CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Coming off a one-run victory against North Carolina early Friday evening, Harvard (3-5) softball fell to Kansas (14-3) in extra innings, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon.
The Crimson set the aggressive tone in the early innings. Junior shortstop Rhianna Rich and senior right fielder Maddy Kaplan opened the game with back-to-back singles, before advancing into scoring position with only one out. Junior third baseman Erin Lockhart grounded out to shortstop for the second out, but in the back door came Rich to put Harvard on the board, 1-0.
Sophomore right-hander Olivia Giaquinto retired the first four Jayhawk batters she faced before allowing a one-out walk to Shelby Gayre in the top of the second. Gayre came in to tie the game two batters later on an RBI double by Tarin Travieso. But Giaquinto was able to minimize the damage, getting right fielder Brynn Minor to pop out to first and end the threat.
Harvard threatened to re-take the lead in the bottom of the fourth with runners in scoring position and no outs. Junior backstop Nicki Nishizawa lifted a high fly ball into centerfield, that appeared to be deep enough to score Rich from third, but Kansas was able to complete the double play. Moments later, the Jayhawks retired Giaquinto on a fly out to right field.
After a solid defensive play by the Jayhawks in the bottom of fourth to keep the game tied at one, Kansas broke the stalemate a half inning later to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth.
Trailing by a run entering the bottom of the sixth, junior Meagan Lantz picked the perfect opportunity for her first homerun of the season. With one out in the frame, Lantz tied the game with a solo shot over the left field fence.
Kansas took advantage of a Harvard miscue to begin the seventh to re-gain the lead. Duncan appeared as though she was going get out of the inning unscathed, getting Jessie Roane to ground out back to the circle, but Harli Ridling lined a double into left center to put the Jayhawks back on top, 3-2.
The game was far from over. With bases loaded, two outs and the middle of the Crimson order coming to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, Lantz came through once again. The southeastern Florida native reached on an error to bring in junior center fielder Kaitlyn Schiffhauer to tie the game at 3-3, and force extra innings.
Kansas pushed across the go-ahead run and took a 4-3 lead, in the top of the eighth. However, in the home half, Harvard was unable to come up with the late-game heroics for the third time in the contest.
Junior left-hander Kathleeen Duncan took the loss dropping her to 3-4 on the season after tossing six innings of relief, allowing two unearned runs on eight hits, while striking out two.
- Senior Maddy Kaplan went 2-for-3 with a walk from the top of the Crimson lineup.
- Junior Meagan Lantz's only hit of game was her first homerun of the season, a solo homerun to left field in the sixth.
- Freshman Morgan Melito went 1-for-4 and has reached base safely in seven of eight games.
- The top of the Crimson line-up went 6-for-13 with a double, two homeruns, two RBI, and two runs scored.
- There were three ties and four lead changes over eight innings between the two teams.
- Kansas has now won the last three meetings between the two institutions.
Harvard will conclude the Carolina Classic tomorrow against North Carolina.