Softball Starts Conference Slate at Cornell, Princeton

Harvard will face Cornell in a rematch of the 2011 Ivy League Championship Series Friday (Gil Talbot).

The Particulars
The Harvard softball team kicks off its Ivy League schedule with doubleheaders at Cornell Friday and at Princeton Saturday. The matchup with the Big Red is a rematch of last year's Ivy League Championship Series, where Harvard posted two shutouts to take the 2011 league crown.

Last Time Out
Walks proved to be the downfall for Harvard in its home opener as the Crimson surrendered 13 free passes in a 15-6 loss to Bryant Tuesday. Jane Alexander and Camilla Gibson crossed the plate in the third inning, helping the hosts to a 3-1 lead, but a nine-run fifth by the Bulldogs was too much to overcome. Singles by Allison Scott and Kasey Lange led to a three-run Harvard sixth, but Bryant added two more in the top of the seventh to cap the game's scoring.

Series History: Cornell
Friday's games will be the 61st and 62nd matchups between the Crimson and Big Red, who kicked off their series in 1982 with a 10-0 Harvard victory. The Crimson holds a 38-22 all-time lead in the series, including a stretch of 21-straight wins from 1984-97. Harvard has also won the last three meetings between the teams.

After splitting a doubleheader during the regular season last April, Harvard hosted Cornell in the 2011 Ivy League Championship Series after the Big Red hosted, and defeated, Harvard in the league championship a year earlier. The Crimson pitching and defense were superb, as Rachel Brown and Laura Ricciardone blanked Cornell, 5-0 and 4-0 respectively, to claim the fifth league title in school history.

Series History: Princeton
The Tigers have represented a tough test for the Crimson since the teams' first meeting in 1981, a 10-5 Princeton victory. Harvard didn't claim its first victory against Princeton until 1997, but has gone 20-11 in games since. Princeton holds the all-time series lead, 41-20, and also captured a victory in the teams' most recent meeting.

In Game 1 of last season's doubleheader, Brown allowed just two Princeton hits and struck out 10 batters in a 7-0 win. Allison Scott blasted a home run and went 3 for 4 with four RBI, and Stephanie Regan and Lange collected a pair of hits each in the contest. Solo home runs by Lange and Alexander gave Harvard its runs in Game 2, but a three-run Princeton seventh gave the Tigers a 3-2 victory.   

Pitching Prowess
For the fourth time in four weeks of conference awards, a Harvard pitcher has been named Ivy League Pitcher of the Week as Laura Ricciardone received the nod March 27. The sophomore didn't allow an earned run in 15 innings of work last weekend and went nine innings in a 1-0 shutout of Lehigh to cap her week. Rachel Brown collected three straight Pitcher of the Week accolades to begin her senior season.

Up Next
Harvard travels to Providence, R.I., to take on the Friars Tuesday in a single game beginning at 4 p.m.