Penn softball fell victim to being the unstoppable force that met an immovable object.
In a matchup of two of the best teams in the Ivy League, it was a battle between Penn’s hot offense and Princeton’s dominant pitching. Going into the series, Penn was at the top of the conference in batting average, while Princeton led the Ancient Eight in earned run average. At the start of the series, Penn held the top spot in the standings, with Princeton, Columbia, and Harvard all close behind, tied for second place.
One three-game weekend later, Princeton regained the lead over the Quakers with a 2-1 series win. The Tigers won game one, 5-2, and clinched the series with a nine-inning 1-0 win to start the Saturday doubleheader. The Quakers' lone win on the weekend came from a 14-5 game three offensive explosion.
“Every game in the Ivy League has mattered for us, and it’s a really close run this season between the teams; there’s no clear leader and no clear loser,” sophomore third baseman Lucy Yang said. “Getting swept really isn’t an option if we want to finish on top.”
In game one on Friday, Princeton (12-17, 8-4 Ivy) was able to hold the Penn offense in check from the mound. The Quakers (18-13, 9-6) had a huge opportunity in the third inning when they had the bases loaded with only one out, but were only able to get one run across. A home run by freshman outfielder Corrie Phillips in the top of the seventh inning would be the only other offense the Quakers would muster in the game, as they fell to the Tigers, 5-2.
The Princeton pitching would continue to dominate Saturday morning, but this time it was matched by the dominant pitching of Penn freshman Julia Longo. Longo dueled Princeton starter Ali Blanchard, with neither pitcher allowing a run through seven innings.
The visitors would prevail after Longo gave up two singles in the top of the ninth, and junior pitcher Jennifer Brann came in to try to put out the flames. A sacrifice bunt followed by a sacrifice fly plated the only run that the Tigers would need, as the Quakers lost, 1-0.
The Red and Blue flexed their offensive muscles in the final game to beat the Tigers, 14-5. After struggling against Princeton’s pitching in the first two games, Penn seemed to have gotten Princeton’s number the third time around. The Quakers put up 14 runs, highlighted by a eight-run third inning that included a two-run homer from Yang.
“It was really important for us to find a way to produce any way we could, and we managed to do that,” she said. “It is really important for us to do the little things, and of course the big hits will come.”
With a nine-run lead after five innings — despite a four spot from the Tigers in the top of the fifth — the Quakers were able to end the game early after four and a half innings through the mercy rule.
Despite a good final game, losing the first two games proved detrimental as the Quakers now find themselves fourth in the Ivy League standings, just behind Harvard, Columbia, and the Tigers. However, the Quakers have played more games than the teams ahead of them, so the race for the title will be one to watch, as the standings can shuffle daily.
“We really need to focus on one game at a time because every one counts,” Dyer said. “We just need to keep playing like we’ve been playing.”
The Quakers will look to build off game three when they visit local foe Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday. The Red and Blue will then jump back in to Ivy play when they welcome Brown to Penn Park next weekend.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.