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Softball Faces Princeton, Cornell in Ivy League Action This Weekend

The Crimson hosts a pair of Ivy League doubleheaders this weekend (photo courtesy Gil Talbot).

Storyline
The Harvard softball team hosts its first Ivy League games of the year with a pair of doubleheaders this weekend at Soldiers Field. The Crimson (9-15, 2-2 Ivy) takes on Princeton (18-9, 3-1 Ivy) on Friday, April 5, at 2 p.m., before hosting Cornell (12-14, 2-2 Ivy) on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Follow the Action
A live video stream will be available through GoCrimson.com by clicking video. Live stats will also be available.

Last Time Out
For the second time in her career, junior Kasey Lange hit two home runs in a single game, but the Harvard softball team stranded 14 runners Tuesday in a 5-3 loss to Providence at Soldiers Field. The Crimson fell to 9-15 on the year despite collecting 13 hits on the day, while Providence improved to 10-17-1.

Related Link: Providence Edges Softball, 5-3, Despite Lange's Two Long Balls

Series History
This weekend marks the 64th and 65th contests on the diamond against both opponents for Harvard. The Crimson trails, 22-41, in the all-time series with Princeton, but owns a 6-1 mark in the last seven meetings. Harvard has shutout Princeton in one game each year since 2009. Last season, the Crimson toppled the Tigers, 8-0 and 8-6.

Harvard leads the all-time series with Cornell, 39-23. Since 2011, the Crimson is 4-2 versus the Big Red, with two shutout victories. Last year, Harvard won a 6-2, eight-inning battle, but fell, 10-8, on the road in Ithaca.
 

A Look at Harvard
Harvard is currently tied for fourth place in the Ivy League standings with a 2-2 conference mark and a 9-15 overall record. Entering the weekend, the Crimson is second in the league with 23 stolen bases, fourth in the league in batting average (.263) and fielding percentage (.958) and fifth in earned run average (3.65 ERA) and slugging percentage (.361).

At the plate, Kasey Lange ranks second in the Ancient Eight with eight home runs through 24 games this season. The junior is fourth in slugging percentage (.708), fifth in runs batted in (19), third in total bases (51) and ninth in on-base percentage (.417). Sophomore Andrea Del Conte is second in the Ivy with eight stolen bases, while junior Shelbi Olson rates seventh in the same statline with four.

From the circle, freshman Morgan Groom's opponents' batting average of .199 is second best among Ivy hurlers. Groom's 4.40 innings pitched per game and 53 strikeouts are fifth best in the league and five complete games is ninth. Fellow rookie Jamie Halula's one save is tied for third in the conference, while her opponent batting average of .270 is ninth.

Scouting Princeton
Princeton is 4-1 over its last five games, shutting out Brown in its Ivy opener, 8-0 and 5-0, splitting with Yale, 6-1 and 2-3 (8 inn.), and defeating Villanova, 4-1, on Tuesday. Friday's game opens a nine-game road trip for the Tigers.

The Tigers lead the Ivy League South Division at 3-1 entering this weekend. Princeton tops the conference in batting average (.312), ERA (2.22), slugging percentage (.470), on-base percentage (.382), runs scored (148), RBI (132), home runs (23). Princeton has struck out a league-best 147 batters and given up 56 earned runs.

Alyssa Schmidt (.433), Rachel Rendina (.371), Candy Button (.363) and Alex Peyton (.353) rank among the top 10 batting averages in the conference. Schmidt (.642), Peyton (.635) and Button (.575) are also among the league's best slugging percentages, while Peyton's 25 RBI and Button's 21 RBI top the conference. 

Time in the circle has been split fairly evenly between Shanna Christian, Peyton and Liza Kuhn. Christian's 1.77 ERA is second best in the Ivy League, while Peyton's 1.93 ERA is fifth. Kuhn leads the team with 51 strikeouts.

Scouting Cornell
The Big Red is 12-14 on the year and 2-2 in the Ivy League. Cornell is 4-2 in the last six contests and will meet Dartmouth on Friday, before heading to Cambridge for Saturday's matchup with the Crimson. 

Cornell is among the league's best hitting units, registering a .314 batting average, with eight mainstays in the lineup batting .300 or better. Junior Christian Villalon paces the squad at .405, with a team-best 20 RBI to go with eight doubles, four home runs and a .676 slugging percentage. Senior Erin Belles has two home runs and is hitting .455 over the last six games.

Junior Alyson Onyon has tossed 10 complete games en route to a 9-7 record, while holding opponents to a .251 batting average. Onyon has 84 strikeouts in 110.2 innings.

Records Watch
Junior Kasey Lange is four home runs shy of breaking Tiffany Whitton's home run record. Whitton smashed 28 long balls from 1999-2003 for the Crimson and Lange notched her 25th homer against Providence this past Tuesday.

Up Next
Harvard resumes Ivy League play on Saturday with a doubleheader against Cornell at 12:30 p.m.