead in the top of the seventh inning.
“I tend to be very, very hard on myself, and that’s when things spiral,” Longo said. “I need to be a little more mentally tough and be able to sharpen the mental side of my game and focus in when it counts most.”
After going 5-5 in Clearwater, Fla. over spring break, the Quakers maintained their .500 record on Wednesday. The Red and Blue will look to capitalize on their opportunities to score runs more often as Ivy play looms. Penn will begin Ivy play against Yale on Saturday in New Haven, Conn.
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