Softball Powers Up, Sweeps La Salle

PHILADELPHIA - The first game was over almost before it started. The second ended minutes before the umpires would have been forced to call the game on account of darkness. In the end, though, the Penn softball team emerged victorious in both ends of a doubleheader with La Salle, winning the first game 6-2 and the second 5-4 in nine innings. Sophomore Susan Miller crushed her first collegiate home run, a grand slam, in the first inning of Game One. Senior Christina Khosravi drove in three in Game Two, including her sixth home run of the season and an RBI single in the ninth that sent the Quakers (16-8, 3-1)home victorious.

Freshman Jessie Lupardus earned the victory in Game One, scattering four hits over seven innings while allowing just one earned run. Her record improved to 13-2. Junior tri-captain Emily Denstedt pitched 5.2 innings in relief in Game Two, holding the Explorers scoreless while striking out five as the Quakers rallied from an early deficit.

Senior tri-captain Annie Kinsey opened the game for Penn by reaching on an error by the second baseman. Sophomore Keiko Uraguchi then slapped a hard line drive off La Salle pitcher Gina Massaro, and both runners were safe. After freshman Alisha Prystowsky reached on catcher's interference, Khosravi got the Quakers on the board with a sacrifice fly to center that scored Kinsey.

Freshman Kelsey Wolfe was hit by a pitch to reload the bases, and after freshman Taylor Tieman struck out, up stepped Miller. The sophomore had just one at bat last season, spending most of the year in the Quakers' pitching rotation. This season, Miller had seen plenty of time as a first baseman and a designated player. Playing as the latter on Wednesday, Miller ripped the Massaro offering to the deepest part of the park, but center fielder Katie Curcio could just watch as the ball cleared the fence and put Penn out to a 5-0 lead.

With Lupardus and her sub-1.00 ERA on the hill, the Quakers cruised from there. They added a run in the fourth when junior Anna Puglisi reached on a fielder's choice and came around to score on a throwing error by Massaro on a grounder hit by Uraguchi.

Lupardus, meanwhile, struck out a career high 10 batters, including five of the last nine. She set down the last nine Explorers in order as the Quakers wrapped up the victory.

Game Two got off to a good start as well, as Kinsey walked and was forced out by Uraguchi, who reached on the fielder's choice. After Prystowsky flew out, Uraguchi stole second and Khosravi brought her home with an RBI double sliced to right-center field.

La Salle took a 2-1 lead in the third, though, when Massaro reached on an error and Mary Pat Conville ripped a home run to left-center. Penn tied the score in the bottom of the inning when Kinsey led off with a double and was brought home by a Prystowsky single to center.

In the fourth, the Explorers took a 4-2 lead which drove the starter, Tieman, from the game. On came Denstedt, who allowed two singles but escaped any further damage.

Khosravi's blast to left-center in the sixth inning brought the Quakers back within one. The home run ricoched off the scoreboard, although there was no Natural-esque light bulb explosion.

Freshman Bridget McDugall led off the ninth with a single to right, and freshman Diana Ark followed with a liner to right-center to put runners on first and second. After Puglisi put down a perfect bunt to avoid a heavy shift and advance the runners, Kinsey was intentionally walked.

Uraguchi hit a comebacker that pitcher Laura Beth McCreesh had trouble handling, but the Explorers' hurler managed to get the ball home in time to force McDugall. With the bases still loaded, though, Prystowsky worked a two-out walk to force home Ark as the tying run.

It appeared that the game was over when Khosravi was hit in the foot with a pitch, but the umpires ruled that the ball had not hit her, and Kinsey, caught off third, was tagged out to end the inning. The game would go to extra innings.

After a scoreless eighth, Kinsey drew a one-out walk in the ninth. She moved up to second on a Prystowsky single, bringing up Khosravi.

"I had been asking everyone who was going to step up, so it would have been pretty bad if I didn't," the reigning Ivy League Player of the Week said after the game. "I was ready to be the one in that position."

Sure enough, as darkness fell on Warren Field and the game was in danger of being called a tie, Khosravi put such thoughts to rest when she laced a ball to the right-center field gap. It went for extra bases as Kinsey rounded third and headed home with the winning run. Two innings later than they had thought, Khosravi brought Kinsey home with the winning run, and their teammates mobbed them in celebration.

The Quakers will now hit the road for four Ivy League contests. They will head up to Dartmouth on Saturday, where they will play a doubleheader with the Big Green starting at 1 p.m. Harvard will be the next stop for Penn, as they travel to Cambridge on Sunday for a doubleheader that has been moved up to noon.