Rhianna Rich had six RBI, four hits, a homer and a walk Saturday (Gil Talbot).
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard softball team (27-14, 15-3 Ivy) jumped to the top of the North Division standings Saturday, beating Dartmouth (26-14, 14-4 Ivy) in a pair of one-run contests, 4-3 and 6-5. The victories set the stage for the Crimson to secure the North Division title with just one victory Sunday in the final regular season doubleheader in Hanover. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. and both games can be seen live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
If Harvard does win one of the two games Sunday, it will host the Ivy League Championship Series against Princeton next weekend at Soldiers Field where it is 12-0 on the season.
Harvard 4, Dartmouth 3
Freshman Rhianna Rich and sophomore Maddy Kaplan provided four RBI at the top of the lineup and Morgan Groom struck out seven in the circle to lead the Crimson to a 4-3 victory in Saturday's opener.
The first 2.5 innings flew by with just one hit coming from Dartmouth, but in the bottom of the third Harvard got on the board with three runs on four hits. Davis led off the frame with a single and steal, while Galindo followed with an infield single. A sacrifice bunt from Kaitlyn Schiffhauer put both runners in scoring position. Rich then stood in a ripped a shot to right that scored both for the first two runs of the day, but the rookie was tagged out on the relay trying to stretch her hit into a triple.
Kaplan made it a 3-0 Harvard advantage when she launched her second home run over the right field wall.
Dartmouth responded in the top of the fourth with two runs of its own. With one out, Morgan Martinelli doubled to left and scored in the next at bat on Katie McEachern's single up the middle. McEachern scored two batters later on Maddie Damore's double.
The 3-2 score held until the bottom of the fifth when Harvard added one more to its tally on a Kaplan single back up the center of the field. That hit scored Galindo who led off the inning with a base hit of her own through the right side.
That run proved crucial, as McEachern opened the sixth with a solo shot to cut the lead back to one, 4-3, but Groom and the defense held off the Big Green the rest of the way to seal the win.
Harvard 6, Dartmouth 5
Rhianna Rich crushed her third home run of the year in the bottom of the sixth, a solo shot, to break a 5-5 tie and clinch the Saturday sweep for the Crimson as the sun was setting on Soldiers Field. The dinger capped a 3-for-4 game with four RBI for the freshman.
Sarah Smith earned her third win of the season in relief, while Groom came on in the top of the seventh and got the final two outs to collect her first save of the season.
Game two Saturday was a back-and-forth affair with each team plating a run in the first. Martinelli drove in the first run with a single through the left side, but Harvard fired back with Kaplan doubling down the left field line to drive in Galindo.
The Crimson took the lead in bottom of the second with RBIs from Savannah Bradley and Rich. Elizabeth Shively led off with a walk and then scored all the way from first on a Bradley smash to deep center. Bradley completed her trip around the bases on Rich's single through the middle to give Harvard a 3-1 lead.
The advantage was short-lived, as Dartmouth scored twice in the top of the third. Lourlin Lara tripled home McEachern and then scored on a bunt single from Karen Chaw. Dartmouth took the lead back in the fourth with Lara driving in McEachern again, this time on a single, making it a 4-3 Big Green advantage.
Harvard swung the score back in its favor in the bottom of the inning with Rich coming through with a two-out double to the left center gap, bringing home pinch-runner Rachel Halperin and Schiffhauer. Dartmouth again responded with another run in the top of the fifth. Damore led off with a triple and with one out, scored on Chloe Madill's sacrifice fly to right.
A full inning passed with the 5-5 score intact before Rich came through again with the two-out heroics. With the bases empty, Rich laced a pitch just over the right field wall to give Harvard the lead for good. In the seventh, Groom came on with one out and got a strikeout and a ground out to short to conclude the day with two Harvard victories.