Softball Heads to Princeton for Final Ivy Doubleheaders

PHILADELPHIA – Penn softball wraps up their regular season this weekend, with two doubleheaders at Princeton, Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. The Quakers are looking to finish one of their best seasons in school history, and earn a spot in the Ivy League playoffs.

On the Line
This weekend’s games are about more than just bragging rights – first place in the South Division is on the line. Penn currently sits in first place, with a 12-4 league record. Cornell and Princeton are tied at second, with identical 8-4 records. Columbia rounds out the division, with a 7-9 record. As the Quakers and the Tigers meet this weekend, Cornell and Columbia will also be battling it out, and anything is possible. But it’s likely that a division winner won’t be clear until the last weekend in April, when Cornell and Princeton meet for two doubleheaders.

In the North Division, Harvard leads the way, with a 7-5 Ivy tally. Dartmouth holds tight in second, at 6-6, with Yale and Brown both out of the hunt.

Last Time Out
The Quakers are coming off two midweek doubleheaders, including two key wins over Cornell. On Wednesday, the Red and Blue swept the Big Red, winning the first game 7-1, and the second 5-4. But Penn followed the two wins with two tough losses to city rival Drexel. The Dragons won the first game, 8-2, and crushed Penn’s pitching staff in the second, winning 18-4.

Power at the Plate
Penn is currently the best hitting team in the league, with a team average of .308. And junior Annie Kinsey leads the league in almost every offensive category. But the Quakers are making a name for themselves on the national stage as well. As of April 15, Penn is on twelve national lists.

Senior Stephanie Reichert is 17th in the nation in RBI per game – her 35 RBI in 32 games gives her an average of 1.09 RBI per game. And freshman Keiko Uraguchi on tied for 24th in nation in sacrifice hits per game – her ten in 32 games so far are good for an average of .31 sacs per game. Junior Annie Kinsey is the most common name on the lists, however. Kinsey’s batting average of .482 at the beginning of the week is the seventh best in the country. She’s also tied for sixth in the nation in doubles per game (.41), and sixth in runs per game (1.22). Kinsey is also 16th in the nation in slugging percentage (.836).
As a team, Penn has also earned nation rankings in multiple categories. The Quakers are 16th in the nation for team batting average (.314), tied for 18th in scoring (5.88 runs per game), 25th in home runs per game (1.09), and 12th in slugging percentage (.510). The Red and Blue are also fourth in the nation in doubles per game (1.75). But the crowning achievement for the Quakers is their defense: Penn leads the entire country in double plays per game. As of Monday, the Quakers had turned 19 double plays in 32 games, or .59 double plays per game.

Scouting the Tigers
Princeton is one of the Ivy League’s perennial powerhouses, with 16 championships under their belt, but has struggled to dominate this year. They are 18-25 overall, and 8-4 in the Ivies. After graduating ace Erin Snyder last May, the Tigers haven’t been able to replicate her success on the mound. Snyder graduated as a two-time Ivy League Pitcher of the Year, with an ERA of .85, and a career strikeout tally of 819, a Princeton record. This year, it’s junior Kristen Schaus that the Tigers are turning to on the mound. The 2005 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Schaus has thrown 11 complete games, for an 8-11 record and a 2.97 ERA.

Offensively, sophomore Erin Miller leads the Tigers, with a batting average of .339. But three other members of Princeton’s squad are big hitters as well. Sophomore Kathryn Welch was the league’s Rookie of the Year last season, and has tallied eight doubles and 44 RBI so far. Senior Stephanie Steel also has eight doubles and is tied for a team-high 48 RBI. Senior Calli Jo Varner also has 48 RBI, and leads the Tigers in homers, with six.

While the Quakers have played one of the program’s best seasons ever, they’ll be fighting against history when they take on the Tigers. Princeton leads the all-time series, 45-2. The only times Penn has beaten Princeton came in 2000, and before that, 1991. Last year, the Tigers took home both games, wining the first 4-0, and the second, 5-2.

The first pitch this weekend is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, in Princeton, N.J. Sunday is also slated to start at 1 p.m. The game will be streamed live from Princeton’s website.