Being on the road against first-place Columbia presented a big challenge in the Big Apple for Penn softball.
Needing to win the series and perhaps sweep to reach the postseason, the Red and Blue proved that they were up for the challenge. Each game of the series was decided by one run, and with a few more plays going their way, the results might have swung in the Red and Blue’s favor. But by the end of the series, Penn lost two of three against Columbia.
Despite late heroics and some strong performances, the Quakers (22-17, 13-8 Ivy) dropped the rubber match of their series against the Lions (22-18, 13-5) on Sunday. Although losing the series hurts their postseason odds, the Red and Blue still have a chance to make the Ivy League Championship Series. If Harvard loses all three games next weekend and Princeton drops at least one, the Quakers will still find themselves in the championship.
In game one of the series, the Lions defeated the Quakers, 6-5, in a game that was greatly affected by the weather. A steady and stiff breeze blowing in from right field wreaked havoc for both defenses, causing five combined errors from the two teams. Columbia’s six runs were scored on only four hits.
The Red and Blue were resilient all game, answering whenever Columbia scored. After the Lions pushed their lead to 3-1 after the fourth inning, the Quakers struck back in the fifth. Senior shortstop Jessica England scored following a Columbia error off the bat of freshman center fielder Emma Nedley. On the next play, Nedley and sophomore third baseman Lucy Yang pulled off a double steal, as Yang slid into home to even up the game.
After Columbia hit a three-run shot in the bottom of the sixth, the Quakers found themselves with their backs against the wall. But they wouldn’t go down quietly. England and fellow senior Sarah Cwiertnia started the rally and reached base to begin the inning. England scored on a deep sacrifice fly from Yang that, with no wind, might have been her fifth home run of the season. Nedley plated another run with a sacrifice fly of her own to make it a one-run game. Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, that’s where the contest would stay.
In game two, freshman pitcher Julia Longo was dealing. After she handled the Lions for three innings, the Penn bats started getting going behind her. Senior first baseman Hannah Gibbons laced one to the gap in right-center field, which scored Nedley to get Penn on the board. On the next at-bat, freshman left fielder Corrie Phillips hit a two-run bomb over the right field wall, her first home run of the season.
Columbia scored one run in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Quakers added another in the top of the sixth when sophomore right fielder Kayla Ketring singled to bring Nedley home for a 4-2 lead. That would be all the Red and Blue needed as they hung on to win, 4-3.
In the third game, the Quakers got down but couldn’t catch back up. However, despite trailing by a score of 5-0 to start the seventh, the Red and Blue made it interesting. Phillips hit a ball to center that was dropped, allowing Yang and freshman pinch runner Julia Schneider to score. After that, Nedley scored off a groundout from sophomore catcher Sarah Ketring. Sophomore right fielder Kayla Ketring then singled to score Phillips, making the score 5-4.
The score would stay 5-4, however, as the Quakers couldn’t plate the tying run.
Though their regular season Ivy play is finished, the Red and Blue still have one more doubleheader next weekend against Howard. They’ll look to finish the regular season on a high note while they await their postseason Ivy League fate.