PHILADELPHIA – With the Ivy race heating up, the University of Pennsylvania softball team heads to South Division rival Princeton this weekend for a four-game series against the Tigers. Penn (14-16, 2-6) and Princeton (11-21, 4-4) will play doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday (12:30 p.m.), with each game to broadcast live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Last Time Out
The Quakers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 4-2 win over Drexel on Wednesday at Penn Park. Tied 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Jurie Joyner knocked in a pair with a one-out base hit up the middle. Lauren Li notched the win in the circle for the Quakers, while Mason Spichiger pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh. JuniorCedar Slovacek also had a RBI single for the Red and Blue, as they jumped out a 2-0 lead in the second. Penn is now 7-6 at home this season, and 2-2 against City 6 teams.
The Tigers, who are led by former Penn assistant coach Lisa Van Ackeran, enter the weekend atop the Ivy League’s South Division with a record of 4-4 (11-21 overall). Princeton took three-of-four from Yale and Brown last weekend, while also holding a triumph over Harvard.
Princeton has had a plethora of contributors this season, with six players having at least 10 RBI and 20 hits. Kylee Pierce and Kaylee Grant are the Tigers’ top hitters, batting .423 and .326 respectively. Grant went 9-for-16 last weekend, which raised her average 52 points. In the circle, sophomore Ashley La Guardia leads the way with a 5-5 record and 3.59 ERA.
Penn has dominated the recent history against Princeton, having won at least three-of-four from the Tigers in each of the last seven seasons. In fact, the Red and Blue are 22-6 against the Tigers since 2008 and 25-17 under Coach King.
Junior slugger Leah Allen is on the precipice of a pair of Penn records, including the Quakers’ all-time home run mark. Already with five this season, she is just one long ball shy of her 24th career home run, which would tie the record. Allen also stands a triple short of tying Penn’s single-season mark in three-baggers (5).
The Red and Blue have shown to be extremely balanced this season, with five Quakers currently hitting over .300. Sam Pederson leads the way with a team-high 30 hits and .379 batting average. Lauren Li (.337), Kanani Datan (.329), Alexis Sargent (.308), and Allen (.303) join Pederson over the .300 clip, while Sarah Cwiertnia is batting .298.
Alexis Sargent has been the steady force for Penn in the circle, leading the Ivy League in both ERA (2.03) and strikeouts (88). She has already been named the conference’s Pitcher of the Week a league-best three times this season. Sargent was hit with some tough luck last weekend, pitching into the eighth inning twice but notching a pair of losses against Harvard and Dartmouth.
Batting in the two-hole, Kanani Datan has been on an offensive tear over the Quakers’ last seven games. The senior captain is 11-for-24 at the plate during this span, with four runs scored and a pair of doubles.
Penn has been on the losing end of all five of its extra-inning affairs this season, including a pair of Ivy defeats last weekend. The Quakers have allowed a total of 15 runs in these extra frames.
Quaker Quick Hits
*Allen is tied for the league lead in RBI this season (30), and sits 13 short of her own Penn single-season record in the category. Her five home runs also ranks in the top five (4th) in the conference.
*Penn went 9-3 against the Ivy League South last season, and holds a record of 37-11 against South foes over the last four seasons (four Division titles).
*The Quakers are second in the Ivy League in both triples (8) and stolen bases (30) this season. Allen leads the way in both categories, with four triples and seven steals.