STATESBORO, Ga. – The Harvard softball team (3-3) dropped a pair of games Saturday at the Eagle Classic. The Crimson fell in a nail-biter in its first game at the tournament to Eastern Kentucky, 7-6, before dropping a 12-2 decision to host Georgia Southern.
Eastern Ky. 7, Harvard 6
Harvard and Eastern Kentucky (12-3) went head-to-head in a close battle Saturday afternoon, but a RBI single in the top of the seventh by Rachel Minogue gave the Colonels a 7-6 victory in the Crimson's first game of the Eagle Classic.
Freshman Rhianna Rich continued the impressive start to her Harvard career, batting 3-for-4. Giana Panariello batted in two runs to lead Harvard. Morgan Groom came on in relief and struck out six in 4.2 innings, but suffered the loss. Hayley Flynn picked up the win for EKU, not allowing an earned run in five innings of work.
The Colonels got out to a 5-0 lead through the first three innings, plating three in the second and two in the third. EKU capped the stretch with a two-run homer by Sarah Hobbs in the third.
Harvard cut into the lead with a trio of runs of its own in the bottom of the third on two EKU errors. Rich scored the first run when she was able to come home on a throwing error by Flynn on a sacrifice bunt by Maddy Kaplan. Zoe Galindo and Kaplan represented Harvard next two runs, scoring on a throwing error by the EKU right fielder after a Panariello single.
The Crimson made it a one-run contest in the fifth when Dallas Hogan scored on another fielding error by the Colonels. Haley Davis hit a fly ball near foul territory in left field that was caught, but a throwing error allowed Hogan to race home.
EKU got that run back in the top of the sixth on a solo shot by Amber Murray, but Harvard charged right back with a pair of its own in the bottom half to knot the score at 6-6. A fourth EKU fielding error by the short stop gave Jillian Leslie the opportunity to score and then Elizabeth Shively drove in the tying run with an infield groundout.
Harvard was able to get two quick outs to begin the top of the seventh, but Minogue's single to left center allowed Kayla Joyce to score the go-ahead run. Relief pitcher Alex Sallberg held the Harvard offense at bay in the final half inning to seal the win.
Georgia Southern 12, Harvard 2 (5 innings)
Georgia Southern (11-7) scored at least two runs in each of its turns at bat, posting a 12-2 victory over the Crimson Saturday evening.
The Eagles were able to get out to a 5-0 lead in the first frame, pushed primarily by a grand slam by Macy Weeks. Harvard got one of those runs back in the top of the second when Savannah Bradley scored on an error by the GS second baseman, but the Eagles came right back with two more runs of its own in the bottom of the second.
After GS added three more tallies to its side of the scoreboard in the bottom of the third, Harvard notched its second run when Alexa Altchek doubled to left to plate Bradley once again. A two-run homer by Hannah Farrell in the bottom of the fourth for the Eagles closed the scoring.
Harvard continues play at the Eagle Classic Sunday with a 10 a.m. matchup at North Dakota and a 12:15 p.m. rematch with Eastern Kentucky.