Emily Gusse had two RBI in Game 2 Saturday (Photo: Mike Slade).
NEW YORK – Strong pitching and timely offense was the name of the game, as the Harvard softball team took a pair of games from Columbia, 4-1 and 3-1, Saturday in an Ivy League doubleheader. The wins are Harvard first in Ancient Eight play, moving Harvard to 2-2 in the conference and 9-14 overall. Columbia dips below .500 with the results at 11-13 on the season.
Harvard managed a pair of hits in the first two innings (singles by Kasey Lange and Stephanie Regan) but it was Columbia that was able to push the first run across. After a 1-2-3 first inning for Crimson pitcher Morgan Groom, she had her only hiccup of the afternoon in the bottom of the second when Kayla Shimoda popped a solo homerun to left-center to give the hosts an early lead. Shelbi Olson registered Harvard's third hit of the day in the third, and the Crimson loaded the bases with one out in the fourth, but Columbia pitcher Brooke Darling was able to wriggle out of the jam unscathed.
The runs finally came in the top of fifth, where Olson reached on an error to lead off the inning. Lange, who extended her hitting streak to six games in her first at-bat, cranked a two-run homer to centerfield, swinging the lead to the Crimson and giving Lange her third home run in as many games. Adrienne Hume followed immediately with a base hit, but Harvard ended the inning with a 2-1 lead.
Groom stayed poised down the stretch, surrendering one hit and no runs in the final three frames. A pair of RBI singles from Regan and Olivia Piccione in the Harvard seventh stretched the lead to 4-1, and Columbia was unable to respond in its final at-bat. Groom earned her fourth win of the season in the complete-game effort, surrendering four hits and striking out five on the day. Lange and Regan had two hits each in Game 1, with Lange's two RBIs leading all Harvard hitters.
It was a bit of an ugly start to Game 2 for Harvard, as a pair of fielding errors allowed the Lions to plate a run in the first inning for its second lead of the day. Harvard had a quick response, however, scoring two runs in the second to reclaim the lead in the early going. Regan walked to lead off the inning and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Emily Gusse ripped a double down the left field line, plating Regan to knot the score at 1-1. Alyssa Siegmann advanced Gusse to third with a single through the middle, and Gusse came home on another wild pitch for a 2-1 lead after two.
The Columbia bats were a bit more potent in the second game of the day, but despite collecting hits in the second through sixth innings, Harvard starter Gabrielle Ruiz made sure keep the Lions from crossing the plate again. Gusse came through again for the Crimson in the sixth, bringing home Regan with an RBI single to right, pushing the lead to 3-1. Jamie Halula came in to pitch the sixth and seventh for the Crimson, and the freshman surrendered just one hit en route to collecting the save in the 3-1 win.
Gusse had two of Harvard's six hits in the game and also had a pair of RBI. Ruiz collected her third win of the year, scattering six hits over five innings and striking out two.
Harvard returns home for its next action, as it welcomes Providence to Soldiers Field for a Tuesday doubleheader. Game 1 is slated to begin at 3 p.m.