Softball to Host Lehigh and Rider this Weekend

PHILADELPHIA - After rainy conditions forced the postponement of Wednesday's matchup against Lehigh into the weekend schedule, Penn Softball will now host four games over the course of Friday and Saturday, looking for its first home victories of the season. On Friday, Penn (5-7) will host Lehigh (7-10), who has been a common opponent on the Quaker's non-conference schedule for several years. On Saturday, Penn will then host Rider (3-14), beginning at 1 p.m.

In recent history, Lehigh has definitely held the upper hand over Penn as the Mountain Hawks have not lost to Penn in the past eight meetings despite several close games throughout the four year span, including one game that ended a tie due to darkness. The last time Penn defeated Lehigh was back in the 2006 season when the Quakers swept a doubleheader on the road.

An interesting side note to the Penn and Lehigh matchup is that Lehigh's current winning streak against Penn includes three games in which current Penn Assistant Lisa Sweeney (Lehigh '09) picked up the victory for the Mountain Hawks. Sweeney actually began the current win streak that Lehigh has over Penn with her victory in the 2007 season, which was her sophomore season at Lehigh.

Last season, Lehigh picked up two quick runs in the bottom of the first inning and Lehigh's Tiffany Curtis shutout Penn the rest of the way to preserve the 2-0 Lehigh win in game one. Penn will not have to worry about Curtis this year as she has since graduated. In the second game, Penn trailed early, but had six runners score in the sixth inning to take a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the inning. However, Lehigh would score four times in the bottom of the inning and hang on for the 10-7 victory and the sweep of both games.

This season's Lehigh squad uses a balance of both pitching and hitting. Kelsey Lee comes into the games on Friday with an ERA of 2.35, while Rebecca Bliss has also been solid in the circle, maintaining a 3.50 ERA on her way to recording a 3-1 record. Offensively, three Mountain Hawks are batting over .300. The highest average on the team comes from Liz Lucas who is batting .391 through 17 games. She is slugging .725 with three home runs and 20 runs driven in.

Against Rider on Saturday, the Penn offense will once again be tested as Rachael Matreale will come into play with an ERA of 2.13 through her first 65.2 innings. Sam Bennett has also posted an ERA of 1.68, but has been limited, throwing just 8.1 innings so far.

Despite struggling against Syracuse, Penn's offense still leads the Ivy League in team batting with an average of .308. Penn is also leading the Ivies in On-Base Percentage and Slugging. Alisha Prystowsky is currently first in the Ivy League in runs scored with 13 and On-Base Percentage, .500. Brooke Coloma is currently fourth in the league in RBI's with 11, while Stephanie Caso is fourth in runs scored with 10.

In the circle, Mikenzie Voves currently leads the team in wins and ERA during her freshman campaign. Cailyn Hennessy and Taylor Tieman have both picked up one victory each for Penn.

Scoring early will be a key to Penn's game plan during both contests. The Quakers are 4-1 when they put the first runs on the board. On the other hand, they are just 1-6 when they surrender the first run of the ball game.

The Quakers are currently a week away from the start of the 2011 Ivy League Season. Following this weekend's home contests, Penn will make the short trip over to LaSalle on Wednesday for its first true road competition of the season. Then on Friday and Saturday, league play opens up around the Ivies. Penn will open its Ivy schedule with Harvard and Dartmouth coming to Philadelphia next Friday and Saturday.

A live blog will be available for both games this weekend.