Softball Throttles Yale in Game One, Comes-From-Behind for Game Two Victory Saturday

Ricciardone hit a grand slam and won both games in the circle Saturday (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard softball (19-18, 10-4 Ivy) got back in the win column with two triumphs over rival Yale Saturday. In a tale of two different games, the first saw the Crimson rack up nine runs in the first inning as it cruised to a 10-1 victory. The second game was more closely contested, with three lead changes and one tie, but Harvard was able to overcome a 4-2 deficit to capture a 6-5 win.

On a special day for senior pitcher Laura Ricciardone, she earned wins in the circle in both games and also launched a grand slam in the first game. Prior to the game, the Crimson held a ceremonial first pitch in honor of Laura's mother, Lisa, an ardent Harvard softball fan, who succumbed to her three-year battle with colon cancer in the fall. Riccardone's father received the pitch.

Harvard inched closer to North Division leader Dartmouth Saturday. With Harvard's two wins and Dartmouth splitting with Brown, the Big Green's lead in the standings is down to just two games with six Ivy League contests remaining. Harvard and Yale are back at it for two more games Sunday afternoon beginning at 12:30 p.m. at Soldiers Field, while Dartmouth and Brown square off again in Hanover, New Hampshire. Harvard and Dartmouth are slated for a home-and-home series to end the regular season next weekend.

Harvard 10, Yale 1
Power hitting proved to be the catalyst for a stellar first inning for the Crimson, as Ricciardone hit a grand slam and Katie Lantz crushed a three-run shot to give Harvard a 9-0 lead. Contributing the final two runs of the opening frame was Haley Davis with a two-RBI single. She would end the game 3-for-3, while also coming in to score once.

Yale's only run of the contest came in the top of the third. With runners on first and second after two fielding errors by Harvard, Sarah Onorato hit a double to center to score Sydney Glover.

The unearned run was the only blemish for Ricciardone, who allowed only three hits in three innings. Gabrielle Ruiz came on in relief in the fourth and pitched two strong innings, giving up just one hit to keep the Bulldogs at bay.

Harvard tacked on the game's final run in the bottom of the fourth. Andrea Del Conte singled to load the bases and Maddy Kaplan followed suit with her own single to left, forcing home pinch-runner Rachel Halperin.

Harvard 6, Yale 5
The second game proved to be a back-and-forth endeavor, with the lead changing three times and tying once, while the squads combined for 22 hits and 11 runs. Freshman Kaplan was outstanding at the dish, going 4-for-4, scoring twice and driving in the Crimson's winning run in the bottom of the sixth on a two-RBI double to center.

Starting pitchers Taylor Cabe and Francesca Casalino each had strong starts to the game. Through two innings, Caslino tallied three strikeouts, while Cabe moved swiftly through the top of the third by striking out the side.

Harvard's bats were the first to come alive in the bottom of the third, driving in a pair of runs. Shortstop Emily Gusse made the first change to the score, ripping a double to left center that brought around Del Conte. Ricciardone followed that up with an RBI on an infield groundout to score Kaplan.

Yale's offense got in a rhythm for the first time Saturday in the top of the fourth, scoring four times to take its first lead of the day. Camille Weisenbach drove in the first run with a double to left center, which was followed up by Rachel Paris' two-RBI single to center. Following a pitching change, Paris came in to score two batters later, giving Yale a 4-2 lead.

The Crimson got back to even in the bottom of the fifth. With two down and two on, Haley Davis roped a double to deep left field that scored Dallas Hogan and Kaplan. In the next frame, it would be Kaplan to come through with two outs, giving Harvard the lead back. Pinch-runner Halperin stood on second and Del Conte occupied first with Kaplan at the dish. The rookie sensation laced a double to the center field wall, giving the two speedy base runners time to come around to score.

The Bulldogs made it just a one-run deficit, opening the top of the seventh with an Allison Skinner homer, but Ricciardone, who came on in relief in the fourth, notched her third strikeout and a groundout to end the game.