North Division Battle Begins as Softball Faces Brown in Pair of Doubleheaders
Harvard enters the series with Brown holding the best record in the Ivy League (Harvard Athletic Communications).
The Harvard softball team opens Ivy League North Division play this weekend with a pair of doubleheaders against Brown in Providence, R.I. The Crimson enters the weekend in the top spot in league standings with a 6-2 record against three South Division opponents.
The Crimson begins its North Division title defense against the Bears after running away with the title last season. Harvard compiled a 17-3 league record last season and went a combined 11-1 against North opponents Dartmouth, Brown and Yale. The Crimson finished the 2010 regular season with a six-game lead in division standings.
Harvard has received contributions from a number of spots in the lineup in its eight conference games. Ellen Macadam has three home runs, 10 RBI and seven runs scored to lead the team, while Kasey Lange has a team-high 12 hits, including five doubles, along with a .444 batting average in 27 conference at-bats. Stephanie Regan is hitting at a .400 clip, punching 10 hits in 25 at-bats.
Rachel Brown has a 3-1 conference record and 45 strikeouts in 28.0 innings of work. Rookie Laura Ricciardone has allowed just seven earned runs in 25.0 innings for a team-best 1.96 earned run average in Ivy play.
Last Time Out
A two-run first inning proved to be too much to overcome as the Crimson dropped a 4-1 decision to local foe Boston College Thursday afternoon. Ashley Heritage recorded a pair of base hits for the Crimson and stole a base as well. Rachel Brown absorbed the loss in the circle for Harvard, logging four strikeouts in five innings of work. Laura Ricciardone pitched a perfect sixth inning, fanning two BC hitters in the frame.
Scouting the Bears
While Brown holds a 10-12-1 overall record on the season, it sits just one game back of the Crimson in the North Division with a 5-3 Ivy record. The Bears split doubleheaders with Princeton and Cornell in their Ivy-opening weekend and split with Columbia and swept Penn last weekend in Providence.
Stephanie Thompson leads the team in most offensive categories, including hits (40), runs (26), batting average (.526), home runs (10) and RBI (23). Kate Strobel is batting an even .400 on the season and is a perfect 5-for-5 in steal attempts on the season. Kristie Chin has seen the bulk of the pitching work, bringing an 8-7 record and 3.67 ERA into the Harvard series. Trish Melvin has started nine games for the Bears and has a 2-4 record on the year.
Brown vs. Harvard – 2010
The two teams played a quartet of closely contested games last April with the Crimson taking the final three to jump out to a comfortable lead in the division standings. The Crimson dropped a 1-0 decision in Game 1 April 18 but put up three runs in the bottom of the sixth in Game 2 on a Jessica Ferri RBI double to split the first doubleheader. A three-run homer from Whitney Shaw in the first inning of Game 1 April 19 helped Harvard to a 4-1 win, and Rachel Brown twirled a four-hit shutout with 14 strikeouts in a 2-0 Game 2 win.
Harvard returns to Boston University for a single game Thursday at 4 p.m. before welcoming Yale to Cambridge for a pair of doubleheaders next weekend.