Softball Earns Championship Hosting Rights With Sweep of Brown, 5-0, 5-2

Softball Earns Championship Hosting Rights With Sweep of Brown, 5-0, 5-2

Harvard seniors (left to right): Eve Rosenbaum, Marika Zumbro, Whitney Shaw, Rachel Brown and Jane Alexander.  

Postgame Comments (video)

The Harvard softball team collected its second Ivy League North Division series sweep of the season as it took down Brown, 5-0 and 5-2, Saturday in a doubleheader at Soldiers Field. The win moves Harvard to 28-11 overall and 15-1 in conference play while Brown falls to 8-24 overall and 5-11 in Ivy play.

With the sweep and a Penn-Cornell split, Harvard has earned hosting rights for the 2012 Ivy League Championship Series for the second year in a row. The Crimson will face off against the South Division champion, which will be determined next weekend.  

The Crimson steadily built a lead in Game 1, posting a run each in the first five inning of the game. Jane Alexander reached base on an error by the Brown third baseman and moved to second with her ninth steal of the season. Allison Scott came to the plate and her hot bat came through as she ripped a single to left field, plating Alexander with the game's first run. In the second, Harvard got its run when Whitney Shaw roped a pitch deep to right-center that cleared the fence for her third homer of the season.

Ashley Heritage started the third with a single to left, moved to second on a steal and onto third on a Kasey Lange sacrifice bunt. Heritage came home on a wild pitch, just two pitched before Scott picked up her second single of the afternoon. In the fourth, Camilla Gibson singled to the shortstop and came all the way around to score thanks to an Alexander single and two-base throwing error by Brown. Scott ripped her third base hot of the game with one out in the fifth and pinch-runner Andrea Del Conte scored Harvard's final run of the day when Shelbi Olson singled just past the Brown second baseman.

Rachel Brown was poised in the circle through the game, surrendering just two hits in the game and striking out five in the complete-game shutout. Scott finished the game 3 for 3 from the plate while Scott, Olson and Shaw all had an RBI for the Crimson.

Heritage got things going in Game 2 with a one-out single to center in the bottom of the first and moved to third on a steal and a groundout. Katherine Lantz drove in the first run of the game plating Heritage with a single through the middle. Brown tied the score in the top of the third on a Trista Chavez RBI single, but Harvard reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the inning when Heritage came home on a passed ball.

The hosts picked up some much needed insurance in the bottom of the fifth. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with two outs for Shaw and the senior didn't disappoint, stroking a two-run double off the left-centerfield wall to give Harvard a 4-1 edge. Brown threatened in a big way in the top of the sixth, connecting on three hits, including a Chavez RBI double to left. With runners on first and second and two outs, Harvard starter Laura Ricciardone worked her way out of the jam by getting a ground ball for the last out. Alexander drove in Olson in the bottom of the sixth to stretch the Harvard lead back to three and Ricciardone recorded a strikeout against the final batter to seal the 5-2 score.

Ricciardone picked up her 12th win of the season and fanned a season-best seven batters in the game. Shaw, Heritage and Olson all had two hits in the game, with Shaw notching a game-high two RBI.

Harvard takes the field against April 26 when it travels to Worcester, Mass., for a single game against Holy Cross. Game time is slated for 4 p.m.