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WP: Alexis Borden (17-10), 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
LP: Kristen Rumley (22-9), 3.1, 5 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 K
PHILADELPHIA – The University of Pennsylvania softball team (30-18, 16-4 Ivy) accomplished something on Sunday afternoon that no team in program history has ever done – clinch a berth to the NCAA Tournament. In addition, they become just the second team in program history – first since 1981 – to win the Ivy League title.
With their win, the Quakers become the first program in the country to officially secure a spot in the NCAA regionals, and now await the results of next Sunday night’s selection show as far as where they will be playing. The top 16 teams in the country will host each regional tournament in a double elimination format.
The shining star on the day for Penn was Alexis Borden once again. The sophomore stud could have inched her way into contention for Ivy League Pitcher of the Year votes after posting a 2-1 record over the weekend, ending with her 3-2 victory on Sunday afternoon – her 17th of the season. She went the distance, adding eight strikeouts while scattering eight hits.
The Red and Blue did not make it easy, as they would fall behind 2-0 early. Borden got herself into a jam in the top of the first, loading the bases with just one out. After allowing a two-out RBI-walk to Dartmouth’s Morgan McCalmon, Borden was able to minimize the damage by striking out Kathy Dzienkowski to end the inning.
Already leading 1-0, the Big Green put another run on the board in the top of the second. With a runner on third and two outs, Kristen Rumley helped her cause with an RBI-single through the left side. Penn would get one back in the home half of the inning. Jessica Melendez reached safely on a two-out double to left-center, and Georgia Guttadauro brought her home during the next at-bat with an RBI-single to center.
The game stayed tied at 2-1 in favor of Dartmouth through the next inning and half, but Penn would then take the lead – one they would not relinquish – in the bottom of the fourth. Samantha Erosa led off the inning with a blooper to no-man’s-land in shallow rightfield, legging it out for a double. Brooke Coloma was the next Quaker in the batter’s box, and the senior reached on a fielding error by Dartmouth shortstop Katie McEachern. The Big Green freshman’s throw to first then went wide, resulting in a throwing error as well. On the same play, Erosa was able to advance from second to third on the first error, and then score the unearned run to tie the game on the second error. Then with one out and the bases empty, Kayla Dahlerbruch hit a solo shot – her fifth of the season – over the leftfield wall to give Penn the 3-2 lead.
Borden stranded two Dartmouth runners on base in each of the next two top-half innings. Then, in the top of the seventh the Yorba Linda, Calif. native came into the circle needing just three outs to secure the title for the Quakers. Her second pitch to the leadoff hitter Rumley was a line drive right at Guttadauro – one out. Borden sent down Hillary Hubert swinging in the next at-bat – two outs. McEachern approached the plate next, and Borden induced the title-clinching groundout to senior captain Erosa at second – three outs and one Ivy League championship.
Penn will now take the next two weeks off before flying out for the NCAA regionals from May 16-19, to be hosted by one of the top 16 teams in the country. The selection show will air live on ESPNU on May 12 at 10 p.m. More information can be found on NCAA.com and the spring championship selection page. Make sure to follow @UPennSoftball for updates on Penn softball as well as the road to the Women’s College World Series.