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Win Streak On The Line As Softball Travels to Rhode Island Thursday

The Crimson looks for its fifth straight win against the Rams Thursday in Rhode Island (Harvard Athletic Communications).

The Particulars

Riding a seven-game win streak, the Harvard softball team steps out of conference action Thursday when it will travel to Rhode Island to take on the Rams in a single game.
 
The Series
Harvard holds the all-time lead in the series with the Rams, 19-7. The two teams first faced each other in a doubleheader in 1996, with Harvard taking the inaugural matchup, 6-3, and URI taking Game 2, 7-0. The Crimson enters Thursday's action having captured the last four meetings between the two teams, sweeping doubleheaders in Cambridge in 2011 and 2013.
 
Last Time Out
The Harvard softball team extended its winning streak to seven games, and head coach Jenny Allard collected wins No. 499 and 500 for her career, as the Crimson swept Columbia, 7-2 and 6-2, Sunday in an Ivy doubleheader.
 
The Crimson let one inning go by before putting its foot on the gas in Game 1, bringing in seven runs between the second and third innings to grab a commanding lead. Laura Ricciardone did well to pitch around the occasional Columbia base hit, and just two unearned runs came home in the top of the fifth for Columbia. She finished with seven strikeouts on the day and allowed just six hits and one walk. The Crimson collected nine hits in the game, including multi-hit games from Katherine Lantz, Catherine Callaway and Andrea Del Conte.
 
Harvard broke through late in Game 2 as Shelbi Olson led off the fifth with a strong single to center and Kasey Lange was intentionally walked to put two on with one out. Lantz battled through a gutsy at-bat, fouling off a handful of pitches before smashing a double to left center that brought home two runs to tie the score. Emily Gusse turned on the first offering from relief pitcher Kayla Maloney, plating Lantz with an RBI single for the go-ahead run. Callaway padded the lead with a two-run double to left, giving the hosts a 5-2 lead after five full frames. Ricciardone was strong in relief, keeping the Lions off the board through the final frames, and Lantz poked another RBI double in the sixth to bring home Harvard's sixth and final run.
 
Scouting Rhode Island
The Rams come into Thursday with a 9-20 overall record, but have defended their home turf well with a 4-2 home record through six games. In its most recent action, Rhode Island took both sides of a doubleheader with St. Joseph's Saturday, 2-1 and 6-3.
 
Taylor Archer leads a balanced URI offense with a .288 batting average and 19 hits, and is tied for the team lead in RBI with Jocelyn Mattison (12). Stacey Fox has crossed the plate more than any other member of the Rams (13) and is also a perfect 3-for-3 in stolen bases this season. Sam Bedore serves as the staff ace for URI, accounting for 80.2 of 182 innings pitched this year. She leads the team with a 3.21 earned-run average and 75 strikeouts.
 
About Harvard
It has been a series of well-rounded efforts that has allowed Harvard to win seven straight games, as the Crimson is averaging over six runs a game during that stretch, while allowing just more than two per contest. Harvard is also one of just two Ivy teams that is still undefeated in league play (Dartmouth, 8-0).
 
Shelbi Olson is one of the hottest players on the squad, bringing an eight-game hitting streak into the matchup with the Rams. Katherine Lantz also had a great last week of play for Harvard, collecting six hits in five games, including three doubles in a doubleheader sweep of Columbia Sunday. Kasey Lange continues to lead the team in RBI, but five others have joined her in the double-digit RBI column: Emily Gusse (14), Catherine Callaway (12), Lantz (12), Adrienne Hume (11) and Olson (11). Laura Ricciardone continues to highlight the pitching staff with a 9-5 record, 2.12 ERA and 64 strikeouts.
 
Up Next
The Crimson returns home this weekend for its first taste of Ivy North Division action. Harvard will host Brown Saturday and Sunday in a pair of Ivy twinbills.