Harvard will look to build on its 3-1 start to the season in Georgia (Fran Ruchalski).
Harvard vs. St. Georgia Southern (8-7)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard softball team (3-1) is headed south once again this weekend, visiting Georgia Southern to take part in the Eagle Classic March 5-6 in Statesboro, Ga.
The Crimson is slated to play four games during its time in the Peach State. Saturday, March 5 sees Harvard take on Eastern Kentucky (12:15 p.m.) and the host Georgia Southern (4:45 p.m.). Before flying back to Cambridge Sunday, the Crimson will face North Dakota (10 a.m.) and Eastern Kentucky (12:15 p.m.) for a second time.
Visit the Eagle Classic tournament page HERE for live stats and video links.
LAST TIME OUT
Harvard began the 2016 season last weekend at the JU Green and Gold Classic, hosted by Jacksonville University. The Crimson started the year off right with wins over Presbyterian (7-2) and St. Bonaventure (5-3) and followed the next day with a triumph over Jacksonville (11-5). Harvard's lone loss was to Albany, 7-4.
Harvard's 3-1 start to the year is among its best in recent history. In fact, Harvard last won three times in its first four games at the start of the 2002 season when it began 6-0. The Crimson finished that season 31-10 and 12-2 in the Ivy.
GOOD JOB ROOK
Harvard's offense received a major boost to start the year from the immediate impact of freshman Rhianna Rich. The El Segundo, California native captured Ivy League Rookie of the Week after she batted .563 (9-for-16), with four RBI and seven runs scored. She also slugged 1.063 with a pair of triples and a home run. She is the first Ivy Rookie of the Week from Harvard since Maddy Kaplan earned the award after opening weekend last season.
Although Rich accounted for the only triples and lone home run for the Crimson last week, the power bats were spread throughout the offense, as Harvard racked up 12 doubles. Nine different batters recorded a double last weekend, led by three from Maddy Kaplan and two from Giana Panariello.
Through the first four games of the season, Harvard's team ERA is 4.15, identical to the combined ERA of the opponents it faced. The Crimson pitching staff racked up 19 strikeouts on opening weekend, while Taylor Cabe posted a 2-0 record.
SCOUTING EASTERN KENTUCKY
The Colonels boast a 10-2 record and are riding a seven-game win streak heading into the Eagle Classic. EKU opens with back-to-back games against North Dakota before facing Harvard twice and Georgia Southern once. Last week at the Alabama State Hornet Tournament, EKU defeated Akron, Nebraska Omaha, Howard and Gardner-Webb by a combined score of 28-7.
EKU has six starters currently batting over .300 led by the .452 mark of senior Kayla Joyce. Joyce is tied for second on the team with eight RBI and three doubles. Freshman Hannah Clark has led the way with 14 RBI thus far, jacking three home runs on a .350 average. The Colonels are active on the base paths, sweeping 27 bases. Sophomore Paige Murphy leads the charge, going a perfect 8-for-8 on steal attempts.
EKU's pitching staff enters with a 2.27 combined ERA. Junior Alex Sallberg carries the low mark of 1.47 to support a 3-1 record in five starts and 38 total innings of work. Senior Hayley Flynn has a team-high six wins in 10 appearances.
SCOUTING GEORGIA SOUTHERN
The Eagles improved to 8-7 overall after winning its final two games, and going 3-2 in all, at the Coastal Carolina Invitational. GSU played Iowa twice at the event, taking 2-of-3 from the Hawkeyes, while also splitting two games with Coastal.
Redshirt freshman Lydia Witkowski has the top batting average on the team at .389. Her 21 hits are the most for GSU, but only one has gone for extra bases. Run production has come from junior Morgan Robinson and senior A.J. Hamilton who have 12 and 10 RBI, respectively.
Two young arms comprise the Eagles pitching staff in sophomore Kiera Camp and freshman Dixie Raley. The duo each has pitched at least 46 innings with nearly matching ERAs at 3.80 and 3.82, respectively. Raley proves to be the strikeout specialist, boasting 54 on the year to Camp's 12.
Harvard and GS have met once before, exactly six years ago to the day of Saturday's matchup. Playing in Orlando, Florida in 2010, Harvard came away with a 1-0 victory.
SCOUTING NORTH DAKOTA
The Fighting Hawks fell to 3-10 on the year after going 1-3 at the UC Riverside Amy S. Harrison Classic Feb. 26-28. UND dropped its first game to San Diego, were defeated twice by UC Riverside and ended the trip with a 11-5 win over St. Peters. It was only the second win for UND over the last two weeks after it went 1-4 at the UTSA Invitational in Texas Feb. 19-21.
Redshirt sophomore Kaylin VanDomelen and sophomore Shelby Hard are the only two batters hitting over .300 for the Hawks. VanDomelen leads the way with a .343 average and a slugging mark of .571 with five extra base hits. Hard is batting .308 and leads the team with seven RBI.
VanDomelen is also the primary starter in the circle for UND, starting seven games with a 2-5 record and 27 strikeouts. Sophomore Hannah Bergh holds a 1-4 record in five appearances with an ERA at 5.25.
Harvard will head out to California to begin is spring break trip next week. The Crimson is scheduled to play 12 games during its trip, participating in the Loyola Marymount Tournament and the San Diego State Classic II.