Emily Gusse leads the Crimson in slugging percentage at .692 (Tim Bradbury).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The final weekend of the Ivy League softball regular season pits the top two teams in the North Division against each other in a four-game set, with the division title still up for grabs. Dartmouth (21-14), with a 14-2 conference record, has a three-game lead on Harvard (21-19, 11-5 Ivy) with the two squads scheduled to meet in Hanover, New Hampshire for the series' first two games Saturday at 2 p.m. before wrapping up with a second doubleheader at Soldiers Field in Cambridge Sunday at 2 p.m.
Ivy League Championship Series
For the Crimson to earn the North Division title, and a spot in the Ivy League Championship Series next weekend, it will need to sweep the Big Green over the weekend. In the south division, Penn is the leader heading into the season's final weekend. The Quakers hold a 10-6 conference record, ahead of Princeton's 8-7 mark. Penn will play a home-and-home series against Columbia, while Princeton is slated to take on Cornell. The Tigers also have a suspended game against Yale on the schedule that will be completed if it will have an impact on the final standings. Princeton trails Yale, 5-0, in the fifth inning of that contest.
The Crimson enters the weekend winners in four of its last five games. Last weekend at home against Yale, Harvard won the first three games of the series before dropping the finale to the Bulldogs. In a bounce back effort, the Crimson toppled Bryant on Tuesday, 9-3.
Pitching could prove to be the deciding factor in the weekend series, as both teams have two hurlers that rank among the top-10 in the Ancient Eight in ERA. For Harvard, senior Laura Ricciardone ranks third with a 2.39 ERA. She also ranks second in victories with 11, pitching the fourth-most innings at 102.1. With a 3.29 ERA, junior Morgan Groom ranks 10th in the Ivy League, but her 6.24 strikeouts per game mark stands fifth.
Offensively, Harvard ranks number one in the Ivy League in runs scored (197), hits (312), RBI (177), triples (10), walks (107) and steals (62). Andrea Del Conte has been the primary source of stolen bases for the Crimson, racking up a career-high 20 this season. With 51 in her career, she ranks fifth all-time in the Harvard record books. Fellow seniors Katherine Lantz, Katherine Appelbe and Emily Gusse continue to have strong final seasons for Harvard. Lantz paces the squad with a .375 batting average and 27 RBI. Appelbe, despite battling an injury, ranks third in batting average among starters at .345, while Gusse's .692 slugging mark and eight doubles lead the Crimson.
Dartmouth is the only other team with more than 20 wins to this point in the season. With a 13-1 record over its last 14 games, the Big Green is 21-14. Its lone loss since March 27 was a 9-0 downing this past Saturday at home against Brown.
The Big Green boasts the top hitter and pitcher in the Ivy League this season. Shortstop Katie McEachern is pacing the conference with a .443 average, 10 home runs and is tied for second with 28 RBI. In the circle, Kristen Rumley has the low ERA at 2.21, leads the League in wins with 13 and ranks seconds with 114 strikeouts. Rumley is also the second ranked hitter in the Dartmouth lineup in terms of batting average, posting a .367 mark. Morgan McCalmon bolsters the Big Green pitching staff with an 8-3 record and a 2.83 ERA, the sixth-lowest in the conference.