Softball Tops Ball State, 7-6, Falls to Jacksonville, 5-1, In First Action of 2013 Season

Gabrielle Ruiz earned the win for Harvard against Ball State (Gil Talbot).

In its first action of the 2013 season, the Harvard softball team split games against Jacksonville and Ball State Friday at the Florida Atlantic Classic. The Crimson dropped a 5-1 decision to Jacksonville in its season opener, but rallied to win a 7-6 slugfest against Ball State in the second game of the day.

Things started well for the Crimson in Game 1 with rookie hurler Morgan Groom striking out four of the first five batters she faced and escaping a small jam in the second with a double play. The Crimson offense had a bit of trouble getting going and it was the Dolphins who jumped out to a lead midway through the contest. Victoria Brown got Jacksonville on the board with a solo homerun in the bottom of the third and an RBI single and sacrifice fly an inning later gave the Dolphins a 3-0 lead through four innings.

Stephanie Regan responded with a single to first to lead off the fifth, and despite another infield single from Shelbi Olson, the Crimson was unable to push a run across. Freshman Jamie Halula took over in the circle to start the fifth and sat the Dolphins down in order in her first collegiate inning. Katherine Lantz led off the top of the sixth with a solo homerun to get the Crimson on the board, but that is as close as it would get, as Ashley Simon popped a two-run blast in the bottom of the sixth to cap the 5-1 final. Olson and Katie Appelbe notched singles in the top of the seventh, but Harvard was unable to up its run total.

Groom finished the game with four strikeouts and scattered three hits in four innings of work. Halula picked up three K's and surrendered two runs in two innings. Olson finished the game with a pair of singles, while Kasey Lange picked up a double for the Crimson.

Harvard wasted no time in Game 2 getting on the scoreboard as three walks in the bottom of the first loaded the bases for shortstop Emily Gusse. The sophomore lifted a deep fly ball that sailed over the fence for a grand slam, jolting Harvard out to a 4-0 lead after one full frame. Lantz reached base on a two-out single in the Harvard second, and a two-error play by the Cardinals saw the sophomore and Olson cross the plate, extending the Crimson lead to 6-0. A seventh run came across in the third inning when Gusse punched a single up the middle, plating Adrienne Hume for a commanding 7-0 lead.

Gabrielle Ruiz started the game in the circle for Harvard and kept the Ball State bats quiet through three innings, allowing her team to accumulate a lead. The Cardinal offense woke up in the fourth, however, when four doubles in the inning saw four runs come across, cutting the Harvard lead to three at 7-4. A wild pitch from Groom in the fifth allowed a fifth Ball State run to score and Harvard failed to extend its lead in the bottom of the inning, despite a third hit from Gusse and a bunt single from Andrea Del Conte. Ball State would manufacture one more run in the top of the seventh on an RBI groundout, but Ruiz, who re-entered the game, invoked a game-ending groundout to seal the victory for the Crimson.

Gusse had a career day against the Cardinals, finishing 3 for 4 with five RBI and a homerun. Hume picked up a pair of hits in the game and, along with Lantz, scored a pair of runs. Ruiz picked up the victory for the Crimson, scattering four hits in 4.1 innings of work on the day.

Harvard returns to action at the Florida Atlantic Classic tomorrow when it faces Eastern Michigan at 11 a.m., and host Florida Atlantic at 6 p.m.