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Dirty 30 as Softball loses its final three

(05/03/00 9:00am)

Penn hit the 30-loss plateau for the second time in shcool history. It was a fitting end to a disappointing season for the Penn softball team this past weekend. The Quakers dropped their final three Ivy League contests to drop to 2-10 in Ancient Eight competition, while falling to 13-30-1 overall. Needless to say, the Red and Blue were not very happy with these results. "Our record is not indicative of the talent we have on our team," sophomore third baseman Jen Moore said. "It's just that we couldn't put it all together at the same time." The troubles began on Friday when the Quakers fell to league-leading Harvard, 9-1, in a rescheduled game. Harvard pitcher Chelsea Thoke, who got beat up by Penn in the previous game, silenced the Quakers bats, allowing just one unearned run off five hits to earn the win. Penn freshman pitcher Becky Ranta, who had been stellar for the Quakers all season, could not contain the Crimson's offensive firepower. She was ousted after three innings after giving up five runs on five hits. "In my opinion, Harvard is the strongest team in the Ivies," Penn coach Carol Kashow said. "They just keep coming at you offensively." Penn wrapped up its season on Sunday when it traveled to Hanover, N.H., to square off in a twin bill against Dartmouth. And despite the fact that the games were a bit more closely contested, the Quakers still fell short, 5-2 and 2-0, to conclude their disappointing season. Penn took a short-lived lead in the opener after scoring two unearned runs in the fourth, but the Big Green bounced right back with a four-run fifth inning highlighted by an RBI double from Kisa Brannen and an RBI triple from Jenny Harsey. Ranta suffered her second loss in as many games, giving up five runs on seven hits in five innings. She ended her first collegiate season with a 9-11 record. Dartmouth was led to victory by star freshman pitcher Christine Quattrocchi, who just a weekend before shut down Ivy powerhouse Princeton. Quattrocchi held Penn to two unearned runs on six hits for the complete-game victory. It was more of the same in the nightcap as Penn's bats could simply not get going. The Quakers wasted a strong pitching performance by senior Michelle Zaptin as they were shut out, 2-0. Zaptin turned in a fine performance in the final game of her career, allowing just two runs on five hits in four innings. But Dartmouth pitcher Stacy Sanders outdueled the Penn senior to give the Big Green the victory, tossing a three-hit complete game shutout. One of Penn's three hits, however, was a big one. With two outs in the fourth inning, Moore doubled to center field to record her 45th hit of the season, a new Penn single-season record. "It was very reflective of Jen's continuing development as a ballplayer and an athlete," Kashow said of the hit record. "She is on the way to realizing her potential." Moore, however, played down her rather impressive accomplishment. "Putting perspective on it nationally, 45 hits is no big deal at all," Moore said. "It's just a big deal here because softball is not a big thing. Raising the bar is always good." Moore's hit record was one of the few bright spots in a season that saw the Quakers finish in last place in the Ivy League. However, Kashow, while being disappointed with her team's record, found some bright spots for the future. "It certainly was disappointing that we didn't win more games in the Ivies," said Kashow, who cited a tough schedule and a young team as the main reason for Penn's subpar record. "But by beating quality teams like Princeton and Cornell, it shows that we can go toe-to-toe with any of the teams in the Ivies." And with a team filled with freshmen and sophomores, Kashow is excited and optimistic for what is in store for the Penn softball team. "Overall, I'm really proud of how a relatively young team handled a tough schedule," Kashow said. "It is quite promising for the future."

Softball looks to end season with upsets

(04/28/00 9:00am)

A tough season for the Penn softball team may get a little tougher this weekend. The Quakers, sporting a lowly 2-7 record in the Ivy League, will conclude their Ancient Eight season this weekend when they square off against Harvard and Dartmouth, the two top teams in the conference. Last weekend, the Red and Blue (13-25-1) were only able to squeeze in one game -- a 10-5 loss to Harvard -- as rain washed away Penn's other three scheduled contests. The Quakers' non-league games against Wagner and St. Joseph's have been cancelled this weekend to leave room for their rescheduled games against the Crimson and the Big Green. Thus far in 2000, Harvard and Dartmouth appear to be the two best teams in the Ivies. The Crimson are undefeated in Ivy play so far and are led by a strong balance of pitching and hitting. Five Harvard batters are hitting over .300, while Chelsea Thoke stabilizes the pitching staff with 93 strikeouts this season -- the sixth highest total in program history. However, the Crimson sport a subpar record of 12-17 overall, and in last weekend's game against Penn, they looked very beatable as the Quakers bats knocked out Thoke after just four innings. It was not until the sixth inning that a five-run offensive barrage gave Harvard the victory. The Quakers will also have their work cut out for them against Dartmouth (4-2, 19-11), which has only played six league games and is sitting pretty in second place in the Ivies, 1 1/2 games behind Harvard. The Big Green are coming off a big weekend in which they swept Princeton, beating the Tigers for the first time in the history of their program. Dartmouth was led to victory by freshman pitcher Christine Quattrocchi, who threw all 14 innings of the two-game series, which was played on Friday and Sunday due to rain. Quattrocchi shut out the Tigers in the second game without allowing a runner to reach third base. Her performance against the Orange and Black made her Ivy League Pitcher of the Week for the third time this season. While Harvard and Dartmouth will probably be duking it out this weekend for the Ivy title, the Quakers are simply looking to end their somewhat disappointing season on a high note. "We're looking to come out, play hard, put out our best effort and see what happens," senior captain Michelle Zaptin said. "Of course, we'd love to end the season on a good note and hopefully prove to everybody that we're better than our record indicates." The majority of the Red and Blue squad believes that the Quakers have yet to reach their potential this season and hope that they will finally do so in their season finale. "We're all disappointed because our record doesn't really show how good we are," sophomore second baseman Jamie Pallas said. "There have been a lot of games that we let slip away, and I'm sure we're all frustrated." Pallas also noted that the Quakers have had a difficult time putting all three facets of their game -- pitching, hitting and defense -- together for one game. "We're all going to go out there and play hard and try to get all three assets of our game working at the same time," Pallas said. "If we do that, we can definitely have a great weekend." One spark for the Quakers this season has been sophomore third baseman Jen Moore. On Wednesday against Delaware, Moore tied Penn's single-season record for hits with 44, but was rather modest about her accomplishments, saying after the game that she cared more about the team's success. Moore's team-first attitude has spread throughout the Quakers squad, and heading into the final weekend of the season and the last in the careers of Penn's three seniors, the Red and Blue want to play together and do the best they can. "We're all definitely a little sad right now -- it's come to an end really quickly," said Zaptin, who will be playing in her final collegiate softball game this weekend. "But we're all looking forward to this weekend to see what we can do."

Harvard nips Softball in weekend's one dry game

(04/24/00 9:00am)

April showers might bring May flowers. But they also wreak havoc on the schedule of the Penn softball team. Originally scheduled to play consecutive doubleheaders against Harvard and Dartmouth on Friday and Saturday, Mother Nature only allowed the Quakers to get in one game -- a 10-5 defeat at the hands of the Crimson in the opening game of Friday's doubleheader. Game two against Harvard was then rescheduled and postponed two more times due to the rainy weather and wet fields. The doubleheader against Dartmouth has also been postponed. "We were all waiting for the fields to dry, but it never happened," sophomore third baseman Jen Moore said. "It was a pain, but we can't help the weather." Penn will now play Harvard at Yale next Saturday before squaring off against Dartmouth next Sunday to round out its Ivy League schedule. The one game that the Quakers were able to squeeze in against the weather was a well-played contest, but in the end, the Crimson proved to be too strong. Harvard (12-17 overall, 5-0 Ivy League) jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning when right fielder Sarah Koppel laced a two-run triple just inside the right field line before being driven home by starting pitcher Chelsea Thoke. But the Quakers fought right back, showing some of the come-from-behind ability that they displayed in their victories over Princeton and Cornell last weekend. Penn (13-25-1, 2-7) got on the board in the second with a sacrifice fly from sophomore second baseman Jamie Pallas to cut the lead to 3-1. The Red and Blue then exploded in the fourth inning, scoring four runs to take a 5-3 lead. The rally got started with two outs in the inning. The Quakers loaded the bases after two walks and a single before sophomore left fielder Clarisa Apostol drove home Pallas. Freshman shortstop Crista Farrell then smacked a base-clearing double to deep left, but she was thrown out trying to extend it into a triple to end the rally and the inning. "It was a considerable blast," Penn coach Carol Kashow said bluntly. The fourth-inning barrage sent Thoke to the showers, for, despite being last season's Ivy League pitcher of the year, she could not contain the Quakers offense. "We scored five runs against one of the better pitchers in the Ivies, and we knocked out two quality pitchers against Princeton and Cornell [last weekend]," Kashow said. "It shows that our offense is getting better and continuing to develop." The Red and Blue, however, could not hold their lead against the Crimson, who hold a first-place lead in Ivy play this season. Harvard scored one run apiece in the fourth and fifth innings to tie the game before erupting in the sixth, taking a commanding lead that they would never relinquish. After an RBI single from shortstop Cherry Fu, the Crimson hit back-to-back homers off Penn freshman pitcher Becky Ranta. Catcher Mairead McKendry hit a three-run blast for her seventh home run of the season before Koppel went yard to cap off the rally and give Harvard the 10-5 victory. "They just killed the ball in the sixth inning -- they just got a hold of the ball," Moore said. "That happens sometimes." Ranta gave up nine runs in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss and drop to 9-10 on the season, but Kashow was considerably happy with the freshman's performance. "It was a good job by Becky to keep her composure with adverse conditions," Kashow said. "We had a freshman on the mound against the No. 1 team in the Ivies -- it speaks well to her credit." Kashow was also pleased with Penn's comeback. Even though they could not pick up the win, it marked the third-straight series in which the Quakers came from behind against top Ivy League competitors. "It was a come-from-behind situation for us," Kashow said. "It shows that we can, in fact, come from behind against the tough teams in the conference." "The score was in no way indicative of how close the game really was," Kashow said. Penn will look to avenge its loss when it plays the Crimson next Saturday in a rescheduled game. They just better hope that the Heavens permit it.

Softball gets first wins over tough Ivy rivals in years

(04/17/00 9:00am)

Penn had not beaten Cornell or princeton in its seniors' careers. Heading into this weekend, Penn seniors Michelle Zaptin, Suzanne Arbogast and Kari Dennis had never been able to defeat either Princeton or Cornell in their collegiate softball careers. In fact, it had been eight and five years, respectively, since the Quakers had been able to muster up wins against these two Ivy powerhouses. But in the final homestand of the season and the last in the career of Penn's three graduating seniors, the Quakers came away with dramatic come-from-behind victories over both Princeton and Cornell, recording two splits and picking up their first two Ivy League wins on the season. "I'm quite proud of my team," Penn coach Carol Kashow said. "Both of our wins were come-from-behind victories. We faced adversity, but that didn't stop us. We're growing up a little and maturing." The Quakers' success began on Friday afternoon at Warren Field when they squared off against Princeton. Penn (13-24-1, 2-6 Ivy League) scored three times in the sixth inning to erase a 1-0 deficit and come away with a 3-1 victory over the Tigers (17-19, 6-2). The game was scoreless through the first four innings as pitchers Penn freshman Becky Ranta and Princeton senior Sarah Peterman cruised. The Tigers, who had not lost an Ivy League game prior to this weekend, drew first blood in the fifth with an RBI single from second baseman Mackenzie Forsythe. But Penn fought right back in the bottom of the sixth. Sophomore left fielder Clarisa Apostol led off the inning with a walk, which was followed by a bunt single from freshman shortstop Crista Farrell. Sophomore third baseman Jen Moore then tied the game with an RBI single to right before the Quakers took the lead after freshman designated player Heidi Albrecht and right fielder Deb Kowalchuk were hit by pitches in consecutive at-bats. Moore scored and made the score 3-1 after an error by Princeton shortstop Kim Veenstra. Ranta, who gave up one run on five hits, got the complete game victory to give the Quakers their first win over Princeton in 16 games. "When the catcher caught the last out of the game, that is something that can never be taken away from you," Kashow said. "For the kids, it's a huge thing." The strong play and the excitement, however, did not carry over into the second game against the Tigers. Princeton sophomore pitcher Brie Galicinao completely shut down Penn, as she tossed her first career perfect game and carried the Orange and Black to an 8-0 victory. The clear-cut MVP of the game, Galicinao was not only perfect on the mound, but was also impressive at the plate, going 3-for-3 and scoring a pair of runs. The Red and Blue returned to action yesterday against defending Ivy League champion Cornell. But the Quakers once again showed that they were undaunted by the competition, as they picked up a come-from-behind, extra-inning 5-4 win in the opener. Penn trailed 4-2 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning before scoring twice to send the game into extra innings, capped off by a Moore sacrifice fly. The Quakers then got the victory with two outs in the bottom of the 10th when Apostol singled home freshman catcher Dani Landolt. Ranta got her second win in three days as she pitched all 10 innings, improving to 9-9 while recording her team-high 11th complete game. But the Quakers once again could not keep the momentum rolling as they were shut out by Cornell freshman Andrea Carrol, who tossed a six-hitter to lead the Big Red to a 7-0 whitewash in the nightcap. The doubleheader against the Big Red was, in fact, nearly a spitting image of the twin bill against Princeton. In both cases, Penn picked up dramatic wins over teams they have historically struggled against in the opener before getting shut out in the nightcap. "We're sort of like a butterfly coming out of a caterpillar," Kashow said. "We're starting to grow, emerge and show our wings." The victories were especially important for Penn's three seniors, who played in their final game at Warren Field yesterday. "My four years have gone by really fast, and I'm sad that this is the last game that we'll ever play here," senior captain Zaptin said. "But it felt really good to beat Princeton Friday, and taking one from Cornell is very exciting."

Softball to tangle with Dragons

(04/12/00 9:00am)

The Quakers look to rebound from a four-loss Ivy homestand today against city rival Drexel. Two West Philadelphia neighbors will do battle at Drexel Field today. The Penn softball team won't travel far to play a doubleheader against the Drexel Dragons at 4:00 this afternoon in a fight for University City bragging rights. Thus far this season, the Quakers boast a 4-1-1 record in the City Six, an informal but still very competitive league comprised of the Philadelphia Big 5 and Drexel. The Red and Blue swept La Salle and recorded a win and a tie against Villanova before splitting with Temple on April Fool's Day. The team will look to continue its winning ways against their Philly foes today against the Dragons. "You'd love to be the team that won the City Six," said sophomore left fielder Clarisa Apostol, who is second on the Quakers in batting average with a .286 mark. "It's great to be known as the Philly team that came out the best." "We want to prove that we're a power in the city," freshman designated hitter Heidi Albrecht added. But to come out victorious against the Dragons, the Quakers will have to fix some of their recent problems, including their lack of consistency and meager offensive production. Penn (11-20-1, 0-4) is coming off a four-game losing streak in which the Quakers were only able to produce four combined runs, while stranding a whopping 26 runners on base. For the Quakers, some of the hitting has been there, but the team has simply been struggling to get the key hits to drive runners home. "We're a good hitting team, and we've been putting hits together," sophomore second baseman Jamie Pallas said. "But we've left a lot of runners on base, and we can't do that if we want to win." The Red and Blue will look to turn this around today and hopefully keep it going for the rest of the season. "We're looking for more hits with runners in scoring position," Albrecht said. "We've simply got to get more runs on the board." Consistency has been another problem that has plagued the Quakers so far this season. "We need to bring defense, pitching and offense to each and every game," Penn coach Carol Kashow said. "We haven't executed in games the way I would like." The Red and Blue hope to fix some of these problems and get back on the winning side this afternoon. But blocking their path is a strong Drexel squad led by star pitchers Laura Tynio and Lori Swanson. The sophomore and junior hurlers have nice movement on the ball and excellent velocity. "It's not too often you find that combination," Apostol commented. "It's definitely going to be challenging. Nevertheless, the Quakers look to get back on track and end their four-game skid before heading back into their Ivy League schedule, which includes an important doubleheader against rival Princeton on Friday. But the Red and Blue will take one game at a time and not look ahead to their upcoming battle with the Tigers. "It's important not to get far-sighted," Kashow said. "We just have to try to take each day as it comes." And in today's games, the Quakers will try to finally bring runners home from scoring position and put all of the pieces together as the regular season winds to a close. "We definitely haven't played to our potential -- it's disappointing to see how well we practice and then not see the results," Apostol said. "Hopefully against Drexel we can put it all together." "We're definitely just trying to focus on playing good ball," Albrecht added. "We've got to get ourselves back together." And once the Quakers talented squad does succeed in bringing all assets of its game together, they believe the sky's the limit. "We have a lot of talent, and we will put it together soon," Pallas said. "And when we do, we're gonna rock."

Softball drops first four Ivy games at home

(04/11/00 9:00am)

Four games. Four runs. Four defeats. That was the story for the Penn softball team yesterday and Saturday as they dropped consecutive doubleheaders to Ivy rivals Yale and Brown, while putting together only four combined runs in the losses. The offensive struggles began in the Quakers' Ivy League opening doubleheader against Yale on Saturday at Warren Field. Despite a strong pitching effort by star freshman pitcher Becky Ranta, Penn (11-20-1, 0-4) was unable to get on the scoreboard against Yale senior pitcher Teri Hickey. The Quakers fell to the Elis, 1-0. The lone run of the ballgame came in the top of the third with an RBI double from Yale second baseman Kathy Ching. That would be all the support Hickey needed as she stifled the Quakers' bats the rest of the way, giving up only five hits while recording her third shutout of the season. Ranta, who dropped to 7-7, was the tough-luck loser, scattering nine hits in her team-high eighth complete game of the season. The second game appeared to be another close pitchers duel between Penn senior Suzanne Arbogast and Yale hurler Mariah Fike through the first four innings. Each team put one run on the scoreboard in the third inning, the Quakers run coming on an RBI single from freshman designated hitter Heidi Albrecht. But with the game knotted at one, the Elis erupted in the top of the fifth inning, scoring seven times on six hits to open a comfortable 8-1 lead behind a two-run triple from Yale first baseman Monica Lebron. Lebron and the Elis tacked on two more runs in the seventh to cap off the 10-1 victory. Arbogast fell to 2-7 on the season after giving up five runs on four hits while walking eight in 6 2/3 innings. After dropping two to the Elis, the Quakers looked to bounce back against Brown yesterday at Warren Field after the doubleheader, which was originally scheduled for Sunday, was postponed due to snow. But once again, the Penn bats could not get rolling, as the Bears left West Philly with 4-2 and 8-1 victories. In game one, the Quakers took a 1-0 lead in the third inning after freshman shortstop Crista Farrell grounded into a fielders choice with the bases loaded to score Arbogast. But Ranta, pitching in her second consecutive doubleheader, could not hold the Quakers lead, as the Bears scored fours runs in the top of the fourth, capped off by a two-run double by Brown third baseman Tami Parrot. The Quakers added a run in the bottom of the fourth when Penn sophomore third baseman Jen Moore walked and later scored on a wild pitch, but could not get more runs, as they fell to the Bears by a 4-2 margin. Ranta took the loss to fall to 7-8 on the season, while Penn freshman pitcher Dina Parise worked three innings of scoreless relief for the Quakers. But after the game, Penn coach Carol Kashow was less concerned about her team's pitching than the Quakers' lack of offensive production. "We need to score more runs -- we're capable of doing it," Kashow said. "The defense and pitching is solid, and we're getting people on, but we're not getting them home." The nightcap was more of the same for the Red and Blue as they were able to produce only run, dropping their fourth straight game, 8-1. The Quakers took a 1-0 lead in the first with a Moore RBI single, but the Bears fought right back with eight unanswered runs. Arbogast took the loss, but was not helped by her defense, which committed five errors in the game. Only one of the runs the senior pitcher gave up was earned. Brown hurler Erin Durlesser, who allowed one run on three hits in her complete game victory, was very satisfied with the win. "I felt like my team was behind me, and I felt like I was in control of myself and was able to hit my spots," Durlesser said. "These wins are really important for us." The Quakers know that they have the ability to turn things around. "We expect a lot more from the team than we've been showing," freshman outfielder Deb Kowalchuk said. "We're not playing up to our potential."

Softball offense awakens in wins

(04/06/00 9:00am)

The Quakers won two relatively high-scoring games at Lehigh. The Penn softball team snapped out of its recent funk with an offensive explosion yesterday afternoon in Bethlehem, Pa. After producing just one win in their last eight contests, the Quakers swept host Lehigh, 6-5 and 11-8, with something that had been missing in their last few games -- runs. And their offensive potency could not have come at a better time. The Quakers (11-16-1) are heading into the most important part of their season as they square off against Yale and Brown this weekend to kick off their Ivy League slate. Thus, the two victories were extremely important for building confidence and momentum heading into Ancient Eight competition. "The Ivy League is up for grabs this season," said freshman pitcher Becky Ranta, who tossed a complete game in the opener yesterday. "We're on a roll now, and we'll hope to carry that into this weekend." The Quakers put their hitting shoes on in the opener. After falling behind 4-1 in the third, Penn's bats caught fire. Shortstop Crista Farrell had an RBI double in the fourth to bring the Quakers within two before the Red and Blue got a little help from Lehigh's fielders to tie the game in the fifth. Penn did not record a hit in the fifth, but two Engineers errors and a wild pitch helped produce the Quakers runs. After Penn and Lehigh exchanged runs in the sixth, senior first baseman Kari Dennis provided the game-winner in the seventh, driving home sophomore third baseman Jen Moore with a single to right-center field. Ranta, who gave up four earned runs on 13 hits, set Lehigh down in order in the bottom of the seventh to preserve the 6-5 victory. Ranta picked up her seventh win on the year. While the Quakers took advantage of some Lehigh miscues and picked up some timely hits in the first game, the second game was an absolute offensive barrage that was called after five due to darkness. In just five innings of play, the Quakers produced their highest run-total of the season, scoring 11 runs on 13 hits -- this coming from the same squad that scored only four combined runs in their last three defeats. "It's nice to score a lot of runs," Farrell said. "We've been leaving a lot of runners on base and losing by a couple lately, but today we did a good job getting a lot of clutch hits with two outs." In the second game of the twin bill, sophomore left fielder Clarisa Apostol led off with a single up the middle and was driven home with a three-bagger from freshman right fielder Deb Kowalchuk. Two batters later, Kowalchuk crossed the plate with a sacrifice fly from freshman designated hitter Heidi Albrecht. But Lehigh also had some extra pop in their bats. The Engineers cut the Penn lead in half with a run in the bottom half of the first, and after a Quakers run in the second, Lehigh took a 4-3 lead behind a two-run dinger from Tara Stine in the bottom of the second. After the Quakers and Engineers exchanged three runs a piece in the third, Penn put up three more in the top of the fourth to take a 9-7 lead -- a lead that it would never relinquish. The Quakers added two more runs in the fifth, and freshman pitcher Dina Parise got out of a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the fifth to give the Quakers an 11-8 victory. Parise, who gave up four earned runs off seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, picked up her first collegiate win. But this was not a game for pitchers, as this slugfest produced four lead changes, 19 combined runs and scoring in every inning. The Quakers will look to continue this high level of offensive production when they host Ivy rivals Yale and Brown in consecutive double dips on Saturday and Sunday at Warren Field.

Softball routed, then ties 'Nova on main Line

(03/30/00 10:00am)

Penn was ahead in the nightcap, but Villanova tied it up as darkness arrived. This has been a season of streaks for the Penn softball team. And, right now, the Quakers are on a cold streak. After winning four straight over La Salle and Lafayette last weekend, Penn (8-13-1) is now winless in its last four contests. Penn was shut out yesterday afternoon at Villanova in the opener of a doubleheader, 9-0, and tied the Wildcats, 5-5, in the nightcap as the game was called in the bottom of the fifth due to darkness. The first game was lost from the get-go as the Quakers came out flat, giving up five first-inning runs to host Villanova. It was a lead that the Wildcats would never relinquish. "We came out kind of shaky and let the first game slip away after the first inning," Penn freshman shortstop Crista Farrell said. The first-inning onslaught came against freshman pitcher Becky Ranta, who has been the Quakers' ace and was just named to the Ivy League honor roll this week. The Wildcats, however, took no notice of Ranta's prior accomplishments as they roughed her up for five runs on seven hits. Fellow Penn freshman Dina Parise had no better luck at stopping 'Nova, giving up four runs in 4 1/3 innings. The game was called in the sixth inning due to the eight-run mercy rule. Offense was also lacking for the Quakers in the opener. Sophomore second baseman Molly Meehan collected Penn's lone hit off the stellar pitching duo of Carrie Walpole and Faith Meisinger. Part of the reason for Penn's lack of offensive production was the umpire's rather large and unorthodox strike zone. But the Quakers would not use this as an excuse, as the strike zone was the same on both sides. "The umpire was calling a lot of inside pitches for strikes -- it was a kind of unexpected strike zone," third basemen Jen Moore said. "But Villanova pitched a really good game, and we should have been swinging." Another possible reason for Penn's unimpressive performance was the absence of two starters -- second baseman Jamie Pallas and left fielder Clarisa Apostol. The two sophomores took the game off to attend the funeral of friend and College junior Justin Finalle, who committed suicide this past weekend. Nevertheless, the Quakers are still very disappointed with their performance. "They hit the ball, and we didn't and our fielders did not do a good job," Moore said. "It was a disappointing game." But while Penn seemed to give up in the first game, they made quite a game out of the nightcap. The Penn bats finally got rolling in the third inning, as the Quakers brought home four runs to break the scoreless tie. Freshman left fielder Deb Kowalchuk got the rally going with a one-out single. After a Farrell sacrifice and a passed ball, Moore drove home Kowalchuk with her team-leading eighth double of the season. Freshman Heidi Albrecht followed with a single to score Moore, and, two batters later, freshman catcher Dani Landolt drove in two more with another base hit. The Quakers extended their lead to five in the fourth with another Moore RBI, but the Wildcats came right back. They scored twice in both the fourth and fifth innings to pull to within 5-4. With the Quakers leading by one run in the bottom of the sixth inning, the game got interesting. Darkness was fast approaching, and many of the Quakers had trouble seeing the ball. "You need light entering your eyes to react," Moore said. In a valiant attempt to preserve its one-run lead before the game was called, Penn coach Carol Kashow changed pitchers twice, putting in Parise for senior captain Suzanne Arbogast, who gave up four runs and six hits through five innings, before putting Arbogast back in the game. But the Quakers could not hold off the Wildcats late-inning rally as Villanova benefited from a game-tying walk off Arbogast. As soon as the game was knotted at five, the umpires decided to call the game, leaving Villanova with the bases loaded and one out. Despite the late Wildcat come-back, Penn was still pleased with the game. "We played a lot better and showed a lot of character coming back in the second game," Moore said. The Quakers will look to get back to inscribing the winning side of the ledger when they square off this weekend against Temple and Army.

Softball goes 4-2 over hectic three-day span

(03/27/00 10:00am)

The Quakers cruised to four straight wins before Rider swept them. So far this season, the Penn softball team has been a team of streaks. After dropping the last seven games at the end of their road trip in Florida, Penn came home to win four in a row this weekend before losing the final two games in its three-day homestand. The Quakers (8-12) came into their six-game homestand with the intention of evening their record at 10 wins and losses, and they were able to sweep both Lafayette and La Salle in consecutive doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday at Warren Field. However, Penn was unable to keep the winning streak going as they fell to Rider's strong pitching, 2-1 and 2-0 yesterday afternoon. Penn's bats, which were potent in 8-0 and 4-1 victories against Lafayette and 5-4 and 9-3 wins over La Salle, were stymied by Rider's pitching tandem of Danielle Lake and Becky Fegely, who combined to give up only one run off 12 hits. However, the Quakers blamed themselves for the sweep, rather than the Broncs' pitching. "We could have easily won both games -- especially the first game because we had more hits and base-runners," sophomore third-baseman Jen Moore said. In the first game against the Broncs, the Quakers proved unable to capitalize on opportunities. The Red and Blue left eight runners on base, wasting a solid pitching effort by freshman Becky Ranta, who gave up only five hits in a complete-game. Ranta, who pitched in three of the six games for the Quakers this weekend, has been a valuable asset to the club in just her first year of collegiate athletics. "[Ranta] was nervous at the start of the year, but she has really settled down," Moore said. "Her curveball is working great and really fooling batters? and sometimes even the fielders." In the second game against Rider, the Quakers' bats just never got going. They were able to produce only three hits as Suzanne Arbogast, who gave up only two runs off four hits, was the hard-luck loser. Penn put together a late rally in the bottom of the seventh as senior first baseman Kari Dennis worked a one-out walk after falling behind 1-2 in the count. Danielle Landolt then ripped a line drive to center, but sophomore Molly Meehan, pinch-running for Dennis, could not get to second before the throw from the center. Pinch-hitter Lisa McNeeley kept the rally alive with a base-hit to left, but freshman shortstop Crista Farrel struck out to end the game. Despite the final result, Penn coach Carol Kashow took something positive out of the close defeat. "We showed a lot of character in the last inning," Kashow said. "The lesson we'll take from today is that we're never out of any game." Kashow and her team knew there was something missing from yesterday's games. After four straight inspired victories, the Red and Blue lost their sharpness. "I think we were the better team, but there was just something missing today," sophomore left fielder Clarisa Apostol said. "On any other day, we could have taken Rider." Despite ending their homestand with two straight losses, the Quakers found reason for optimism in their first four victories. Against Lafayette on Friday, Penn won a pair of five-inning games, 8-0 and 4-1. Two freshmen led the way for the Quakers in the opener. Ranta tossed a three-hit shutout, and fellow newcomer Farrel went 3-3 with two runs and two RBI. Penn had a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second and added two runs in the fifth and the sixth innings before the game was called due to the eight-run mercy rule. In the second game, Penn had a 4-1 lead through five innings behind the powerful hitting of Moore. The third baseman scored the first run of the game for Penn in the first inning before connecting on a two-run homer in the bottom of the third, giving the Quakers a lead they would never relinquish. The game was called after five innings due to darkness. On Saturday, the Red and Blue continued their winning ways with a sweep of La Salle. In the opener, Penn rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the 11th to come away with a 5-4 win. With the score knotted at two through the first 10 innings, the international tiebreaker came into play -- each team would begin the inning with a runner at second base. The Explorers broke the tie with a run in the 10th on a sacrifice fly, but Penn answered right back in the bottom of the inning with an RBI from freshman center fielder Deb Kowalchuk, who went 3-for-5 with two RBI in the game. An Explorers run in the top of the 11th set the stage for Penn's last-inning heroics. Sophomore second baseman Jamie Pallas singled home the tying run with the bases loaded before Dennis crossed the plate for the winning run after a wild pitch. Ranta, who gave up two runs in 11 innings, got her second win in as many days behind a strong, one-error Penn defensive effort. Penn concluded the sweep with a 9-3 trouncing in the finale. Moore and Kowalchuk went yard for the Quakers, while senior captain Michelle Zaptin and freshman Dina Parise combined for the five-hit victory. However, while Penn's offense was strong in its first four wins, it simply was not there in the Rider sweep. "We had a strong pitching effort. The defense was solid -- the only thing that wasn't there was the offense," Kashow said. "If we brought the offense, we'd be looking at six straight wins."

Back north, Softball set to play six

(03/24/00 10:00am)

The Quakers have twin bills with Lafayette today, LaSalle tomorrow and Rider on Sunday. It's that time of year again. As the days of March wind down and the frigid winter climate gradually lifts to make for warm spring days, Major League Baseball teams across the country prepare to leave the confines of sunny Florida to do battle up north. The Penn softball team is no different. After kicking off its season with a 14-game stretch in the Sunshine State over spring break, during which they compiled a 4-10 record, Penn will prepare for its first home games of the season. The Quakers will play three doubleheaders against Lafayette, La Salle and Rider this weekend at Warren Field. And although the trip to Florida was a great experience for the team, the Red and Blue are glad to be back in the friendly confines of West Philly. "The Florida trip brought us closer together, and we feel more comfortable with each other," senior captain and pitcher Suzanne Arbogast said. "I think now playing at Penn on our home field will be a lot easier." "I'm definitely looking forward to playing on our own field," freshman pitcher Dina Parise added. The Quakers' sub-par record going into their first home contests may be a bit deceiving, however. The young squad, comprised of mostly freshmen and sophomores, faced extremely challenging competition over the break, including the likes of Illinois-Chicago, which is ranked 20th in the nation. "We're a pretty young team and, for having eight freshmen, I think we played really well," said sophomore left fielder Clarisa Apostol, who received first team All-Ivy honors in her freshman campaign. Apostol's roommate and starting second-baseman Jamie Pallas agreed. "Our record doesn't really show how good we are," the sophomore infielder said. The Quakers will look to even up their record this weekend, as six wins would bring them to a .500 mark on the season. "We all need to play hard, hit the ball and keep our defense sharp," Pallas said. "If we play like we know how, I'm pretty confident we can take all six." This goal, shared by the whole team, is fairly realistic. The '99 Quakers swept both Lafayette and Rider, while splitting with La Salle, and this year's Penn squad, with the addition of some key freshmen, is believed to be better than last year's. "This year, we're stronger defensively and offensively," Apostol said. "If we play our game, I don't think we'll have a problem this weekend?. It will also be nice to even out our record." Despite that Penn is playing against less-than-stellar competition -- Lafayette has only one win on the season while La Salle is coming off a 30-loss 1999 campaign -- the Quakers know that they cannot take any of their opponents lightly. "Coach [Carol Kashow] always tells us that we shouldn't take anyone lightly," said senior captain Michelle Zaptin, who plays both on the mound and in center field. "We're looking at each game individually to improve our record -- we just want to take one game at a time and see how things go." However, while not being cocky, the Quakers are still bubbling with confidence going into a very important weekend. "I'm really confident in our team, and I think we should win all six games," Parise said. "It will be competitive, but we should be on the winning side."

W. Fencing sends youth to NCAAs

(03/21/00 10:00am)

The regular dual-meet season may be over for the Penn women's fencing team, but for two of the Quakers' top fencers, there is still much left to be accomplished. Freshman epeeist Kim Linton and fellow freshman foilist Lauren Staudinger advanced to the NCAA Championships with strong performances at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic/South Region Championships this past Sunday. Linton, seeded ninth going into the tournament based on her season performance, finished 11th in the Mid-Atlantic/South Regional on Sunday, making her the eighth-best epeeist in the region, based upon the NCAA's weighted rankings system. That result was good enough to make her one of the nine epeeists representing the Mid-Atlantic/South Region at the NCAA Championships this coming weekend at Stanford. Staudinger, who was seeded eighth, finished in seventh place in the region both for the tournament and overall on the season. She will also represent Penn at the NCAAs this weekend. "I'm glad that we have two [fencers] going," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. "And the fact that they're freshmen gives them good experience for the future." Three other women also went to regionals, but were unable to qualify for the NCAAs. Sophomore sabre Abby Lifter made it to the final round but was stifled once she got there, finishing in 12th place. Freshman Christina Verigan, who was arguably Penn's top sabre fencer all year, went 1-4 in her pool and was knocked out in the first round, finishing in 19th place. Despite this poor result, Verigan remained optimistic for the future. "I have three more years to go -- I'll make it next year," she said. "Now I'm motivated to work over the summer and train harder in the off-season." Freshman foilist Stacey Wertlieb rounded out the field with a 13th-place finish for the Quakers. Seniors Amy Hozer and captain Heba Abdulla qualified for regionals, but they could not make it to State College, Pa., due to prior commitments. With the absence of these two upperclassmen, the weight was put on the shoulders of Penn's newcomers. Four freshmen and one sophomore represented the Quakers at regionals, forecasting a bright future for the Red and Blue. "I think that next year we will qualify more people for NCAAs," Verigan said. "Next season, I think that we'll be able to carry the team very well and uphold the tradition of high-quality fencing at Penn." Despite Penn's youth and inexperience, Micahnik was still unhappy with his team's results. The fact that the Quakers are only sending two fencers to the NCAAs gives them a handicap on coming away with a high finish at Stanford. Fencing powerhouses Penn State and Princeton are both sending the maximum of six fencers, giving them a sizeable advantage over Penn. "We needed to be a lot better," Micahnik said. "I was expecting much more." Staudinger, who was unhappy with a couple of her own losses, cited an extremely competitive field as the reason for the lack of Penn victories. "I think some more of our fencers deserved to go to NCAAs, but it was a really hard competition," she said. "It was too bad more of us didn't qualify." Nevertheless, Linton and Staudinger, the core of Penn's strong freshman class, will travel across the country and represent the Quakers, hoping to gain valuable experience for their next three years at Penn. "It's a reward for a good season, and it is a good steppingstone for the future," Micahnik said.

W. Fencing captures fifth place at IFAs

(03/08/00 10:00am)

In the regular season, the Penn women's fencing team suffered devastating one-touch losses to both NYU and Rutgers. On Saturday, the Quakers got their revenge at the IFA championships, taking fifth in a very strong 14-team field, while placing ahead of both the Violets and the Scarlet Knights. The Red and Blue finished behind Princeton, Yale, St. John's and Columbia -- the same teams they could not overcome in the regular dual-meet season. Thus, the outcome of the tournament was somewhat expected. "We came in behind teams that beat us during the regular season -- it was a representative showing," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. "I don't feel like we did badly, but I don't feel like we did wonderfully either." Leading the way for the Red and Blue was their strong foil squad, which combined to win 27 of 39 total bouts, placing fourth behind Ivy League rivals Princeton, Yale and Columbia. Freshman foilist Lauren Staudinger won 11 of her 13 bouts, putting her in second place in the A pool, while senior Margo Katz and freshman Stacey Wertlieb each won eight bouts and finished in fourth place in the B and C pool, respectively. "Relative to the field, the foilists did the best," Micahnik said. Penn's sabre squad also did very well, however. In the first year that women fenced sabre in the IFAs, the Quakers finished in sixth place, winning 21 total bouts. "The sabres came along. They're not as good as the best teams, but they haven't been fencing sabre that long," Micahnik said. "They did very well for us given a very difficult situation." For the sabres, freshman Christina Verigan and senior captain Heba Abdulla each won eight bouts, placing them fifth in the A and C pool, respectively, while sophomore Abby Lifter came in ninth place in the B pool. These results satisfied Penn's sabre fencers, as they know that they are still lacking in experience. "I think we did really well considering that a lot of squads have been training for a year or two," Verigan said. While Penn's sabres had the challenge of fencing more experienced opponents, the Quakers epeeists also faced stellar competition. The field was packed with proven champions and excellent fencers, including St. John's national epee champion Arlene Stevens, who was not even good enough to make the A pool. Stevens' teammate, Emese Takacs of Hungary, took the Red Storm's spot on the A strip. Nevertheless, the Quakers held their own, finishing in seventh place while coming away with 20 out of 39 bouts. Freshman epeeist Kim Linton came in sixth place, going 7-6 in the very tough A pool, while sophomore Mindy Nguyen came in 10th place, winning six of her 13 bouts in the B pool. Freshman Julia Blank and senior Sandra Yens won five and two bouts, respectively, on the C strip. Each fencers' performance was good enough to give them a top-third finish, a realistic goal set by Micahnik prior to the tournament. Nevertheless, the long-time fencing coach was still not satisfied with the results. "It was a pretty good tournament -- we were ahead of two-thirds of the field," Micahnik said. "But I'd like us to do better than that." After the team tournament on Saturday, the best fencers advanced to the individual tournament held the next day. For the Quakers, Staudinger, Katz, Verigan and Linton all competed on Sunday. However, only Staudinger was able to make it out of the first round, which was made up of two separate pools of six fencers. Staudinger advanced to the final pool of eight foilists, where she won four of her seven bouts, which was good enough to make her the fourth best foilist in the competition. Linton, Verigan and Katz combined to only win two bouts in the first round of the individual tournament. But this was against some of the best fencers in the country, and Verigan, for one, was happy with her results. "My goal was to make it to individuals and I did that," Verigan said. "I think that I came out of the meet with a lot more confidence, and I felt up to fencing A strip." However, putting records, victories and results aside, the tournament was a very emotional one as the Quakers said goodbye to their four seniors. "After the last bout, we were all hugging -- it's kind of sad that it's all over," Abdulla said. With the seniors departing, the strong corps of freshmen will be looked upon to step up for the Red and Blue. "We've established the tradition for them and now we're gone," said Abdulla, who won her final bout 5-1, in what could very well be the final bout of her Penn fencing career. With the Penn women's fencing team now done with their season, some individuals will look to continue to shine in the upcoming weeks. Penn State will host the Mid-Atlantic South Regional tournament this Sunday, and Penn will send any fencer who fenced in at least half of the meets, while winning in at least 50 percent of their total bouts. The following weekend, the Quakers will look to send some of their top fencers to the NCAAs at Stanford.

IFA setup may help W. Fencing

(03/03/00 10:00am)

For the Penn women's fencing team, the regular season is over. Now it's crunch time. The Quakers (8-8) will travel to Yale this weekend to begin the postseason with the Intercollegiate Fencing Association Championship. The two-day meet begins with a team tournament tomorrow in which the Red and Blue will square off against 12 other schools. The top fencers will then qualify for the individual tournament, which will take place Sunday. Of the 12 teams that Penn will be going against, the Quakers defeated five in the regular dual-meet season, while coming up short against five others. They did not fence against the other two schools -- Boston College and Vassar. However, the structure of IFAs differs markedly from that of previous dual meets. In the regular season, each fencer would fence all three of her opponents with a certain weapon. In the IFAs, however, each fencer is seeded A, B or C (based on skill level) and goes against the fencer paired against her from the opposing school. That being the case, each athlete will fence 12 bouts on the day, and each weapon squad will fence 36. The overall victor is then determined by the combined record of all three weapons. While the Quakers lost to five of the schools that will be in New Haven, they still believe they can place very well. While Penn's goal is to take home the whole enchilada, they realistically expect to finish in at least the top four or five. "Our people are good enough to get a good result," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. "The top third is a realistic goal?. Anything better than that is wonderful." But while many have high expectations, Penn's freshmen, who have been an integral part of the team this year, are not quite sure what to expect in what will be their first collegiate postseason tournament. "I'm really nervous, because it's a really tough field," epeeist Kim Linton said. Nevertheless, the newcomers are looking forward to the event. "I don't really know what to expect, but I think the days will be long and challenging," foilist Stacey Wertlieb said. "And they will probably serve as good indicators for how well we match up to opposing upperclassmen." And while the freshmen will be fencing in their first postseason tournament, it will be the last for Penn's four seniors. "Careers are winding down for some, while taking off for others," Micahnik said. But newcomers and veterans alike will have to come together to try and put an exclamation mark on their 1999-2000 season. "There is no other competition like this in the country," senior captain Heba Abdulla said. "It's a very prestigious honor to win this tournament and a great way to culminate the season."

Frosh lead way for W. Fencing

(03/01/00 10:00am)

While Penn men's basketball freshman forward Ugonna Onyekwe is busy slamming home perfectly placed alley-oop passes from fellow newcomer David Klatsky that send the Palestra crowd into a frenzy, five other members of the Class of 2003 are wreaking havoc on their opponents away from the spotlight -- right next door at Hutchinson Gymnasium. Foilists Lauren Staudinger and Stacey Wertlieb, epeeists Kim Linton and Julia Blank and sabre Christina Verigan have developed this year and blossomed into their roles, leading the Penn women's fencing team in just their first year of collegiate athletics. And they are far from finished. With four fencers, including captain Heba Abdulla, graduating after this season and with only two sophomores and no juniors on the team, the freshmen will be expected to carry the Red and Blue and lead them for the next three seasons. "I have to help them to improve so that they become a dominant group and put us over the top to win an Ivy championship," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. "If they become dominant fencers, while we bring in high-quality new people, we can have a heck of a team." And Micahnik has good reason to be optimistic for the future. While the women's fencing team suffered through a mediocre and somewhat disappointing season, finishing with an 8-8 record (2-3 Ivy League), the freshmen proved that they are a force to be reckoned with. The newcomers combined to win 63 percent of their total bouts. Leading the way was Staudinger, who finished the season with a 37-8 record, while winning 11 of her 15 Ivy League bouts. In just her first year, Staudinger has emerged as Penn's No. 1 foilist and will probably maintain that position for the next three years. Wertlieb, the other freshman foilist, also had a successful freshman campaign, winning 65 percent of her total bouts. Next year, when senior foilists Margo Katz and Amy Hozer will no longer be with the team, these two will be looked upon to carry the foil squad. The Quakers' epee squad has also been led by a rookie. Linton, who was an excellent high school fencer, has excelled this season, winning two-thirds of her bouts both overall and in Ivy League play. Blank, the other freshman epeeist, has also clearly helped the squad. In her limited role as a reserve, she has picked up eight victories for the Quakers, but she hopes to continue to develop and learn skills to make her a better fencer. While Blank is learning new techniques, fellow freshman Verigan is doing a different kind of learning -- she's learning how to fence a whole new weapon. A foilist throughout high school, Verigan decided to switch to sabre in the first year it would be allowed for women in collegiate competition. And Verigan, who has finished the season 26-21 overall with an 8-7 Ivy League record, is happy with her decision. "It's such an experience to be on the inaugural women's sabre team," she said. "I'm glad I made the change because, although it's challenging and at times very frustrating, I enjoy it more." Without a doubt, these five young ladies have created a nucleus and a great foundation for years to come. But while slashing away at the opposition is crucial to the freshmen's success, the most important aspect of their athletic life at Penn is the camaraderie and friendship that exists among the squad. "The fencing team is one big family," Linton said. "We are all so supportive of each other in everything, and we really enjoy each other's company." The young Quakers have grown very close indeed. "After seeing each other every weekend, smelling each other's funk and partying together after meets, I already feel close to the team after such a short amount of time," Blank said. With this strong solidarity, it seems that the Penn women's fencing team will be near the top of the league for years to come. "I think because of our friendships, we will have a successful future," Staudinger said. These five freshman will only get better and with one another at each other's side, there's no telling how far they'll go.

Little goes right for W. Fencing at Temple

(02/29/00 10:00am)

To say that the final dual meet of the season for the Penn women's fencing team began inauspiciously would be an understatement. It was an absolute disaster. After waking up at the crack of dawn, the Quakers met in Penn's fencing room only to discover that there was no bus going to Temple's McGonigle Hall, the site of the multi-meet. When the team finally arrived at the North Philadelphia campus, they had limited time to warm up for the stellar competition that they were about to face -- national powerhouses such as Columbia, Cornell, St. John's and defending national champion Penn State. "The bus was an hour late; we were missing teammates; we had no time to get into the gym to prepare ourselves physically and mentally for the day," senior captain Heba Abdulla said. But the Quakers would not use this as an excuse. "There are no excuses," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. "On the scoresheet, there's no column for excuse." To begin the day, the Red and Blue took the strip against Ivy League rival Columbia. The match was close through the first two rounds, but the Lions pulled away in the final round, besting the Quakers, 17-10. The Penn sabre squad was able to defeat Columbia, 5-4, behind two victories apiece from Abdulla and freshman Christina Verigan. But Columbia's foilists and epeeists were too strong for the Red and Blue as the Quakers fell in both weapons, 7-2 and 6-3, respectively. After the defeat, however, Penn bounced back to defeat Cornell in its final Ivy League dual meet of the season. While the sabres lost by a slight 5-4 margin, Penn's foilists and epeeists regrouped to lead the Quakers to victory. Penn's epee squad defeated the Big Red, 5-4, behind freshman Kim Linton and sophomore Mindy Nguyen, who won two bouts apiece. Penn's foilists, led by the strong performance of freshman Lauren Staudinger and senior Margo Katz -- who each went undefeated -- handed Cornell a 7-2 loss. This victory was especially important to the seniors because it was the last time in their careers they would fence Ancient Eight opponents. "It's always a good feeling to go undefeated, especially in a match that's close," Katz said. "And in this special circumstance, it feels really good because it's not only the last Ivy match of the season, but of my fencing career." The win over Cornell ended an Ivy season in which the Quakers finished with a mediocre 2-3 record. "I'm disappointed that we didn't do better," Micahnik said. "It's not what I would call a banner year." To end the day, Penn went up against Penn State and St. John's, two of the best fencing programs in the nation. The Red and Blue fell to the Nittany Lions, the five-time defending national champions, by a 24-3 margin as Staudinger, Linton and senior Sandra Yens picked up the lone victories for the Quakers. In the final match of the day, Penn was defeated by St. John's, 18-9. The Red Storm were led to victory by their powerful epee squad that was able to shut out the Quakers, 9-0, behind two-time epee national champion Arlene Stevens. The Penn sabres also came up short, falling 6-3 to a very strong sabre team. Penn sophomore Abby Lifter led the way, winning two of her three bouts. Penn's foil squad, however, was able to come away with a 6-3 win in their final dual meet of the regular season. Staudinger won all three of her bouts, and senior Amy Hozer won two out of three, including a 5-4 win in the final fencing bout of her career. Although Penn was only able to come away with one victory on the day, the Quakers realize that the level of competition was extremely tough. They also realize that everything comes down to next weekend, when they will fence in the IFA playoffs. "Everything that we've worked and trained for will matter the most this Saturday," Abdulla said.

W. Fencing eyes last multi-meet of year

(02/24/00 10:00am)

The Penn women's fencing team is about to undergo a changing of the guard. The Quakers, who field a squad with just two sophomores and no juniors, will begin to say goodbye to their four senior fencers this Saturday at Temple when the fourth-years compete in the final regular season meet of their careers. Their departure will leave the team in the capable hands of a strong nucleus of freshmen who have been successful all season long. Veterans and newcomers alike will need to be in top form as the Red and Blue square off against Columbia, Cornell, St. John's and Penn State in a multi-meet at McGonigle Hall. The competition should prove to be very tough for the Penn. In addition to Ivy League rivals Columbia and Cornell, the Quakers will also have to go up against five-time defending NCAA champion Penn State and another very strong team in the Red Storm. Needless to say, Penn will have its work cut out for it. "This weekend will be very difficult," senior captain Heba Abdulla said. "I'm optimistic, but the level of competition is definitely top-notch. We're going to have to take it very seriously and not let the little one-touch losses slip away." Penn coach Dave Micahnik, who also expects a very difficult match, stressed the importance of this meet due to its postseason implications. "We're going to have to fight them tooth and nail," he said. "It's important for our fencers to get every possible touch and every possible victory -- not just for this meet but for the postseason." The weekend after, Penn will travel to Yale for the IFAs, a 13-school postseason tournament, and their performance this weekend will affect their seeding. While each and every match in this meet is therefore important, the Quakers (7-5, 1-2 Ivy League) would like to win both of their Ivy League matches to finish with a winning league record. While the Quakers are expected to defeat the Big Red, they should have their work cut out for them against archrival Columbia, who has a very strong team this year. The meet is also doubly important due to the fact that it is the last for the seniors on the squad. Foilists Margo Katz and Amy Hozer, epeeist Sandra Yens and sabre Heba Abdulla will compete in their final dual meet at Penn and would like to end their careers with a strong showing. "I want to end really well for my last dual meet at Penn," Abdulla said. "I just want to do my best and give it my all. I'm sad to be retiring from fencing." In addition to their desire to give the seniors a good send-off, the Quakers should head into this weekend's meet well-rested. Nine of the 11 Penn fencers had the weekend off before going into the season finale. The other two, freshmen Lauren Staudinger and Christina Verigan, traveled across the country to compete against some of the best in the country. Staudinger and Verigan went to Sacramento, Calif., to fence in the under-20 Junior Olympics this past weekend. Both placed very well and came away with a valuable experience. Staudinger finished in the top 24 out of 150 foil fencers, but despite this strong placing, the star freshman was still rather disappointed with her results. She credited this to a lousy official in the first round, who may have cost her a higher placing. "If I would have had a better official in the first round, I would have had a higher seed and probably would have finished a lot better," Staudinger said. "It was a good result, but I think I could have done better.... But there's always next year." Verigan, in her first national tournament fencing sabre, placed in the top 32 out of 81 sabre fencers. By doing this, she got national points, meaning she will be an automatic qualifier for the summer nationals and next year's Junior Olympics. "It was a confidence builder and will motivate me to work harder," Verigan said. "It also makes me more sure of my decision to fence sabre, because I fenced foil for a while and never got national points." But Verigan quickly shied away from individual exposure, focusing more on the team's upcoming meet and season finale. "I'm looking forward to this Saturday -- everyone will be really pumped."

W. Fencing can't slash through Jadwin Jungle

(02/17/00 10:00am)

Princeton's fencers used their talent edge to deal Penn its second Ivy League loss. On Tuesday, Princeton's Jadwin Gymnasium was the place where the Penn men's basketball team dominated the Tigers and took control of the Ivy League race. Last night, however, Jadwin and the Tigers were not nearly as hospitable to their guests. The Penn women's fencing team fell to Princeton, 17-10, at Old Nassau, falling to 7-5 overall and 1-2 in Ivy League play. But unlike in men's basketball -- where a good percentage of knowledgeable observers knew that the Quakers were the better team going in -- it was quite apparent before the meet that the Tigers fencers were superior to Penn. "They have a very strong team, and tonight they just proved that they were stronger than us," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. After last night's victory, Princeton remains undefeated in Ivy League competition. The Tigers upped their record to 10-2 overall and 3-0 in the Ivies. The Orange and Black are obviously one of the strongest contenders to take home the Ancient Eight crown. Princeton -- a team that soundly defeated the Quakers 20-12 at home at Weightman Hall one year ago -- was led by sophomore epeeist Lindsay Campbell, who went undefeated for the Tigers. Many other Princeton fencers also won multiple bouts. The Quakers were defeated by the Orange and Black in all three weapons, losing close 5-4 decisions in both the foil and sabre and falling with the epee by a 7-2 margin. Sophomore Abby Lifter and freshman Christina Verigan won two bouts apiece to lead the sabre squad. Freshman foilist Lauren Staudinger also won two out of her three bouts for the Quakers, improving her overall record to an impressive 29-4, which means that she emerges victorious from a whopping 86.2 percent of her bouts. For the Penn epeeists, freshman Kim Linton and senior Sandra Yens each were able to come away with one win. Senior Margo Katz and freshman Stacey Wertlieb did the same for Penn's foil squad. None of the other Penn fencers, however, were able to overcome Princeton's powerful team as the Tigers came away with the seven-bout victory. "As a team, we were really together, and we went into the match mentally prepared," senior captain Heba Abdulla said. "But it wasn't enough -- they were too tough." With the defeat, Penn was virtually eliminated from a possible shot of taking the Ivy League crown. The Quakers will not, however, let the defeat get them down. They plan to remain optimistic as their season winds to a close. "We're disappointed, but we're not going to let this make us lose momentum," Abdulla said. "We still have important meets ahead of us, and the most important thing is not to lose momentum." After a weekend off, Penn will look to bounce back at the Temple Multi-Meet on Saturday, February 26. The Quakers then have IFAs at Yale before NCAA action starts in mid-March.

Penn fans enjoy the action on TV at McClelland Hall

(02/16/00 10:00am)

As Penn forward Ugonna Onyekwe spun full-circle in mid-air and slammed home a thunderous dunk to cap off a 55-46 Quakers victory and the Penn faithful stormed the floor of Jadwin Gymnasium, a deafening roar erupted approximately 50 miles southwest -- right in the Quadrangle. Approximately 100 Penn students who were not able to make the trek to Princeton were able to watch the Quakers live in action on two big screen televisions in McClelland Hall. The screening, organized by the Kite and Key Society, was intended to promote school spirit for those who couldn't make it across the Delaware. This marks the second consecutive year in which the Kite and Key Society has sponsored the event. Last March, roughly 1,000 students got together in the Palestra to watch the Red and Blue destroy Princeton and clinch the Ivy League title, but the arena was booked for a men's Big 5 game between St. Joseph's and La Salle last night. McClelland Hall was the new site the Kite and Key Society settled on. "Before last year, there was never a way to see the game, and there has always been a pretty big desire," said junior Anthony Gill, president of the Kite and Key Society. "People love basketball, and part of the reason you go to Penn is to see the Penn-Princeton game. It's great when everyone gets together to cheer for Penn." Watching the game and cheering for their home team were many Penn students who, for one reason or another, were not able to go to Princeton but still wished to watch the game with their friends and classmates. "I couldn't make the game because I had a midterm, so this is a great way for me to watch the game," Penn freshman and season-ticket holder Brett Topche said. "It's still a lot of fun to watch the game with a whole bunch of Penn fans. It's just a shame we can't heckle Princeton from here." The love of Princeton-bashing was shared by many in attendance. "I think it's great that the Penn community has the opportunity to come together and support the best team in the Ivy League when they're on the road," freshman Eric Mandel said. "There's nothing better than sitting back, relaxing and watching Penn abuse Princeton." Mandel's words were prophetic as the Quakers did exactly that, taking a commanding two-game lead in the Ivy League. And although they were not at the game, Penn fans at McClelland Hall cheered after every made basket, booed after every questionable call and went wild after the victory. These fans were not watching the game live in Jadwin Gymnasium, but for many, it was the next best thing.

Temple barely edges W. Fencing in another last-bout thriller

(02/15/00 10:00am)

It's becoming almost too easy to predict the end of a Penn women's fencing match. Almost every match seems to finish in down-to-the-wire, dramatic fashion. And at a multi-meet against Harvard, Johns Hopkins and host Temple on Saturday, the story was no different. It was deja-vu as the final match once again came down to the final touch in the final bout. And just like in Penn's first match of the season against Rutgers, freshman epeeist Kim Linton was on the strip fighting to preserve the victory for the Quakers. And once again, the star freshman came up just short, losing 5-4, as host Temple spoiled the Quakers' day, winning 14-13. Penn had previously been perfect on the afternoon, besting Harvard and Johns Hopkins. In stark contrast to the preceding meet, Penn's sabres carried the team and kept them in the match, winning seven of the nine bouts against the Owls. The foils were also able to come away with a win, defeating the host school, 5-4. However, Linton and the rest of the epee squad of senior Sandra Yens, sophomore Mindy Nguyen and freshman Julia Blank were overmatched and outplayed by the Owls, winning only one of their nine bouts. "If I thought this was indicative of the epee's level, I'd be very upset," Penn coach Dave Micahnik said. Although the day ended with a disappointing loss, the beginning of the meet was filled with victories and outstanding performances. To begin the meet, the Quakers defeated Ivy League rival Harvard 15-12, a task they failed to accomplish last season. "We refused to let them beat us again," senior captain Heba Abdulla said. "We came in thinking that we were going to get every touch, and it showed in our performance." Abdulla backed up her mouth by winning all three of her bouts and leading the sabre squad to a 7-2 victory over the Crimson. Fellow sabre fencers sophomore Abby Lifter and freshman Christina Verigan each only lost one of their three bouts. Penn's epeeists were defeated by the Crimson 6-3, but the Quakers foil squad of senior Margo Katz and freshmen Lauren Staudinger and Stacey Wertlieb were able to squeak by with a 5-4 victory. The foil win might have been by a larger margin if not for the strong performance of Harvard sophomore Emily Katz, sister of Penn senior Margo Katz. Emily, who did not fence her sister, stifled the Quakers foilists, giving Staudinger and Wertlieb their only losses and winning all three of her bouts for the Crimson. However, the younger Katz was glad she did not have to go against her older sister. "I'm thrilled I didn't have to face Margo," the younger Katz said. "She beat me last year, and I lost the family bragging rights. I didn't want to suffer the family humiliation again." After their victory over Harvard, the Quakers went on to trounce Johns Hopkins, 17-10. While Penn's foilists led the way, winning eight of their nine bouts against the Blue Jays, the epeeists also picked it up for this match, winning 6-3 behind freshmen Linton and Blank, who combined to go 5-0. Overall, the team was satisfied with their performance, especially that of the foils and sabres, who went 18-9 and 17-10 respectively on the day. "There were a couple of bouts here and there that we should have won, but overall the foilists did very well," Katz said. But the big surprise came with the strong performance of Penn's sabre fencers, who were severely overmatched just a week ago. "Overall, the sabres did well -- especially in our two most important matches against Temple and Harvard," Abdulla said. "We really pulled together?. We had that fire." But despite these many strong performances for Penn, the final loss gave Micahnik a sour feeling. "I'm very disappointed with the Temple loss," Micahnik said. "It's always close, but I'm sick and tired of losing close. "I'm hard to please -- I want them all," he continued. "I'm concerned about the season because this was a meet we should have won and we're losing bouts that we should win." Micahnik then turned his attention to Penn's upcoming matchup against Ivy League powerhouse Princeton. The Quakers and Tigers will do battle on Wednesday at Old Nassau. "I expect that match to be very difficult," Micahnik said. "We could pull it out, but they are very strong." Penn's head man also noted that Princeton's strong suit is its epee squad -- the same weapon with which Penn has been struggling. Nevertheless, the Quakers remain optimistic and truly believe they can defeat the Tigers. "If everyone comes together and wins as many bouts as they can, we can come back and beat Princeton this year after we lost to them last season," Katz said.