Championship Rematch: Softball Hosts Cornell in Ivy League Championship Series

Harvard will play for its fifth Ivy League title this weekend
Harvard will play for its fifth Ivy League title this weekend

The Particulars
The Harvard softball team (34-14, 18-2 Ivy) looks to claim its fifth Ivy League Championship, and first since 2007, when it welcomes defending Ivy champion and 2011 South Division Champion Cornell (27-20-1, 12-7 Ivy) to Soldiers field for the 2011 Ivy League Championship Series. The teams will play a best-two-of-three format, squaring off in a doubleheader Saturday and, if necessary, a single game Sunday. Saturday's action will begin at 1 p.m., with Game 2 starting 30 minutes after the end of the first game. Sunday's game would also be a 1 p.m. start.

Watch From Home
Fans can watch the Ivy League Championship Series live via a free webstream which can be accessed through the Ivy League website. Live stats will also be available for all the games through the league website, or by clicking here.

Harvard In The Championship Series
Since the beginning of divisional play in the Ivy League in 2007, Harvard has represented the North Division in the Championship Series four of the five years. The Crimson captured the first Ivy League title to be determined by a championship series, sweeping Penn, 4-0 and 4-2, in 2007. Princeton took down the Crimson in two games the following season, and in 2009, Dartmouth edged out Harvard for the North Division crown.

2010 saw Harvard reclaim the North Division title, but the Crimson went on to fall in three games to Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y., in a thrilling series.  A two-run sixth inning helped the host Big Red claim a 3-1 victory in the opener, putting Harvard on the ropes in Game 2. A closely contested game went into extra frames but the hosts grabbed a 2-1 edge heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. With two outs, Marika Zumbro kept the Harvard hopes alive with a base hit and Jessica Pledger '10 followed with a single to third, bringing Jennifer Francis '10 to the plate.

After taking a strike, Francis belted the 0-1 offering over the center field fence for a three-run, walk-off homerun, knotting the series at 1-1. A Whitney Shaw solo blast in the fourth inning of Game 3 tied the score at 2-2 but a Marissa Amiraian RBI infield single proved to be the game-winner as the Big Red earned a 3-2 victory in the rubber match.

About the Crimson
Harvard, which tied an Ivy record with 18 league wins, enters the 2011 Ivy Championship Series on a nine-game home win streak, having last lost at Soldiers Field April 9 to Cornell. Overall, Harvard is 12-2 at home on the season.

Co-captain and second baseman Ellen Macadam leads the Crimson in a number of offensive categories as a prime contender for the Ivy League Player of the Year award. She leads the team, and the Ivy League, in hits (75) and runs scored (51), and is second in the league in batting average (.449) and RBI (35). Her hits and runs-scored totals also represent new single-season program highs.

Freshman third baseman Kasey Lange looks to be a prime candidate for league Rookie of the Year, setting new standards for the Crimson in the power categories. She leads the league and set a new school record with 64 RBI, and her 20 doubles also represent a new school record and a league-leading total. She currently ranks second on the team and third in the league in batting average (.436), and her 11 home runs are a season high for the Crimson.

Junior pitcher Rachel Brown was one of the most dominant pitchers in the league, racking up a school-record 20 wins and setting a new Ivy League record with 274 strikeouts on the season. Freshman hurler Laura Ricciardone was rock solid as the No. 2 starter, compiling 12 wins and posting just 19 walks in 114 innings.  

About the Big Red
Cornell earned its third consecutive Ivy South Division title, thanks to a win over second-place Penn Thursday in Philadelphia. The Big Red entered Thursday's doubleheader with a two-game lead over Penn in the conference standings, needing just one victory to lock up the division title, and downed the Quakers, 1-0, behind a two-hit shutout from star pitcher Elizabeth Dalrymple.  

Dalrymple has been the driving force for Cornell this season, compiling 19 wins and a sub-2.00 earned-run average in 188 innings pitched. The reigning Ivy Pitcher of the Year boasted the top ERA in the league in 2011 and started a league-high 28 games.

Leadoff hitter Marissa Amiraian has served as the offensive sparkplug for the Big Red, carrying a .413 batting average in to the championship series to go along with team-high totals of 66 hits, seven triples and a .492 on-base percentage. Jenny Edwards picked up her team-leading 29th RBI on the game-winning single against Penn Thursday, and Kristen Towne is close behind with 27 on the season.  

The 2011 Regular Season
The Crimson set a number of new standards during the 2011 season. Its 34 wins on the season ties a program record, and its Ivy League mark of 18-2 represents the most league wins in a season in the history of the team. Harvard was undefeated on the road in league action this season and went a perfect 12-0 against Ivy North Division opponents for the first time in the history of divisional play. The Crimson also invoked the eight-run rule seven times in Ivy play and 10 times overall, both program-best totals.

Harvard Nationally
Some of the numbers put up by the 2011 Crimson rank among the national leaders. Here's a look at some of Harvard's top marks:

Ellen Macadam, Senior, Second Base:

- 12th in batting average (.449)
- 10th in triples (5)
- 18th in runs scored per game (1.06)
Kasey Lange, Freshman, Third Base:
- Second in doubles per game (0.42)
- Third in sacrifice flies (5)
- Fifth in RBI per game (1.33)
- 24th in batting average (.436)
- 30th in slugging percentage (.805)
Rachel Brown, Junior, Pitcher:
- Fourth in strikeouts per game (11.4)
- 13th in total strikeouts (274)
- 23rd in hits allowed per game (4.54)
- 34th in victories (20)
Laura Ricciardone, Freshman, Pitcher:
- 15th in walks allowed per game (1.17)