Four-Run Firsts Lift Softball Past Penn, 4-3, 10-1 (5)

Four-Run Firsts Lift Softball Past Penn, 4-3, 10-1 (5)

Stephanie Regan collected two hits in each game against Penn Saturday (Harvard Athletic Communications).

Jane Alexander Postgame Comments

The Harvard softball team plated four runs in the first inning of two games Saturday, sweeping a twinbill with Penn, 4-3 and 10-1 (5), in a matchup between the top two teams in the Ivy League division standings. The Crimson improves to 19-9 on the year and a league-best 7-1 in Ivy action while Penn dips to 20-13, 5-3 Ivy.

Penn threatened right from the get-go in Game 1 as Sydney Turchin led off with a solid single to right and Elysse Gorney blasted a double down the left field line to put runners on second and third with no outs. Rachel Brown collected herself and took matters into her own hands, striking out the next three hitters to escape the inning unscathed. 

Harvard showed its bats in the bottom of the first as Jane Alexander led off with a solid single up the middle and Shelbi Olson followed with a single to the pitcher. A walk to Kasey Lange loaded the bases and Stephanie Regan ripped Harvard's third single of the innings, plating two with a sharp stroke up the middle. Allison Scott was next up and the sophomore poked another shot through the middle, giving Harvard a 3-0 lead with no outs. Regan came home with Harvard's fourth run of the inning on a wild pitch as the hosts took a four-run advantage after just one inning of play.

Both pitchers were solid through the middle frames as the teams combined for just two hits between the second and fourth innings. The Quaker bats woke up in the top of the fifth as they started the inning with a pair of singles and notched their first run on a towering Turchin double to centerfield. Team RBI leader Kayla Dahlerbruch brought Penn to within one as her single through the left side of the infield scored two more for the guests. Harvard got its second out on a fielder's choice and Brown fanned the final hitter of the inning to escape the jam. Brown re-found her stride, striking out four of the last six hitters to earn her 11th win of the season. 

Brown finished the game with a season-high tying 13 strikeouts. Regan went 2 for 3 at the plate with a run scored and a pair of RBI in the first game. Alexander, Olson and Jessica Ferri all had steals for Harvard in the win and Scott also picked up an RBI in a 1 for 3 showing at the plate.  

It was a repeat performance for the Crimson in Game 2 as the hosts put up a four-spot in its first at-bat. Alexander extended her hitting streak to 10 games with a leadoff single, and a Lange single and Regan walk loaded the bases with one out. Rookie Katherine Lantz came up big in the next at-bat, blasting a single through the middle that scored a pair of runs. After a Scott walk that re-loaded the bases, Regan came home on a wild pitch and Ashley Heritage singled to the pitcher to drive in Harvard's fourth run of the inning.

Harvard hurler Laura Ricciardone benefitted from some stellar defense, keeping the Penn hitters guessing through most of the game. Lantz was back at it in the second inning, singling home pinch runner Eve Rosenbaum and Scott followed with an RBI groundout to make it 6-0 Harvard after just two innings. The Crimson plated three more in the third thanks to a two-out rally sparked by an Alexander single. Two batters later, Lange brought Alexander in with a single through the center of the field and Regan followed with a two-run single to left to push the lead to 9-0. Harvard final run of the day came via a towering triple by Alexander to left-center that scored Andrea Del Conte.

A pair of hits and an error led to Penn's only run of the day, but a groundout to third for the final out ended the game in the top of the fifth as Harvard had a nine-run advantage. Alexander and Lantz both picked up three hits in the game while Lantz led all Harvard hitters with three RBI. Regan and Lange were both 2 for 2 with a pair of runs scored in the game. Ricciardone earned her eighth win of the season in a five-inning outing, scattering four hits and allowing one earned run.

Up next, Harvard will venture back outside of Ivy play for a midweek doubleheader with Rhode Island Tuesday in Kingston. Game 1 is slated to begin at 3 p.m.