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Ivy League Action Starts On The Road For Softball at Princeton, Cornell

Andrea Del Conte leads all Harvard players with eight stolen bases on the season (Photo: Mike Slade).

The Particulars
The Harvard softball team will open Ivy League play this weekend as it heads south to take on Princeton Saturday and Cornell Sunday in a pair of doubleheaders. Harvard has opened its last six Ivy schedules on the road, with its last home league-opening contest coming against Penn in 2007.

Going For The Goal
With the start of Ivy League play this weekend, all eight Ivy League teams will be taking part in a League-wide show of support for Go4theGoal. Teams will be donning special gold shoelaces for this weekend's games, which were purchased by the players to show support and raise funds for the organization. Go4theGoal is a public, non-profit charitable foundation whose funds are used to provide supportive services to children with cancer.

For more information on the league-wide initiative, click here.

Spring Breakers
Harvard wrapped up its annual spring break trip to California Saturday, as it participated in the San Diego Classic II and the Cal State Northridge tournament. The Crimson played 12 games in an eight-day span, compiling a 5-7 record on its west coast swing.

The Crimson closed its spring break trip in fine style Saturday, picking up wins over Cal State Bakersfield (8-2) and Pacific (7-1). Senior third baseman Kasey Lange provided all the offense Harvard would need against the Roadrunners, bashing a pair of home runs in the game and driving in four runs while scoring three. Laura Ricciardone earned the win for Harvard in the circle with a six-inning outing, surrendering just four hits and two earned runs. Rookie Taylor Cabe kept the Pacific bats at bay in the second game, allowing just one run and four hits in a complete-game effort. Katherine Lantz drove in four of Harvard's seven runs and Shelbi Olson, Lange and Emily Gusse all had a pair of hits in the game.

About The Crimson
Ivy play begins with the Crimson holding an 11-11 overall record. The signature win of the season came February 28, when Harvard outlasted No. 22 Louisiana State, 1-0, in a 12-inning battle en route to taking home the Purple and Gold Challenge tournament title.

Kasey Lange is one again the driving force behind the Crimson offense, as she leads the team in batting average (.347), RBI (18), home runs (3) and runs scored (16). Her 18 RBI are the most of any Ivy player, and she is tied with fellow senior captain Shelbi Olson for the team lead in hits with 26. Emily Gusse had provided some nice pop for the Crimson with 12 RBI to date and Andrea Del Conte leads the team with eight stolen bases in nine attempts.

The 1-2 pitching punch of Laura Ricciardone and Taylor Cabe has proven to be effective, as the two have combined to throw 124 of the 159 innings Harvard has played. Ricciardone boasts a 2.42 earned-run average and 39 strikeouts, while Cabe is close behind with a 2.44 ERA and 26 K's. Sophomore Morgan Groom has also been strong in her seven appearances, holding a 2.13 ERA and 26 punch-outs.

Kasey At The Bat
With a stellar week in her home state of California, Kasey Lange took home Ivy League Co-Player of the Week honors for the week of March 24. With 13 hits and a .433 batting average in nine games last week, Lange was the hottest hitter on the Harvard roster, helping the Crimson turn in a 4-5 record. She started all nine games at third base and scored a team-leading eight runs to go along with her 21 total bases. Lange slugged .700 for the week and ripped two home runs in the same game; an 8-2 win over Cal State Bakersfield. She had four multi-hit games on the week and did not commit and error in 28 total chances in the field.

Scouting Princeton
The Tigers have had a tough time finding wins against a strong non-conference schedule, bringing a 5-15 record into the doubleheader with the Crimson. Princeton earned a 6-1 win over Grand Canyon in the opening game of the Santa Clara Marriott Round Robin, but went on to drop the final four games of the event.

Senior Maddie Cousens is the team leader in batting average at .286 while junior Rachel Redina leads all Princeton players with 14 hits. Rookie Haley Hineman has gotten off to strong start, leading the team with three doubles and ranking second with 13 total hits. Sophomore Shanna Christian and freshman Erica Nori have seen the bulk of the action in the circle for Princeton, with Nori boasting an impressive 1.89 earned-run average and Christian leading all pitchers with 26 K's.

Scouting Cornell
The Big Red enters the weekend with a 7-10 overall record, playing early-season tournaments in Virginia and Delaware. Cornell downed George Mason twice in its first four games of the season and put together a three-game win streak to begin play at the Delaware State tournament. In its most recent action, the Big Red dropped a pair of close games to host Delaware State by scores of 2-0 and 3-1. Cornell will square off against Dartmouth in its Ivy opener before facing the Crimson.

Christina Villalon has jumped out of the gate to lead the team with a .351 batting average, and also shares the team lead in doubles with four. Jessica Bigbie is tied with sophomore Meg Parker for the team lead in hits with 14 apiece, while Parker shares the team home runs lead with senior Jenny Edwards. Parker also tops the squad in innings pitched with 41, and has a team-high 31 strikeouts to her credit as well.  

Up Next
Harvard's home opener comes April 1, when the Crimson hosts local non-conference foe Boston College in a doubleheader at Soldiers Field.