Softball Begins California Spring Break Swing at Loyola Marymount Tournament

Softball Begins California Spring Break Swing at Loyola Marymount Tournament

Erin Lockhart and the Crimson head to California for its first of two spring break tournaments this weekend (Fran Ruchalski).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After spending the first two weeks of the season competing in tournaments in the southeast portion of the country, the Harvard softball team (4-4) will head out west for a 12-game swing through California. Up first for the Crimson is a seven-game set at the Loyola Marymount Tournament in Los Angeles March 11-15.

March 11 – 5 p.m. EST (2 p.m. PST) – Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Harvard
March 12 – 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST) – Harvard vs. Monmouth
March 12 – 3 p.m. EST (12 p.m. PST) – Loyola Marymount vs. Harvard
March 13 – 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST) – Monmouth vs. Harvard
March 13 – 3 p.m. EST (12 p.m. PST) – FDU vs. Harvard
March 15 – 1 p.m. EST (10 a.m. PST) – FDU vs. Harvard
March 15 – 3 p.m. EST (12 p.m. PST) – LMU vs. Harvard

Harvard travelled to Statesboro, Georgia last weekend to play four games at the Eagle Classic hosted by Georgia Southern. The Crimson suffered setbacks on the first day of the tournament to Eastern Kentucky and Georgia Southern. On day two, Harvard started off with a loss to North Dakota, but ended the tournament on a high note with a 5-2 victory in a rematch with Eastern Kentucky.

Harvard is one of just two teams in the Ivy League with a .500 record or better through the first two weeks. Harvard's 4-4 record trails only Brown, which is 7-3 to start the season. The Crimson is second in the Ancient Eight with a .382 slugging percentage and 36 RBI. Harvard's slugging mark is buoyed by its 1.75 doubles per game average that ranks 23rd in the nation.

Sophomore Maddy Kaplan has been the primary perpetrator of the Crimson's doubles this season. She is tied for the nation's lead with a 0.67 per game average with Minnesota's Sam Macken and Drexel's Paula Ueno. Kaplan and freshman Rhianna Rich maintain their positions as two of the best hitters in the conference and nation through the early portion of the season. Rich has been a force since playing her first collegiate game two weeks ago, batting .517, good for second in the Ivy League and 20th nationally. Kaplan's .444 average is sixth-best in conference and ranks 89th in the country.

Defensively, the Crimson has been the best in the field among its Ancient Eight brethren, posting a .978 fielding percentage, which is also good for 13th in nation.

In the circle, the Crimson has four pitchers with at least nine innings of work through eight games. Junior Taylor Cabe leads the way with 18 innings, highlighted by her complete-game victory against Eastern Kentucky last Sunday when she struck out five and allowed just five hits. Freshman reliever Sarah Smith has the low ERA mark on the staff, coming in at 2.80 in 10 innings.

Harvard is slated to play seven total games in Los Angeles. The Crimson will play Fairleigh Dickinson three times, while matching up against Monmouth and LMU twice.

The Knights snapped a 0-5 start to the season with a 7-6 win at UMBC in the second game of a doubleheader March 6. The win helped FDU to a split with UMBC after losing the first game, 9-0.

Through the first six games of FDU's season, freshman Kellie Natham leads the team with a .438 average and five RBI. Her success at the plate has not translated as well in the field, as the Knights' third baseman has three of the team's nine errors. FDU's pitchers have struggled this season, as the staff has a collective ERA of 8.20 and an opponent batting average of .392. Cheryl Lopez earned credit for FDU's lone win. She has the team's low ERA at 6.53 in 15 innings, but has allowed four home runs and 13 walks.

Harvard and FDU met for the first time ever last season at the LMU Tournament, splitting a pair of games. The Knights took the first meeting, 3-0, but Harvard responded with a 7-3 victory the next day.

Monmouth enters the LMU Tournament with an even record at 4-4 after posting a 3-1 mark at the District Invite. The Hawks earned run-rule victories over Georgetown and Maryland and then closed out the event with a 5-4 edging of George Washington.

Senior catcher Jill Freese has had the prominent bat for the Hawks, racking up 10 RBI, two home runs and a .438 average, all team highs. Ashalynn Umiamaka and Rachel Shotzbarger have also been dangerous at the plate, batting .407 and .400, respectively. Umiamaka is also 3-for-3 on steal attempts, trailing only Emma Hill's 4-for-4 mark on the base paths.

Amanda Riley, an All-MAAC Rookie Team selection last season, is the pitching staff leader for Monmouth. The sophomore is 2-1 in eight appearances with a 1.91 ERA. She has 18 strikeouts while allowing 19 hits in 25.2 innings.

Harvard and Monmouth will be meeting on the diamond for the first time in program history.

The Lions sport an 11-6 record and is on a three-game win streak heading into a doubleheader with Boston University Thursday before hosting the LMU Tournament. LMU has been off since March 1 after the Hornet Round Robin in Sacramento, California, originally scheduled for March 5-6, was cancelled. The Lions most recent competition was a doubleheader sweep at home against St. Peter's.

Through the first 17 games of the season, LMU has seven players batting over .300 and five with at least 10 RBI. Sophomore third baseman Alicia Brown leads the team with 13 RBI and holds a .383 average at the dish. Meghan von Behren has the top batting average among players that have started all 17 games at .429, while Shianne Ybarra has a .538 average in nine starts. On the base paths, von Behren is a perfect 8-for-8 on steal attempts.

Rachael Farrington and Hannah Bandimere have handled the majority of the pitching duties, each working over 47 innings. Bandimere has the advantage in strikeouts with 36, but her 3.23 ERA is just shy of Farrington's team-best 3.16. Each has allowed four home runs, while Farrington has also plunked 12 opposing batters.

Harvard and LMU have played eight times since its first meeting in April of 1999. In that span, the Crimson has a 3-5 record against the Lions, including a 5-3 win at last year's tournament.

Harvard will close out the second weekend of its California trip at the San Diego State Classic II March 17-19 with five games against five different opponents.