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PHILADELPHIA – Sunshine and blue skies, what better way to begin the softball season. Well that is just what the University of Pennsylvania softball team is counting on, as the spring break slate of 11 games over seven days begins Friday. After a month of practicing indoors, the Quakers are ready for their flight south to compete with seven teams, opening with Bowling Green at 11:15 a.m. and then Toldeo at 1:45 p.m. as part of the USF Under Armour Showcase. The tournament runs from March 6-8 with all games taking place at the Eddie C. Moore Complex in Clearwater, Fla. After a day off, the Red and Blue will pick back up with contests not scheduled as part of the tournament Tuesday through Thursday (March 10-12).
Penn will play Bowling Green and Syracuse twice and Central Michigan three times. The Quakers and Falcons (4-4) will first face-off on March 6 at 11:15 a.m. and will take the field once again on 3/10 at 3 p.m. After the conclusion of that game, competition with the Orange (7-8) will begin, to be followed up by the second game the following day at 3 p.m. The Red and Blue will first see the Chippewas (2-7) on 3/8 at 9 a.m. and will see them again for a doubleheader on the 12th starting at 11 a.m.
Penn’s single games: Toledo (4-10), 3/6 at 1:45 p.m.; Dayton (5-8), 3/7 at 9 a.m.; Wagner (2-2), 3/7 1:45 p.m.; Saint Joseph’s (6-4), 3/8 11:15 a.m.
Seven players will don the Red and Blue for the first time in their collegiate careers against Bowling Green on Friday. The Class of 2018 members – Rachel Cullen, Jurie Joyner, Hayley Metcalf, Molly Oretsky, Katie Petroski, Sarah Rowley, Mason Spichiger – hope to help the team to its fourth-straight South Division crown and reclaim the title Ivy League Champion for a berth into postseason play.
“This incoming class has a nice mix of speed, power, pitching and defense,” said head coach Leslie King. “They will add a lot to our team and to the Penn community.”
The Quakers return 12 letter winners, including two first-team All-Ivy performers, Leah Allen (also unanimously named the 2014 Rookie of the Year) and Kanani Datan; three second-team All-Ivy selections, Alexis Borden, Sydney Turchin, Alexis Sargent; and honorable mention All-Ivy utility player Lauren Li.
The Red and Blue finished their season 19-22 overall, 13-6-1 in the Ivy League and played Dartmouth in the Ivy League Championship series for the second year in-a-row. In the best of three series, the Quakers forced a third game after winning game two, 5-3. Penn held the lead in the final game until the bottom of the sixth, but the Big Green rallied and scored what would be the winning runs thus ending Penn’s season in Hanover, N.H.
As mentioned above, eight Quakers were announced to the All-Ivy teams -- the most overall selections across the League. In addition to first-team All-Ivy honors and Rookie of the Year, which was the first unanimous decision for the award since 2011, Allen was ECAC first-team All-Star and Rookie of the Year, second-team NFCA Mid-Atlantic All-Region, and was named the team’s Offensive Player of the Year.