PHILADELPHIA – After winning the title of South Division Champion for the third year in a row, the University of Pennsylvania softball team met Dartmouth in the Ivy League Championship Series for the second consecutive year, this time in Hanover, N.H. In the best of three series, the Quakers forced a third game after winning the second game, 5-3. The Red and Blue held the lead until the bottom of the sixth, when the Big Green scored what would be the winning runs. Penn ended the season with an overall record of 19-22-1 and an Ivy League record of 13-6-1.
The Quakers opened the season with their annual Spring Break trip to Florida, after a snow storm postponed Penn’s home opener with Saint Joseph’s scheduled for the Tuesday before the games down south. Over the course of the trip in the Sunshine State, the Red and Blue participated in two tournaments, playing 11 games in seven days. While in Florida, junior pitcher Alexis Borden was named the Ivy League Pitcher of the Week, for her performance in the UCF Spring Fling. Borden pitched a total of 19 innings and recorded 28 strikeouts, after opening the season against Troy in a 10 inning game with 15 strikeouts.
The following week Penn was back in Philadelphia, freshman Leah Allen earned Ivy Co-Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week for her performance in the USF Under Armour Showcase. Allen blasted three homers and drove in 10 runs, slugging .950.
It wasn’t long after the return to Philly that Penn was scheduled to begin Ivy play; however, Mother Nature had other plans, forcing the Red and Blue to reschedule and cancel several games. (There was a 10 day gap between the last game in Florida and the first game in Philadelphia.)
After falling in a doubleheader with Saint Joseph’s and back-to-back games against La Salle and Delaware, the Quakers hosted Yale for the first Ivy games of the season and swept the Bulldogs in a pair of 3-0 wins. The Red and Blue put one more in the wins column with a victory over Philadelphia rival Temple in extra innings. Kayla Dahlerbruch hit a walk-off single to the right line for the 4-3 win.
Penn prepared for a tough weekend of games, traveling north for the first Ivy road contests against Harvard and Dartmouth. The Quakers fell in all three contests. (The Red and Blue were only able to complete one game of the scheduled doubleheader with the Crimson, as the second game was halted in the top of the seventh due to darkness).
Shaking off the weekend’s losses, Penn posted two wins over Brown and followed it up by winning the first South Division Series against Cornell, 3-1. Kanani Datan and Leah Allen led the bats and were rocognized by the Ivy League. Datan earned her first weekly Ivy honor when she was named Player of the Week, after hitting .588, slugging .706, and recording eight RBI in the week’s six contests. Allen earned her third Rookie of Week honor, after hitting .529, slugging 1.294, and recording 10 RBI and three home runs.
After a midweek loss to neighbor Drexel, where 17 of the 21 Quakers saw playing time and four different pitchers tossed, Penn traveled to Princeton for their second South Division Series. With a tight race in the south, the Red and Blue needed to win the series to keep their championship hopes alive. The team was well on its way to achieving that goal, after sweeping the Tigers on day one by scores of 11-1 (6 innings) and 4-3. In the 11-1 win, Allen hit her 10th and 11th homers of the season, which put her at the top of the list for most home runs in a single season. The two teams split the next day when Penn took game one, 6-2, and Princeton won game two, 9-6.
One more midweek contest with Monmouth was scheduled before Penn would play Columbia in a four-game series that would determine the Quakers’ future. With a 2.5 game lead over the Lions, the Red and Blue needed either three wins or two wins and a Cornell loss to clinch the South Division crown. But Penn took matters into their own hands, winning the series over Columbia 3-1. The Quakers dominated in day one at Penn Park, taking the Lions out early in both games by scores of 10-0 and 9-1. A trip to New York followed the next day, where the Red and Blue split the day with Columbia, taking game one, 3-1, and falling in the second, 6-5.
A final nonconference game with Villanova was all that was left before playing Dartmouth in the ILCS. Penn ended the regular season with a loss to the Wildcats on a chilly and rainy Tuesday, and began preparing for the battle in Hanover that weekend.
Since the ILCS began in 2007, the home team was crowned the champion each year. After splitting the first day, the Quakers looked as if they may be the first team to break the streak, as they needed only six more outs to win the title in Game Three. However, Dartmouth battled back in the bottom of the sixth, to take their first lead of the game, and scored what would be the winning runs.
After the conclusion of the season, eight Quakers were announced to the All-Ivy teams -- the most overall represented from an Ancient Eight school: Elysse Gorney (First-Team), Leah Allen (First-Team), Kanani Datan (First-Team), Alexis Borden (Second-Team), Sydney Turchin (Second-Team), Alexis Sargent (Second-Team), Kayla Dahlerbruch (Honorable Mention), Lauren Li (Honorable Mention). In addition, Allen was unanimously named Rookie of the Year, the first unanimous decision for the award since 2011.