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Softball Drops 5-4 Decision to Delaware State, Downs North Carolina A&T, 5-1

Kasey Lange (22) launched a pair of home runs Saturday (Photo: Mike Slade).

ROCK HILL, S.C. –
Continuing its trend of splitting tournament doubleheaders, the Harvard softball team did just that Saturday to open its stay at the 2013 Winthrop Adidas Invitational. Harvard started the day with a narrow 5-4 defeat at the hands of Delaware State and rebounded with a convincing 5-1 win over North Carolina A&T. Harvard moves to 3-4 on the season with the pair of results.

Game 1 against the Hornets started well for the Crimson when slugger Kasey Lange blasted a two-out solo homerun down the right field line for her first round-tripper of the season. The lead was short-lived, however, as a pair of hits, an error and four walks in the bottom half of the inning resulted in four runs for Delaware State, allowing it to take a quick 4-1 edge.

The game leveled out from that point with the pitchers finding their groove. Harvard's Gabby Ruiz, who entered the game in the middle of the tumultuous first, settled in nicely, holding the Hornets to three hits in the next four frames and fanning five batters. In the top of the sixth, the Crimson cut into the Hornets' lead utilizing a small-ball approach. Andrea Del Conte led off the inning with a bunt single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Emily Gusse continued to her role as run producer for Harvard, banging a single up the middle to plate Del Conte and push the score to 4-2 after six full innings.

Needing two runs to extend the game, Harvard showed its grit with an exciting two-out rally to tie the game at 4-4. Katherine Appelbe drove a single through the right side and scored all the way from first on the next play when Katherine Lantz ripped a double down the left field line. Del Conte was next up and singled to second base, but a fielding error on the play allowed Lantz to come home with the tying run. Three singles in the bottom of inning loaded the bases for the Hornets, however, and one final base hit through the middle plated the winning run for Delaware State.

Harvard finished the game with eight hits, two coming from Lange and another two coming from Del Conte. Ruiz pitched well in relief, sitting down eight Hornet batters on the day and allowing just one earned run.

Rookie Morgan Groom took the circle for Harvard in Game 2 and had the best outing of her young collegiate career. The freshman surrendered back-to-back doubles in the second which resulted in North Carolina A&T taking a 1-0 lead, but it was smooth sailing from that point on. Groom would surrender just one hit in the final five innings and register eight strikeouts in the complete-game victory.

Lange provided most of the offense for the Crimson against the Aggies, giving Harvard the lead for good in the bottom of the third. Appelbe started the inning by reaching on an error and Lantz followed with a single to put two runners on. Lange plated both players with her second home run of the day, pumping a ball over the centerfield wall for a three-run shot. Lange plated her fourth run of the day in the bottom of the fifth, scoring Del Conte, who walked, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch, on an RBI groundout. Adrienne Hume provided the final exclamation point for Harvard, slapping an RBI single to center to cap the five-run total for the Crimson.

Seven different players registered hits for Harvard in Game 2, led by Gusse's pair in the game. Lange picked up four RBI against the Aggies while Del Conte finished with a pair of stolen bases for Harvard.

The Crimson completes its stay in South Carolina tomorrow with games against Western Illinois (10 a.m.) and host Winthrop (noon).