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Big Innings Decide Outcomes in Harvard Softball Split with Cornell

Freshman Laura Ricciardone threw seven innings of relief in game two Saturday (Harvard Athletic Communications).

Two innings were the deciding factor in both games Saturday, as Cornell struck for a big third frame in game one to win, 8-1, and Harvard rallied late in game two for a 7-5 victory, as the two first-place Ivy League teams split a doubleheader at Soldiers Field.

The opener saw Harvard's (20-12, 6-2 Ivy League) staff ace Rachel Brown mow down 12 Big Red batters to bring her season strikeout total above the 200 mark at 201. Brown ran into trouble, though, in the top of the third when she walked Cornell's No. 9 hitter Morgan Cawley on an illegal pitch to start the inning. Marissa Amiraian would follow with an RBI triple and Jenny Edwards would drive in Amiraian with a single to make the score 2-0 Cornell (16-14-1, 5-3 Ivy League).

Brown finally got an out on a bunt pop-up to third, but after allowing a one-out single to Kristen Towne, Brown would give up the early final blow, as Erin Belles drove a three-run homerun over the left-field fence to give the Big Red a 5-0 lead. Meanwhile, Cornell's Elizabeth Dalrymple out-dueled Brown by throwing a complete game, one-run two-hitter, striking out ten and walking three for her 10th win of the season. Cornell added runs in the sixth and the seventh, while Mari Zumbro's RBI double accounted for Harvard's lone run in the 8-1 final score.

Cornell jumped on the Crimson early in game two, hitting the first three pitches of the game for a triple, double and single, respectively, and a 1-0 lead.  Freshman Laura Ricciardone came in to relieve Brown, who started the game, and would go the rest of the way. After giving up the first-inning single, Ricciardone retired 14 batters in a row with six strikeouts, allowing her team to take a 2-1 lead with an RBI double by Jane Alexander in the second and a go-ahead RBI double in the third from Whitney Shaw.

Ricciardone ran into trouble in the fifth after getting the first two outs, extending her streak to 14 straight set down. Two infield singles set the table for a Jenny Edwards two-RBI double that pushed Cornell back ahead, 3-2.  They would tack on one more with an RBI single through the right side from Erin Keene to lead 4-2 and complete the three-run, two-out rally.

The Crimson would begin its own decisive two-out rally, however, in the sixth inning. Missing her all weekend, Harvard finally found life in the bottom of the frame when Ellen Macadam rediscovered her bat. Through the first three games of the weekend against Princeton and Cornell, Macadam had gone a combined 0-for-10, despite entering the weekend with a .441 batting average and a .721 slugging percentage.

Things got started with a walk to Allison Scott after Harvard's first two batters failed to hit the ball out of the infield. Freshman Shelbi Olson followed with her first collegiate career homerun to tie the game at 4-4. Alexander would single and Jackie Cooley continued things with a single of her own to set the table for Macadam. Already 2-for-3 in the game, Macadam smacked her team-leading seventh homerun of the season over the right-center field wall to give Harvard a decisive, 7-4 lead. In all, the Crimson would strike for five runs on six hits in the inning, all after two outs had been recorded. 

Harvard has a busy schedule next week, as it plays eight games in six days. Tuesday the Crimson will host Holy Cross in a non-conference doubleheader, then head to Chestnut Hill for a non-conference doubleheader against local rival Boston College. The team returns to Ivy League play Saturday and Sunday with a four-game set against Brown in Providence.