CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard softball team (23-14, 11-3 Ivy) honored its four seniors Saturday evening, but not before sweeping a doubleheader against Brown (16-19, 5-9 Ivy) at Soldiers Field. First pitch was delayed two hours, but when play got underway, Harvard took the opener, 7-6, in eight innings, and went on to dispatch of the Bears, 8-0, in game two.
Following the conclusion of the second game, seniors Rachel Halperin, Zoe Galindo, Haley Davis and Morgan Groom were recognized for their contributions to the Harvard softball team over the last four years.
Harvard 7, Brown 6 (8 inn.)
It was all Harvard early on as the Crimson raced out to a 6-0 lead through the first four innings, but Brown was able to battle back and forced extras with a four-run seventh that knotted the game at 6-6. In the eighth, Groom worked out of a one-out, bases loaded situation and then pinch-hitter Catherine Callaway drove in the game-winning run in for the Crimson in the bottom half to clinch the 7-6 victory.
Groom, who pitched the first six frames and then re-entered in the eight, gave up just two runs on six hits, improving to 7-4 on the year. Freshman Rhianna Rich accounted for three of Harvard's RBI, while Maddy Kaplan, Elizabeth Shively and Kaitlyn Schiffhauer each had two hits in the game.
Brown's defense was a hindrance throughout the opening game, racking up five errors. Three of those miscues occurred in the opening inning when Harvard plated two runs. Lead-off hitter Kaplan wound up on third after her hard ground ball gave the Brown second baseman trouble and then also continued through the centerfielder. Two batters later, another hard-hit ball to the right side of the infield by Rich was misplayed by the second baseman and Kaplan scored. Giana Panariello drove in the second run with a clean single up the middle that plated Lantz who had walked and stole second.
Rich knocked in another run in the bottom of the second, using a fielder's choice ball to bring home pinch-runner Halperin.
A scoreless third gave way to a three-run fourth for the Crimson. A double by Schiffhauer was followed by a RBI single off the bat of Kaplan to make it a 4-0 Harvard lead. Two batters later, Rich drove in her third RBI of the day, slamming a pitch back up the middle. Lantz capped the scoring in the inning with an infield single that allowed Rich to race home after stealing third.
Brown began chipping away at the deficit in the sixth with an RBI double by Ashli Lotz and a sacrifice fly from Christina Andrews. The comeback came full swing in the seventh with a double by Grayson Metzger that scored two of her teammates, a RBI ground out by Janet Leung and a solo homer from Yeram Park.
After Groom worked out of the jam in the top of the eighth, Harvard's offense loaded the bases with a Shively single, Schiffhauer bunt single and an intentional walk to Kaplan. Head coach Jenny Allard then called on Callaway who put a ground ball in play to the left side of the infield, deep enough for Shively to beat the throw home.
Harvard 8, Brown 0 (5 inn.)
In game two, Harvard once again jumped out to a commanding lead early on, but this time the Brown offense was kept at bay the entirety of the game and the Crimson cruised to an 8-0 win in five innings. Junior pitcher Taylor Cabe struck out five Brown batters and gave up just two hits, as she pushed her win total to 13. Harvard's lineup was firing on all cylinders with eight hitters tallying 11 hits.
Two of those 11 hits cleared the left field wall in the first inning, as Lantz and Shively both blasted two-run shots to give Harvard a 4-0. Lantz's home run was her seventh of the season, tying her for ninth-most in a single season in the Harvard record books. The homer also gives her 36 RBI on the year allowing her to enter the top-10 in that category as well. Shively's long ball was her second this season.
Savannah Bradley added to the lead in the second, dropping in a single just inside the left field line, scoring Panariello and Lantz. Scoring continued in the third for the Crimson with Kaplan placing a double in left center to bring around Schiffhauer and Galindo. The rookie Schiffhauer put the finishing touches on the win with a RBI single in the fourth.
Cabe was lights out in the fourth, getting two Brown hitters to look at strike three, and then she added another K in the fifth.
Harvard and Brown will be back at it again Sunday, with day two of its series set to begin at 12:30 p.m. at Soldiers Field.