In sports, there are games that live on in legend. Then there are others that teams hope to bury in the past. This game was the latter. In a matchup between Big 5 rivals, Villanova trounced Penn softball, mercying them in six innings with a score of 8-0.
Penn (3-27, 1-8 Ivy) struggled against Villanova in almost every facet of the game, being out hit 12-2. The Quakers were only able to muster two baserunners all game, meanwhile the Wildcats (19-16) were all over the bases. It's the seventh time this season that Penn has lost via the mercy rule, which triggers when one team is ahead by eight or more runs after five or more innings.
The second inning epitomized Penn's struggles throughout the entirety of the game. In the top half, down 1-0, Sarah Schneider led off with a single but was gunned down stealing. The next two consecutive batters fell victim to the strikeout.
Strikeouts were a problem for the Red and Blue all game, as they struggled to start anything on offense. Villanova’s pitching finished the day with nine strikeouts.
It was quite the opposite for Villanova, whose breakout inning came in the bottom half of the second. It started similar enough to Penn, with a leadoff single from Nova's Brooklyn Ostrowski, but after a sacrifice bunt and walk, a single to left drove in Ostrowski. Penn right-handed pitcher Kelly Zybura was able to strike out the next batter, but the relief was short-lived as a single and double knocked in another three runs to make the score 5-0.
Down five, the Quaker offense struggled to come alive and after two lead off hits in the first and second, they were held without a base runner for the rest of the game.
Senior right-handed pitcher Bella Fiorentino was a lone bright spot for Penn. She came on to relieve Zybura in the fourth with the bases loaded and down 7-0, prevented further damage with a strikeout to end the inning. Strikeouts did not come easy for Penn pitching as Villanova hitters only conceded three the entire game, but Fiorentino's came up huge to stop the damage.
In the fifth, Villanova loaded the bases with no outs, but Fiorentino again was able to work her way out of the jam — inducing three straight ground balls. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Rachel Riley came on to replace her in the sixth.
Penn failed to score in the sixth and after they surrendered another run, the game was called to an early finish. Tuesday's game highlighted the team's struggles to combine an elite offensive performance with an elite defensive one.
Penn will return to Ivy League action as the team travels to Yale for a weekend series, starting with a double header on Saturday.