PHILADELPHIA - First place in the South Division is once again within grasp for the Penn Softball team courtesy of a Princeton 12-2 victory over Cornell on Sunday afternoon that brought Penn to within two games of the first-place Big Red. The Quakers will now get another chance at taking down the top team in their division Thursday. Taking three critical victories over Columbia allowed Penn to move within two games of Cornell. The Quakers and Big Red must now make up the games that were previously postponed due to inclement weather.
The first game on Thursday is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. at Drexel's softball field. A Penn victory in the first game would force a second game on Thursday immediately following the first. A Penn sweep of both games on Thursday would force a tie in the South Division and a one-game playoff that would take place at 9 a.m. on Friday, which would also be played at Drexel.
Earlier in the season, heading up to a frigid Ithaca, NY, Cornell took both games in the first doubleheader these two teams played. In these games, the Big Red combined for seven home runs over two games, powering their way past Penn, 10-2 and 8-6. On a day when home runs seemed to be flying over the fence every single inning, Penn had five long balls of its own, including three by Jessica Melendez, while Alisha Prystowsky and Kayla Dahlerbruch also went deep.
Cornell got the leadoff hitter aboard eight times in 11 chances against Penn earlier this month. In those eight innings that Cornell got its leadoff hitter on, the Big Red scored a combined 16 runs. On the contrary, Cornell scored just twice in both games combined when Penn retired the first hitter of the inning. A big challenge for Penn will be keeping Marissa Amiraian off base. She was 5-7 in the leadoff spot and scored four times.
Penn will be hoping that the warmer weather will heat up the bats of an offense that struggled in the cold of New York. Outside of home runs by Melendez, Prystowsky, and Dahlerbruch, the Quakers managed just three other hits. All season long, Penn has been very productive on the offensive side of the ball. The Quakers are averaging 5.1 runs per game this season, which is second best in the Ivy League. The Quakers have the second-highest slugging percentage (.438) and on base percentage (.381) to go along with the third-highest batting average (.288) among the eight Ivy schools. Penn is also hitting .307 with runners on base this season.
Individually, Prystowksy is leading the team in batting average (.378), slugging (.667), and on base percentage (.507). She also owns team highs in doubles (9), triples (4), home runs (5), runs (33) and RBI's (31). Brooke Coloma and Elysse Gorney come into the game with identical .313 batting averages. Coloma is also second on the team in runs (27) and RBI's (25), while Gorney is tied for the team lead in steals (7) and second in triples (2).
Dahlerbruch is the fourth Quaker to be hitting over .300 this season. She is batting .307 and has an on base percentage of (.423). She has also knocked in 23 runs this season. Hitting just under .300 are Stephanie Caso (.299), Samantha Erosa (.295), and Melendez (.292). Caso has scored 23 runs this year, while knocking in 16. Melendez has 12 runs and RBI's, while Erosa has scored 19 times to go along with a .402 on base percentage.
Justine Payne and Kelsey Wolfe have combined to knock in 27 runs, while scoring 26 times. This past weekend against Columbia, Wolfe went 5-12 with three runs and five RBI's, while Payne batted .400 in five at bats with two RBI's.
In the circle, Mikenzie Voves has 10 wins during her freshman campaign. Cailyn Hennessy is also 5-3 on the season with four of her victories coming in Ivy League play. In South Division games played in Philadelphia, Voves and Hennessy have provided a solid 1-2 pairing for Penn. In these games, the two have combined for a 4-1 record with a combined ERA of 2.08.
Penn will need to win three consecutive games against Cornell this weekend to capture the South Division of the Ivy League and send them to the Ivy League Championship Series. A Cornell victory in any game Thursday or Friday would give the Big Red the South Division title. Awaiting the eventual champion of the South Division is Harvard, who captured the North Division.
The eventual South Division Champion will travel to Harvard on Saturday for the Ivy League Championship Series. The Ivy League Championship will be played in a best of three games format. A doubleheader would take place Saturday at 1 p.m. If needed, a third game would be played that Sunday at 1 p.m.
Live Stats and a Live Blog will be available for all of Penn's games this weekend.