Despite solid hitting, Penn softball ended up dropping two out of three games this weekend.
The Quakers made the trip up to New Haven, Conn. for a weekend of games against Yale. Starting with a doubleheader on Saturday, the Red and Blue ended up playing 20 innings against the Bulldogs. Although the Quakers outhit their opponents, they ended up with a lower scoring total, a recurring issue for the Red and Blue.
Penn lost its first game of the day on Saturday despite strong hitting from sophomore catcher Sarah Ketring. Even though Penn led Yale in hits with nine to the Elis' eight, the team was held scoreless. Yale, on the other hand, converted all eight of its hits into runs.
The game started well offensively for the Quakers. With a walk and a couple of singles, the Red and Blue had the bases loaded. However, this opportunity did not materialize, and the first inning ended after two quick outs.
Penn similarly had bases loaded in the third inning. As before, two swift outs took the Quakers off the bases before they had a chance to score. After some more unfruitful innings for the Red and Blue and a few more scores for Yale, the Bulldogs ended the game in the sixth with a solo home run to initiate the eight-run mercy rule.
Although Penn had strong hitting in the first game, the Red and Blue's pitching did not fare as well. The Quakers gave up five runs in the first two innings en route to a 8-0 defeat.
In the second game, strong pitching from sophomore Tabitha Dyer led the Quakers to victory. Her impressive performance, coupled with another game of strong hitting for the Red and Blue, led them to a 3-0 win.
Dyer was nearly flawless throughout the game. In her second shutout of the season, she allowed a mere two hits and retired six of the first seven batters she encountered.
Freshman Emma Nedley opened scoring for Quakers with a solo home run in the third inning. Coupled with a single in the fifth, she was able to score again and double the lead. Penn's last run was earned in the sixth inning with a strong right field single by Sarah Cwiertnia to bring fellow senior Sam Pederson home. Dyer then closed out the win with a quick, three-batter seventh inning.
“After the first game, especially after an 8-0 loss, it was tough, but we all got into the outfield where it was just us," Ketring said. "Some of our girls stepped up and basically said ‘Look, the game is over, it doesn’t matter, that one is behind us, let’s pretend like it didn’t even happen, we got it out of our system, let’s go get this next one.’ Being able to shut off everything that just happened and playing the next game like it is a brand new day is very important. “
On Sunday, the Quakers finished their last game of the series, losing by a close 6-4 margin.
Penn started strong, coming away with three runs in the first inning. The Bulldogs responded just as fiercely, also scoring three to tie the game. The Red and Blue again scored a run in the second, capitalizing off of a throwing error from Yale, but the Bulldogs quickly responded again, tying the game at four in the bottom of the second.
Although the Quakers were held scoreless for the remainder of the game, they had numerous opportunities. In the top of the third, the Red and Blue were able to get runners on second and third following a walk and a single by Nedley. However, a double play stopped Penn's hopes of scoring. Similarly, a trio of back-to-back walks in the fourth loaded the bases for the Quakers, but a strikeout and a double play squashed the run.
“We had a couple of base running mistakes this weekend," Ketring said. "Understanding the importance of base running in certain situations is very important, as it can be the difference between scoring runs or not. So learning what to do and how to run the bases in those situations is really important for our team.”
After the fourth inning, the game wrapped up quickly. The fifth, sixth, and seventh innings all consisted of three consecutive outs and no walks.
One issue for Penn in this game was pitching. Dyer, coming off of her shutout on Saturday, conceded eight hits and six runs. The final game marked her first loss as a starter this season, dropping her record to 4-1.
As the Red and Blue attempt to rebound off this loss, Ketring remarked that the team spirit is strong despite the defeats.
“I think our team spirit is phenomenal," she said. "I know that girls who are not necessarily getting all the playing time are on the fence every inning, cheering loud, supporting the girls on the field. If somebody maybe doesn’t have a good at-bat, those are the first girls to pick them up. Being able to have people who are constantly supporting the girls that are playing is extremely vital, and I would say that the spirit of this team is unlike any of the teams that I have been on before.”
The Quakers will next look for victories in a doubleheader against La Salle at home on Wednesday.