Penn, Columbia Host Softball In Ivy Opening Weekend

Penn, Columbia Host Softball In Ivy Opening Weekend

Andrea Del Conte leads all Harvard hitters in batting average at .327 (Photo: Mike Slade).

The Particulars
The Harvard softball team opens its 2013 Ivy League campaign as it travels to Penn and Columbia for a pair of doubleheaders this weekend. Harvard takes on the Quakers Friday beginning at 2 p.m., and faces the Lions Saturday at 12:30 p.m.

Series History vs. Penn
Harvard holds a commanding lead in the series against the Quakers, capturing 50 victories in 63 all-time meetings. Harvard put together a 17-game win streak from 1994-2002, which represents the longest such stretch in the history of the series. Last season, Harvard took all four meetings against a talented Penn squad, including sweeping the Quakers (1-0 and 5-2) in the 2012 Ivy League Championship Series at Soldiers Field.

Series History vs. Columbia
The Crimson also holds a significant edge in the all-time series with the Lions with an 18-8 record in 26 matchups. Harvard is currently riding a six-game winning streak against Columbia, the longest of either team in the history of the series. The Crimson hosted the Lions in a pair of games last April and posted a pair of shutouts (8-0 (6), 4-0) to take the season series.

Last Time Out
The Crimson was firing on all cylinders in its home-opening doubleheader Tuesday, as it faced Rhode Island in a pair of non-conference games. In Game 1, Kasey Lange's three-run homerun in the first inning set the tone for the game, and a six-run second inning allowed Harvard to take a commanding 9-0 edge after just two frames. Lange finished the game with four RBI, while Emily Gusse and Alyssa Siegmann drove in a pair each in the game. Rookie Morgan Groom earned the win in the circle, going four innings and scattering five hits without allowing a run in the 11-1 win.

A hit and three errors allowed Harvard to plate a pair of runs in the bottom of the first in Game 2, and that would prove to be enough to claim the slim, 2-1 victory. From there, hurler Gabrielle Ruiz took over, surrendering just four hits and striking out four batters without allowing a run. Jamie Halula pitched the seventh inning to earn her first collegiate save.

About The Crimson
Katherine Lantz leads all players with 19 hits and is tied for the team lead in doubles (four), second in RBI (11) and tied for second in homeruns (two). Kasey Lange has been a reliable power source, leading the team in RBI (12), homeruns (three) and slugging percentage (.518), while Andrea Del Conte has a team-best .327 batting average.

Morgan Groom is leading a strong group of pitcher for Harvard, holding team-best marks of a 2.24 earned-run average, 50 innings pitched and 42 strikeouts. She also leads the team in wins with three this season.

Scouting The Quakers
With an even 10-10 record on the year, Penn starts its Ivy slate on a six-game winning streak. The Quakers opened their home schedule March 15 and have swept three straight doubleheaders to remain undefeated at home this season. Penn has taken games from Lafayette, Lehigh and Holy Cross in its last three outings.

Samantha Erosa and Brooke Coloma are tied for the team lead with 15 hits each this season, with Erosa leading the team with a .341 batting average and Coloma holding a perfect four-for-four steals mark. Korinne Raby has shown a penchant for the long ball, as five of her nine hits have gone for home runs. She also leads the team with 14 RBI and a .634 slugging percentage. In the circle, Alex Borden returns as one of the most dominant pitchers in the Ivy League. She has already collected five wins on the season, and leads the team with a 1.62 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 69 innings.

Scouting The Lions
Columbia also enters the weekend with a 10-10 record on the year, but will take on Dartmouth Friday before facing the Crimson. Columbia has faced Manhattan in four of its last five games, splitting the contests but falling in its most recent action. The Lions earned a bulk of their wins at the Rebel Spring Games in Kissimmee, Fla., where they rattled off five straight victories from March 15-17.

Nicole Borchard and Emily Snodgrass have been doing it all for Columbia on offense, as the two have teamed for 31 RBI already this year. Borchard leads the squad with a .364 batting average and 24 hits, while Snodgrass has a team-high 17 RBI, four homeruns five doubles and 15 runs scored. Emily Caruthers is close behind with 21 hits and a .339 batting average, and leads all Columbia players with seven steals. Brooke Darling has been Columbia's most effective pitcher, boasting a 1.87 ERA in 48.2 innings, while Emily Kenyon is tied with Darling for the team lead in wins (four) and has a team-high 61 strikeouts heading into the weekend.

Up Next
Harvard returns to Cambridge to kick off a lengthy homestand when it takes on Providence in a doubleheader April 2.