PHILADELPHIA – Due to Lehigh’s field being unplayable, the University of Pennsylvania softball team will now host the Mountain Hawks (13-3) on Wednesday at Penn Park for its spring home opener at 3pm. Hoping that the weather will hold out, the Quakers (6-5) will play as the home team for both games and look to begin a four-game home stand with two wins.
Last Time on the Field
Penn ended its Spring Break slate splitting a doubleheader with Central Michigan. The Quakers took game one, 3-1, but fell to the Chippewas in game two, 4-0.
A sac fly by junior Kanani Datan in the bottom of the first and a solo shot from sophomore Leah Allen gave the Red and Blue an early 2-0 lead in game one. Central Michigan put one on the board in the top of the sixth, but a single up the middle from Allen in the bottom half of the inning scored one and a tough Penn defense in the top of the seventh ended the game, 3-1.
The Quakers weren’t quite as productive in the second game, recording only one hit when freshman Sarah Rowley reached safely on a bunt in the top of the first. The Chippewas recorded a total of seven hits, scoring four runs for a 4-0 victory.
Scouting Lehigh (13-3)
Head to head, the Mountain Hawks have played five more games than the Quakers and even had six contests on their schedule canceled due to inclement weather -- including games with UNC, Maryland, and No. 23 Notre Dame.
After starting the season off with a 6-5 win over Omaha, Lehigh fell to the hands of Indiana, 15-7, in 6 innings. The Mountain Hawks then went on a seven-game win streak only to be halted by Creighton -- a 4-0 loss to the Bluejays. With a win over Georgetown in between, Lehigh’s third loss of the season then came to USF, 4-2.
Now the Mountain Hawks are on a four-game win streak, after narrowly escaping a loss to UMass-Lowell with three runs in the top of the seventh for a 6-5 victory.
Scoring action between both teams took place from the fourth inning on, starting with Lehigh. Senior Emma Capetz hit a single RBI while freshman Carolyn Wright added two more with a single of her own. The Mountain Hawks held onto a 3-0 lead until the River Hawks scored one in the bottom of the fifth and then added four more in the bottom of the sixth. With one out and runners at second and third, UMass-Lowell capitalized on some momentum and scored one on a fielder’s choice then on a dropped third strike. The final two runs came in on a single, giving the River Hawks a two run cushion at 5-3. However, an error by UMass-Lowell’s shortstop allowed Lehigh to score the tying run and a single to right field by sophomore Vicky Lattanzio scored what was the winning run.
The Series with the Mountain Hawks
It is like déjà vu, as Penn and Lehigh attempted to meet last year on the Wednesday after the Quakers returned from Spring Break. Due to weather, the doubleheader that was scheduled to be played at Lehigh was moved to Penn Park but rain during the first game forced the two teams to cancel the contests.
The last time the two teams met was the previous season (2013), when the Red and Blue took two at Penn Park by scores of 8-7 and 2-0. However, Lehigh holds the overall series lead at 36-21-2.
This is the first year since 2012 that the Quakers returned to Philadelphia from Florida with a winning record. Playing two more games in 2012 than this year, the Red and Blue posted an 8-5 record, while this year they finished 6-5.
Growing pains and learning curves were inevitable when the team, including seven freshmen, took the field in the Sunshine State for the first time together. After dropping the very first contest of the season to Bowling Green in 8 innings, 2-1, the Quakers were determined not to have a repeat against Maine. The Black Bears scored one for a 4-3 advantage in the top of the eighth, but a hit up the middle by sophomore Leah Allen allowed two to score for a dramatic 5-4 victory.
Another highlight of the trip for the Red and Blue was taking a 10-8 win from Syracuse, after being down 8-3 at one point in the game. Sophomore Alexis Sargent blasted the first home run of the season to tie things at 3-3 in the bottom of the first. However, the Orange scored five in the next half putting Penn behind by five. The Quakers chipped away at the score, putting up one in the bottom of the second and fourth to cut Syracuse’s lead to three runs. In the bottom of the sixth, the Red and Blue hit a hot streak and loaded the bases after three-straight singles. Sophomore Leah Allen then recorded a double, knocking in two runs, while sophomore Alexis Sargent knocked in the tying and winning runs right after Allen's at bat. Senior captain Vanessa Weaver supplied the two-run cushion with a single RBI.
Senior Alexis Borden entered the circle for the final three outs, recording her first save of the season. Freshman Mason Spichiger also earned her first collegiate win.
For the second-straight week, senior Alexis Borden was named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week. In the final-five games, Borden allowed just one earned run across 14.1 innings for a 0.49 ERA. She tossed 15 strikeouts and now leads the Ivy League with 45.
Named the Ivy League's Player of the Week, junior captain Lauren Li earns the title for the first time in her collegiate career and finished a strong spring break campaign with a nine-game hit streak. Li batted .500 and slugged .643 in the final five games of the trip, scoring three runs and driving in two.
Outside of the Ivy League awards, Li was named College Madness’s Ivy Player of the Week (3/10) while sophomore Alexis Sargent was named this week’s Madness Ivy Player of the Week (3/17).