Not out-hit, but still outplayed.
Penn softball traveled west to take on area rival Saint Joseph's on Wednesday, and despite out-hitting the Hawks, 8-4, fielding miscues and questionable umpiring doomed the Quakers, as they fell by a score of 4-1.
The Red and Blue (18-14, 9-6 Ivy) started the game strong, with senior first baseman Sarah Cwiertnia blasting her second home run of the season to left field in the top of the first. On the mound, freshman Julia Longo was dominant, inducing three quick groundouts to set the Hawks (21-16, 9-3 A-10) down in order.
Longo would leave the game after allowing just one runner to reach base on an error, but when the Red and Blue turned to sophomore Tabitha Dyer, the wheels began to come of the tracks. After Dyer walked the first batter she saw and allowed the next batter to reach on a fielding error, the Hawks had runners on the corners with no outs.
Then chaos ensued.
St. Joe's junior left fielder Ashley Hession tried to steal a base, and as the throw came down to second, sophomore pinch runner Kirstin Cox broke for home. The throw from Penn senior shortstop Jessica England beat Cox home, but the home plate umpire called the runner safe, claiming that freshman catcher Laurel McKelvy had obstructed Cox’s path to the plate. In the aftermath of the confusion and arguments, Dyer seemed to be out of rhythm, allowing an RBI double to junior catcher Sarah Ostaszewski that put St. Joe's ahead by a score of 2-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Quakers found themselves with runners on the corners with just one out when junior left fielder Clare Sebastianelli hit a ground ball to the left of the mound. Freshman center fielder Emma Nedley broke for the plate and was thrown out at home on a nearly identical play to the one just an inning before. Visibly frustrated, the Penn dugout felt as if Ostaszewski should have been called for obstruction, and the Quakers would go down without scoring in the inning.
“Obviously it made a difference in the game, and it would have been nice to have the calls go our way, but we can only control the things we can control,” Cwiertnia said. “We have to do a better job focusing on our own game.”
The inning would get worse for the Red and Blue. In the bottom half of the frame, with one runner on base for the Hawks, a hard ground ball by Cox found its way through the legs of senior second baseman Sam Pederson, driving in another run for the Hawks.
While the Quakers loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the seventh before a Cwiertnia groundout ended the game, their offense barely put pressure on the Hawks for most of the contest. Despite their eight hits, the Red and Blue batted just 2-for-15 with runners on base and 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
“It just didn’t fall our way," Cwiertina said. "We were making hard contact, but a lot of times it was right at them."
While the Quakers did not get the result they wanted against St. Joe's, they now turn their attention to the weekend, where a three-game set against Brown (10-18, 3-9 Ivy) awaits them for their last home Ivy matchup of the year.
The Bears struggled out of the gate in Ivy League play, winning just one of their first nine League contests. However, they have improved lately, taking two out of three games against Yale last weekend.
Brown is paced on offense by sophomore catcher Madi Cranford, who is hitting .418 with four home runs this season. Despite these impressive numbers, Cranford has found herself in a bit of a slump recently, recording just four hits — all singles — in her last six games.
At the plate, the Quakers will get their first look at freshman ace Lauren Innerst, who leads the Bears with an impressive 2.52 earned run average to go along with 43 strikeouts.
“If we can hit the ball like we have the last few weekends and just have fun as a team, we will put ourselves in a good position to succeed,” Cwiertnia said.
The Red and Blue currently find themselves in a cluster of five teams at the top of the Ivy League, and ensuring they don’t make the same mistakes as they did against St. Joe’s will be crucial in continuing their climb up the standings.