Softball Captures Purple and Gold Challenge Title With 5-4 (11) Win Over Jackson State

Softball Captures Purple and Gold Challenge Title With 5-4 (11) Win Over Jackson State

Katherine Appelbe drove in a pair of runs Sunday against Jackson State (Photo: Mike Slade).

In its third extra-inning affair of the weekend, the Harvard softball team once again rallied for a win, besting Jackson State, 5-4 in 11 innings Sunday to capture the tournament title at the Purple and Gold Challenge. The Crimson finishes its second tournament of the season with a 6-4 overall mark on the year.

Junior pitcher Laura Ricciardone was named to the All-Tournament team for the Crimson, with her highlight performance coming in a 12-inning shutout of tournament host No. 23 LSU. 

Harvard got the scoring going early, plating runs in the second, third and fourth innings. Rookie Jillian Leslie gave Harvard a 1-0 lead in the second, knocking an RBI infield single that allowed Catherine Callaway to score, and Shelbi Olson crossed the plate on a double steal in the third. Andrea Del Conte walked, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch in the third and Katherine Appelbe brought her home with a single down the left field line. Appelbe came home to score Harvard's fourth run on a fielding error by JSU, launching Harvard out to a 4-0 lead.

The top of the fifth proved problematic for the Crimson with Jackson State bringing home three runs despite not recording a hit in the inning. Three walks loaded the bases for Jackson State and runs came home on a passed ball and two fielder's choices. The Crimson maintained its lead up until JSU's final at-bat, when the Tigers manufactured the game-tying run on a fielder's choice to push the game to extra innings. Harvard nearly ended it in the bottom of the ninth when Katherine Lantz led off with a double, prompting the Tigers to intentionally load the bases to keep the force on. However, a fielder's choice and a foul pop allowed Jackson State to escape the inning.

The Crimson finally posted the winning run in the 11th, when Del Conte moved to third on an Adrienne Hume sacrifice bunt, and Appelbe came through with an RBI single to plate the winning run for Harvard. Appelbe finished the day 2 for 4 with two RBI and a run scored while Morgan Groom earned the win in the circle, firing six innings and striking out seven while allowing just one run.

Harvard has next week off and then travels west for its annual spring break trip, which begins at the San Diego State Tournament March 15-17.