PHILADELPHIA – The Penn softball team (10-10) begins its quest for an Ivy League title this weekend as it prepares for its first conference action of the season. The team that bested the Quakers in last season’s Ivy League Championship Series, Harvard (7-12), will be the first to visit Penn Park. Penn and the Crimson will go head to head in a doubleheader scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. on Friday. Then on Saturday the Red and Blue will play host to Dartmouth (10-12) in another doubleheader, this one set to start at 4 p.m.
Penn has historically struggled against Harvard, but is currently on 10 game win streak at Penn Park dating back to last season – the Quakers are 24-3 at Penn Park since it opened as their new home in Sept. 2011. The Red and Blue are also the hottest team in the Ivies right now and are on a six-game win streak heading into the weekend series.
This will be the first meeting between the Quakers and Crimson since last season’s ILCS, which Harvard took in two games in Cambridge, Mass. Penn returns every starter – eight of which received All-Ivy honors in 2012 – from that championship final team, and is ready for redemption at Penn Park.
Harvard is led by Andrea Del Conte and Katherine Lantz, as the sophomore duo leads the Crimson in batting. Kasey Lange leads Harvard in the power department with 12 RBI and three bombs on the season. In the circle Harvard is led by a trio of young hurlers who have combined for all seven of its wins and have each pitched at least 32 innings.
For the second of the two doubleheaders over the weekend, Penn will face a Big Green team that it leads 22-18 all-time. Last season, the two teams split a doubleheader in Hanover, N.H. but the Quakers have won three of the last four and 11 of the last 14 overall.
Dartmouth is led by rookie Katie McEachern who is currently batting .381 with 12 RBI. McEachern is coming off a week in which she was named Ivy League Rookie and Player of the Week and will prove a handful for the Quakers. In the circle, Kristen Rumley has been jocking for the spot as the top pitcher in the Ivies with Alexis Borden, and is currently 9-4 with a 1.84 ERA – Borden leads the conference with an ERA of 1.62.
For the Quakers, Borden will headline a weekend in which she has the chance to set two program records at Penn. The reigning Ivy League Pitcher of the Week needs just one more strikeout to become the all-time leader, and with 29 career victories, she needs two more to tie the all-time record.
Also playing well for Penn are its top four hitters in the lineup. Elysse Gorney has seen her reps in the leadoff spot increase in recent contests during the team’s six-game win streak – the junior is currently on a five-game hitting streak of her own – and is batting .302 with an on-base percentage of .444. Stephanie Caso is hitting .292 and spends most of her time in the second spot – she leads the team with 12 runs scored in 2013.
Splitting her time between third and leadoff is Samantha Erosa. The senior quad-captain leads Penn with a .341 batting average and is tied for the team lead with 15 hits. Brooke Coloma has spent the season in the cleanup spot and is second on the team with a .313 average. Additionally, Coloma now has 97 career RBIs – the program record is 108 – and will look to stake her name in the record books as Ivy play gets under way.