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Softball Continues Spring Slate With Purple and Gold Challenge

Harvard begins its stay at the Purple and Gold Challenge with Lamar before taking on No. 23 Louisiana State (Gil Talbot).

This Weekend
After a successful opening weekend at the Florida Gulf Coast Round Robin tournament, the Harvard softball team heads back down south, this time to Louisiana, to take part in the Purple and Gold Challenge, hosted by Louisiana State Feb. 28-March 2.

Last Time Out
The Crimson got off to a strong start in its season-opening weekend at the FGCU Tournament, posting a 2-3 record in five games. The Crimson started off with a decisive 3-0 win over Eastern Michigan where junior Laura Ricciardone threw a three-hit shutout to power Harvard to victory. After a narrow loss to Villanova, the Crimson offense rallied for 10 hits and seven runs in a 7-4 defeat of North Dakota, moving to 2-1 through two days of action. The final day of the tournament saw Harvard drop a 9-4 final to Arkansas and a 3-1 battle to host Florida Gulf Coast.

Honored By The League
Following its first weekend of action, Harvard picked up a pair of weekly league awards as junior Emily Gusse was named Ivy League Player of the Week and classmate Ricciardone was dubbed Pitcher of the Week. Gusse tied for the Harvard lead with seven hits in the tournament, and extended her hitting streak to seven games dating back to last season. Ricciardone fired two complete games for the Crimson and posted 12 strikeouts in 14 innings of work. The recognition was Ricciardone's third of her career while Gusse earned her first ever Player of the Week nod.

About The Crimson
Harvard received contributions from players of all class years in its first action of the season, speaking to the balance that the Crimson will offer this year. Gusse shares the team lead in hits with senior co-captain Shelbi Olson, and both have a pair of RBI to their credit. Senior slugger Kasey Lange cranked her first homerun of the season in the 3-1 loss to FCGU and leads the team with four runs batted in. Freshman catcher Lindsey Hagberg had a nice debut with the squad, bashing a pair of doubles and drawing three walks in 10 at-bats over the weekend, and sophomore Zoe Galindo showed her speed with a team-leading three stolen bases.

The pitching staff boasts a solid 1-2 tandem in junior Laura Ricciardone and freshman Taylor Cabe. The junior allowed just three earned runs in 14 innings this past weekend, while Cabe fired 15.1 frames and came away with nine strikeouts to just four walks. Morgan Groom was effective in her 2.1 innings, totaling four K's, and Gabrielle Ruiz picked up a victory in just 1.1 innings pitched.

Scouting The Field
A talented field awaits Harvard at the LSU tournament, one that includes No. 23 LSU, Lamar, Jackson State and Iowa State. The host Tigers hold an impressive 12-5 record heading into the weekend, and have already notched wins over No. 3 Washington and No. 13 Stanford this season. Lamar has seven games under its belt, heading into the tournament with a 1-6 mark, while Jackson State brings a 5-9 overall record into the LSU tournament. The Cyclones yield the strongest win-loss record of the five tournament teams, having won 12 of 14 games played heading into the weekend.

Up Next
Harvard will get a weekend off March 8-9 before it wings west for its annual spring break trip. The Crimson will take part in the San Diego Classic II March 15-17, face Bethune-Cookman and Loyola Marymount in non-conference action and finish with a stay at the Cal State Northridge Tournament March 20-22.