Ricciardone Earns Two Wins as Softball Sweeps Cornell

Laura Ricciardone won both games in the circle Friday for Harvard (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Hosting its first Ivy League series of the season, Harvard softball (12-15, 3-3 Ivy) gave its home fans reason to cheer, defeating the visiting Cornell Big Red (8-13, 2-4 Ivy), 7-0 and 5-3.

Following a complete game victory in game one, senior pitcher Laura Ricciardone came on in relief in the second game to pick up the win. She helped her own cause in the game two triumph, launching her first home run of the season in the bottom of the sixth. Katherine Lantz homered in the opening game, a two-run shot, and kicked in a two-RBI single in game two.

Harvard 7, Cornell 0
The Crimson plated three runs in the bottom of the first and second innings, before adding its final tally in the bottom of the sixth, shutting out Cornell, 7-0. Lantz led Harvard, going 2-for-4 with a two-run home run, while shortstop Emily Gusse reached base safely four times with two walks and a 2-for-2 showing at the dish. She also drove in a run and scored once.

Lantz's run production came through for Harvard in the bottom of the first. With Andrea Del Conte on base after a Cornell fielding error, Lantz sent a 1-2 pitch over the left center wall to make it 2-0 Crimson. Gusse accounted for Harvard's third run of the inning when she scored during a double steal situation.

Cornell was in position to cut into the lead in the top of the second with runners on the corners and just one out, but a strikeout from Ricciardone and a great play in the field during a rundown to get Megan Murray out ended the threat.

Zoe Galindo led off the bottom of the second with a walk on a full count and then Maddy Kaplan legged out a bunt single. Del Conte proceeded to rip a single back up the middle to score Galindo. A Lantz bunt single loaded the bases with Gusse's single to right center in the next at bat scoring Kaplan. Haley Davis followed that up with an RBI of her own on a ground out, extending the Harvard lead to 6-0 after just two frames.

In the bottom of the fourth, pinch hitter Alexa Altchek drove in the game's final run. A deep fly ball to center allowed Dallas Hogan, pinch running for Gusse, to tag up and score. Ricciardone gave up just three hits the rest of the way to earn her sixth win of the year.

Harvard 5, Cornell 3
Game two was a more closely contested game with Cornell taking the first lead in the third and then tying it up again in the fifth, before the Crimson could pull away with a run in both the bottom of the fifth and sixth. Both teams had their fair-share of scoring chances throughout, with Harvard stranding nine runners, while seven Big Red base runners never came around to score.

The top of the order was strong for Harvard, as Del Conte walked twice, went 1-for-1 and scored twice, Lantz drove in two runs and Gusse went 2-for-3.

Innings one and two passed without either team scoring, but Cornell's starting pitcher, Meg Parker, took matters into her own hands in the top of the third with a two-run shot to center.

Harvard bounced right back in the bottom of the inning with three runs of its own. With the bases loaded and one out, Lantz cracked a single up the middle, scoring Kaplan and Galindo. In the next at bat, Lantz got caught in a rundown between first and second, allowing Del Conte the opportunity to race home from third without a play at the plate.

Errors by both teams in the fifth allowed Cornell to first tie the game up, 3-3, in the top half, before Harvard reclaimed the lead for good in the bottom half. Murray scored all the way from first on a ball that got past a Crimson outfielder, equalizing the game for the Big Red. A miscommunication on a double-steal play by the Cornell defense though, led to its own error and Del Conte capitalized on the opportunity with her second run scored.

Ricciardone, who had come on to pitch with two outs in the top of the fifth, provided Harvard with an insurance run when she rocketed the first pitch she saw in the sixth over the left center wall.

Harvard is back at it Saturday at 12:30 p.m. with two games scheduled against Princeton. The Tigers dropped a pair of games Friday at Dartmouth.