Ivy Home Opening Weekend Sees Softball Host Penn, Columbia

Ivy Home Opening Weekend Sees Softball Host Penn, Columbia

Harvard looks for its first Ivy League victory this weekend as it hosts Penn and Columbia (Kevin Burns).

The Particulars
Following a two-game sweep of local non-conference foe Boston College Tuesday, the Harvard softball  team will open its Ivy League home schedule this weekend when it hosts Penn Friday and Columbia Saturday at Soldiers Field. Friday's doubleheader begins at 2 p.m., while Saturday's action kicks off at 12:30 p.m.

Follow From Home
For the second straight season, Harvard home Ivy League contests will be streamed live, and will be featured on the Ivy League Digital Network. The games will be streamed in HD quality with color and play-by-play analysts and subscribers to the network can watch games both live and on-demand at their convenience. Streaming subscribers will have access to live and on-demand content for all Harvard athletic events through the duration of their subscription.

For those looking to purchase a subscription to the Ivy League Digital Network, click here.

Last Time Out
Late-inning heroics from Adrienne Hume, Kasey Lange and Katherine Lantz allowed the Harvard softball team to sweep local rival Boston College for the first time in 15 years, capturing wins of 4-2 and 4-3 (6) Tuesday at Soldiers Field.

Katherine Lantz led off the bottom of the seventh in Game 1 with a single up the middle and Adrienne Hume quickly knotted the score with a two-run blast over the left-centerfield wall. Laura Ricciardone struck out in the next at-bat, but reached base when the ball evaded the Eagles' catcher. BC got one out in the inning, but senior slugger Kasey Lange provided the walk-off blow, blasting an offering over the left-centerfield wall to end the game in dramatic fashion, 4-2.

Harvard took the lead for good in the bottom of the fifth in Game 2, posting three hits and two runs. Shelbi Olson led off with a double to right-center, and scored easily when Lange pummeled a double past the first baseman and into the right field corner. With two outs in the inning, Lantz fouled off a number of pitches before slapping a single through the middle, allowing Lange to score the winning run. Pitcher Taylor Cabe shut down the Eagles in the top of the sixth, and the game was called before Harvard's next at-bat due to darkness.

Series History
Harvard holds a significant advantage in the all-time series with Penn, posting 50 victories in 65 contests in a series that dates back to 1981. Penn took the first two meetings between the squads, but a stretch of 17 straight wins from 1994 to 2002 allowed Harvard to take a sizeable lead in the all-time series. The Crimson posted three straight sweeps of the Quakers from 2011-12, including in the 2012 Ivy League Championship Series, but the Quakers swept the Crimson last season in Philadelphia en route to claiming the Ivy League title.

While Harvard and Columbia have faced off just 28 times, the Crimson has picked up 20 victories to hold a sizeable lead in the all-time series. The teams first met in 2001, splitting the inaugural doubleheader in Cambridge. The Crimson is currently riding an eight-game winning streak against the Lions, having last lost to Columbia in 2009.

About The Crimson
With Mother Nature preventing the Crimson from completing its Ivy opening weekend, Harvard hopes to log its first full league games of the 2014 season this weekend.

Senior Kasey Lange enters the weekend as Harvard's top hitter in a number of categories, including batting average (.367), runs (18), doubles (7), home runs (4) and RBI (21). Lange also shares the team lead in hits (29) with fellow senior captain Shelbi Olson. Junior Emily Gusse has proven to be a valuable run producer with 13 RBI and Andrea Del Conte leads all Harvard players with eight steals on the year. The 1-2 pitching punch of Laura Ricciardone and Taylor Cabe has proven to be effective, as the two have combined to throw 137 of the 172 innings Harvard has played. Ricciardone boasts a 2.38 earned-run average and 47 strikeouts, while Cabe is close behind with a 2.54 ERA and 34 K's. Sophomore Morgan Groom has also been strong in her seven appearances, holding a 2.13 ERA and 26 punch-outs.

Scouting Penn
The defending Ivy champs enter the weekend with a 7-11 overall record, but picked up a pair of league wins last weekend.

Leah Allen has led the way offensively for the Quakers through 18 games, leading the squad with a .377 batting average, 14 runs, 23 hits, four doubles and 17 RBI. She is also tied for first in home runs (4) and steals (4), and is the only player on the Penn roster to have played in all 18 games this season. The Quakers boast a potent 1-2 punch in the circle with Alexis Sargent and Alexis Borden accounting for the majority of the innings. Sargent leads the staff with a 1.14 earned-run average and four victories, while Borden holds a 1.99 ERA and a team-high 67 strikeouts.

Scouting Columbia
The Lions are out to a fast start in Ivy League play, sweeping a pair of series over Brown and Yale last weekend. Columbia begins the weekend with a 14-10 record, and is nearly unbeaten at home with a 12-1 record.

A balanced offense has been Columbia greatest strength so far this season, as five hitters boast batting average above .300 and 20 or more hits. Shelby Unger leads the quintet with a .364 BA and 17 RBI, and is one of four Columbia players with three home runs to her credit. Emily Snodgrass is close behind at .353 and a team-high tying five steals, while Alix Cook leads all players with 27 hits on the season. Emily Kenyon and Brooke Darling have thrown most of the innings for the Lions, with Kenyon entering the weekend with a 2.40 ERA and Darling holding the team lead in K's with 39.

Up Next
The Crimson will step back out of league action Tuesday for a doubleheader at Rhode Island, beginning at 3 p.m.