PHILADELPHIA - Penn Softball had to wait a day longer than anticipated, but the Quakers will get the Ivy League portion of the season underway Saturday at Warren Field against Harvard. The first pitch of game one is scheduled for 2 p.m. Following the doubleheader against Harvard, Penn will then host Dartmouth on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in another doubleheader. Playing out of the South Division, Penn will be tested early with the top-two finishers from the North Division from last season to open conference play.
In the circle, Harvard (14-10) has a solid one-two punch that will test the Penn lineup. Rachel Brown comes into the game on Saturday with an ERA of 1.72 through 89.1 innings. Laura Ricciardone also maintains an impressive 2.31 ERA with four victories on the season. As a whole, the Harvard pitching staff has the top ERA in the Ivy League. Offensively, five Harvard players that see regular playing time have a batting average over .300. As a team, Harvard has the third best batting average in the Ivies.
A season ago, Penn split the doubleheader with Harvard in the second weekend of Ivy League play. Harvard's loss was just one of three losses the Crimson endured during the Ivy schedule. In that game, Taylor Tieman held off the Crimson's offense for the 5-4 victory. Tieman went the distance in that game, while Alisha Prystowsky added two key RBI's in the winning effort.
Dartmouth (5-10) has struggled in the early going to win the tight games against a tough non-conference schedule. Offensively, the team is led by Meghan Everett, who is batting .364 coming into the weekend. Katie Adams also has the ability to hurt the opposition with her three home runs this season. In the circle, Hillary Barker and Evan Gray have combined to pitch to pitch just under 90 percent of the team's innings. These two individuals posses ERA's of 3.73 and 3.86 respectively.
In the doubleheader last season, Penn needed every inning to take down Dartmouth in game one as Brooke Coloma hit a walk-off grand slam to bring home the 6-2 victory to start the day. In game two, Tieman tossed a one-hit shutout, paving the way to a Penn sweep.
Penn should have plenty of confidence and momentum following a tough non-conference schedule to prepare the team for the Ivy League season. In its last final tune-up on Wednesday, Penn used home runs by Kayla Dahlerbruch, Samantha Erosa, and Justine Payne to pace the offense. This output was more than enough as Mikenzie Voves and Tieman combined for the shutout victory over La Salle, 6-0.
As a team, Penn leads the Ivy League in batting average, slugging percentage, and on base percentage. Penn has also been strong defensively as the Quaker's boast the fourth best fielding percentage in the league. In the circle, Voves has a team-high six wins on the season, which is also tied for second best in the Ivies.
Dahlerbruch is currently fifth in the Ivy League in batting average, while she and fellow freshman Elysse Gorney are both in the top-five in on base percentage. Six regulars in the Penn lineup are currently batting over .300. Behind Dahlerbruch's .370 average, Gorney is hitting .367. Coloma is currently batting .340, while Prystowsky and Stephanie Caso are each hitting .333. Following her two-hit game against La Salle, Justine Payne is now batting .323 on the season.
A season ago, Penn jumped out of the gates quickly in the Ivy season, going 4-0 in the opening weekend. The Quakers will now be looking to duplicate that result for the 2011 season.