PHILADELPHIA – It’s a race to the finish, as the University of Pennsylvania softball team prepares for an important weekend of South Division play against Ivy rival Princeton. Every game counts and this weekend is no exception considering the Tigers are only half a game behind the Quakers. Both Penn and Princeton won three out of four games last weekend over their respective opponents, Cornell and Columbia.
A live video feed for Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests will be provided by the Ivy League Digital Network.
All the action can also be found through live stats, here.
Last Time Out
Penn (12-16, 7-4 Ivy) saw a late rally fall short at Penn Park on Wednesday to next-door neighbor Drexel, 6-2. Four different pitchers tossed for the Red and Blue, while 17 of the 21 Quakers saw playing time in the loss to the Dragons.
Drexel put one up on the board in the top of the second, but the Quakers matched it in the bottom of the third after a double by freshman Leah Allen knocked senior tri-captain Elysse Gorney home.
The Dragons loaded the bases in the next inning, scoring four runs for a 5-1 lead and tacked on a sixth run in the top of the fifth.
Down to the wire, the Red and Blue began the rally with one out. Freshman Vera Barnwell hit a hard slapper to third but an overthrow to first allowed Barnwell to advance to second. A groundout moved Barnwell to third, but Dragon pitcher Rose Portiolli loaded the bases via walks. Senior Kayla Dahlerbruch took advantage of the opportunity, recording an RBI with a single through the left side. However, the Quakers couldn’t bring anymore home as a pop up ended the rally.
Scouting Princeton (14-19, 6-4 Ivy)
After dropping the first game against Columbia on Saturday in New York, 4-3, the Tigers came back to win the next three over the Lions. The second game of the doubleheader was won by a score of 6-1. Sunday’s score were 3-2 and 6-2.
In Sunday’s first game, Princeton scored two runs in the second inning on a failed fielder’s choice and a passed ball. An error by one of Columbia’s outfielders in the sixth inning allowed the Tigers to score one more run, which turned out to be the game-winner.
Princeton continued to capitalize on Columbia mishaps in the second game, as a Lion fielding error extended the top of the first that allowed junior Cara Worden to put the Tigers up by two with a two-run homer to right field.
Columbia chipped away at the Princeton 2-0 lead, scoring a run in the bottom of the third, but the Tigers scored four runs in the top of the fifth, ultimately putting the game away.
Tigers to watch:
Junior infielder/outfielder Rachel Rendina – Played in 33 games, starting 32 … Tiger with best on base percentage (.365) … Also has most runs scored (13) and most hits (28) on the team.
Freshman pitcher Erica Nori – Is 7-5 and is tied for second in the League with a 1.90 ERA … Tossed nine complete games, most for any Tiger, and has pitched 77.1 innings … Has teams best batting average against with .255.
The Series with Princeton
Overall: Princeton leads the series, 23-54.
First Meeting: The Quakers defeated the Tigers in 1980, 18-6.
Last Meeting: April 13-14, 2013 – After dropping the first game 5-3, Penn defeated Princeton in the next three games to win the four-game series (10-9, 5-4, 9-2).
Notables: In the last 20 games (last five years’ four-games series), the Quakers have won 16 of the contests.
North and South Divisions DividedThe two undefeated teams in the Ivy League -- Dartmouth (12-0) and Harvard (7-0) -- sit atop in the North Division, while the two teams at the bottom of the League – Yale (1-11) and Brown (0-12) -- are also in the bottom of the Division. While the Big Green and Crimson battle it out for the top spot, it’s anyone’s game in the South.
Penn (7-4) currently leads the South Division a half a game ahead of Princeton (6-4), with Cornell (5-5) and Columbia (5-7) close behind.
It looks as if it will come down to the final week of Ivy play for both Divisions. Dartmouth and Harvard will play their four-game series, which will most likely determine the winner of the North, while both of the next two weekends are crucial for all the teams in the South. If Dartmouth continues to extend its current 13 game winning streak and Penn wins out the rest of the way, we may just see a repeat of last year’s championship series but at a different venue.
Player and Rookie of the Week
On Tuesday the Ivy League announced its softball weekly honors and University of Pennsylvania sophomore Kanani Datan and freshman Leah Allen were named Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week, respectively. This is Datan’s career-first weekly Ivy honor and Allen’s second consecutive Rookie honor, third this season.
Before the six games played this past week, against Brown and Cornell, Datan was hitting just .250 on the year, going 9-for-36 with one RBI in her first 15 games this season. She finished the six League games with a .588 average.
Datan jumped started the offense and sparked the squad to five wins, hitting safely in all six contests, going 10-for-17 with eight RBI and six runs scored -- two being the winning run in Sunday’s doubleheader with Cornell, when the Quakers defeated the Big Red in both games by a score of 9-8.
The sophomore outfielder was also named the Corvias ECAC Division I South Player of the Week.
6 GP, 17 AB, 6 R, 10 H, 2 2B, 8 RBIs, 3 BB, 0 K, 2 SB, .588 Avg., .667 on-base, .706 slg.%
Allen continues to lead the Quaker bats, after hitting .529, 9-for17, with three home runs and 10 RBI in the six League games. She hit safely in five of the six contests, slugging 1.294, and leads the League in home runs with nine and in slugging percentage at .814. In the final game of the Cornell series, Allen was a hit away from completing the cycle.
The freshman outfielder was also named as one of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s top performers, as well as Madness Ivy Softball Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.
6 GP, 17 AB, 7 R, 9 H, 2 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 BB, 2 K, 3 SB, .529 Avg., .600 on-base, 1.294 slg.%