The Harvard softball team looks to claim its third straight Ivy League North Division championship as it takes on rival Dartmouth in a four-game series to close the league regular season.
The Crimson (25-14, 10-6 Ivy League) and Big Green (20-18, 11-5) meet for a doubleheader Saturday at Sachem Field in Hanover, N.H., before facing off in two more games Sunday at Soldiers Field. Both twinbills are scheduled for 2 p.m.
Dartmouth holds a one-game lead on Harvard and can clinch its first division crown with a series split, while Harvard needs three wins to claim its third title in the three-year history of divisional play. The division champion will take on South Division winner Cornell in the best-of-three Ivy League Championship May 2-3.
Harvard Athletics will take time at Sunday’s games to honor Hayley Bock and Bailey Vertovez, the Crimson’s captains and senior class. The duo has helped Harvard to a 100-75 overall record and a 44-26 Ivy League mark in their careers thus far. Bock has been a four-year starter behind the plate, while Vertovez has started the last two seasons at shortstop and contributed from various positions throughout her career.
Bock is Harvard’s all-time leader in throwing out would-be basestealers (33, entering the weekend), while both players have done the little things to help Harvard win two Ivy League North Division titles and one league championship in their careers. Vertovez ranks sixth on Harvard’s career list with 23 sacrifice bunts, while Bock has been hit by a school-record 27 times.
Follow From Home
Live stats for all four games will be available here on GoCrimson.com, accessible from the live stats page or the softball schedule page.
Last Time Out
Two freshman pitchers combined on a two-hitter, and other rookies accounted for three of Harvard’s five hits and all three of its runs in a 3-0 home win Thursday against Holy Cross. Rachel Brown struck out five and allowed one hit in four innings, before Julia Moore pitched three frames with one hit allowed to secure her first save. Marika Zumbro had two hits. Jane Alexander scored one run and drove in another and added a fine defensive play to help seal the win. Junior Stephanie Krysiak reached base three times.
Top of the Charts
With her seven strikeouts Thursday, Rachel Brown tied the Harvard single-season school record with 182 strikeouts this season. The total matches that recorded by Tasha Cupp in 1997. At 15-5, Brown ranks fourth on the Crimson’s season wins list, and she is already seventh on the program’s career strikeouts list.
Bailey Vertovez is the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week after leading Harvard to three Ivy League wins last week to bring the Crimson within one game of the division lead. She held or shared the team lead in batting (.692, 9 for 13), slugging (1.000), on-base percentage (.765), runs (six) and doubles (four). The West Islip, N.Y., native started every game at shortstop and ranked second on the team with six RBI and four walks. Vertovez registered at least one hit and one run in each of the Crimson's five games and had two hits in each of the team's four Ivy League contests.
The selection of Bailey Vertovez was the Crimson’s first Player of the Week honor this season but the seventh time Harvard has received a weekly honor from the Ivy League in six eligible weeks. Rachel Brown has twice been named Ivy Pitcher of the Week and has been the league’s Rookie of the Week two times. Whitney Shaw has earned rookie honors once, and junior Margaux Black was recognized as the league’s top pitcher last week.
At 1.72 and 1.91, respectively, Rachel Brown and Margaux Black rank third and fourth in the Ivy League in league earned-run average. Harvard ranks second in Ivy pitching with a 2.42 staff ERA and shares the league lead with 95 strikeouts, including an Ivy-best 74 from Brown. Emily Henderson is the Ancient Eight’s top base-stealer with eight, twice as many as any other individual in the league. She is also tied for seventh in league batting at .383, while the Crimson’s .289 team average ranks fourth.
Crimson Statistical Leaders
Jennifer Francis owns Harvard’s top overall batting average at .308, one point higher than Whitney Shaw. Shaw is the team leader in on-base percentage (.462), slugging percentage (.545) and RBI (22, one more than Francis). Emily Henderson has been successful in 14 of her 18 overall steal attempts, good for the overall league lead, while Ellen Macadam has stolen eight bags. It’s Macadam with the edge in runs, though, pacing the Crimson with 23, one more than Henderson and three ahead of Hayley Bock.
Rachel Brown leads Harvard with a 1.37 overall ERA. Julia Moore owns a 2.17 ERA in 23 innings of work, while Dana Roberts has a 3.17 mark in 17.2 innings. Moore has not allowed a run in any of her last three appearances, totaling six innings in that span, with three hits allowed and five strikeouts.
Harvard is 5-3 against Dartmouth since the inception of divisional play. The Crimson took three of four games in a wild series against the Big Green in 2007, giving Harvard the inaugural North Division crown and homefield advantage in the championship series. Last year’s series split left the division-champion Crimson five games ahead of Dartmouth in the final league standings. The teams traded road sweeps, with the Big Green winning, 8-3 and 4-3, in the series’ first two games and the Crimson taking the last two, 4-2 and 5-2. Emily Henderson led Harvard’s twinbill sweep with a 4-for-7 day at the plate, two runs and two steals.
Scouting the Big Green
Dartmouth won six of its first seven Ivy League games and has not yet lost a league doubleheader. However, the Big Green has split four of its last five Ivy twinbills and is coming off a 2-1 loss Thursday at Vermont. In Ivy play, Dartmouth has the league’s second-leading batting average (.310) and its third-best ERA (2.99). Ashley Gleason ranks 10th in Ivy hitting .368, while Molly Khalil is the squad’s top overall hitter at .325 and paces the Big Green with four home runs and 32 RBI. Devin Lindsay owns a team-best 8-6 record, but it is rookie Hillary Barker (7-10) who leads the team in overall ERA (3.48), Ivy ERA (2.53) and strikeouts (67).
Around the League
Cornell has already locked up the South Division title with a 13-3 league record, but second-place Princeton could spoil the Big Red’s bid for homefield advantage in the Ivy League Championship by taking at least three games from Cornell this weekend. Columbia needs a sweep of Penn to take a share of third place in that division, while Brown can share third in the North with Yale by beating the Bulldogs in three of four.
The Crimson is scheduled to close its regular season Thursday at Boston University in what the team hopes will be a tuneup for the Ivy League Championship.