Morgan Groom and the Crimson host Dartmouth Saturday at 2 p.m. (Fran Ruchalski).
Harvard (25-14, 13-3 Ivy) vs. Dartmouth (26-12, 14-2 Ivy)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard (25-14, 13-3 Ivy) and Dartmouth (26-12, 14-2 Ivy) softball teams will meet this weekend on the diamonds at Soldiers Field and Dartmouth Softball Park with the North Division title and a trip to the Ivy League Championships on the line. The four-game series will begin with a doubleheader in Cambridge Saturday, April 30 at 2 p.m. and conclude Sunday, May 1 in Hanover with two more games, also slated for a 2 p.m. start. All four games can be seen live on the Ivy League Digital Network.
North Division Up For Grabs
Dartmouth holds a one-game lead heading into the final regular-season weekend of the year over Harvard. The Crimson will need to take three of four games from the Big Green to capture the North Division title. Whichever team comes away with the title will host the Ivy League Championship series the following weekend, as both teams will finish the year with a conference record better than the South Division champion.
Owning the Division
Since Ivy League softball instituted the divisional structure in 2007, Harvard and Dartmouth have been the only two teams to finish atop the North Division. Harvard has won five North Division titles in that span, with its most recent coming in 2012 when it went 35-15 overall and 17-3 in conference. Dartmouth has four divisional titles in that span, including each of the last three. Harvard went on to win three Ivy League Championships during the years it won the North, while Dartmouth has defeated Penn each of the last two years in the best-of-three title series.
Harvard enters the final weekend of the regular season as the only Ivy League team batting over .300 at .312, which ranks 47th in the nation. Brown is second at .299, while Dartmouth is fifth at .281. Harvard is also pacing the Ancient Eight in scoring (5.31/game), slugging percentage (.448), stolen bases (1.23/game) and doubles (1.72/game).
The Crimson is also the cleanest fielding team in the conference with a .973 fielding percentage, 10 percentage points better than Dartmouth and Yale. Harvard's .973 mark is good for 16th-best in the country.
Senior pitcher Morgan Groom has been among the best in the Ivy League this season. Her 2.22 ERA is second-lowest in the Ancient Eight. She is also limiting opposing teams to 6.15 hits per seven innings, also the second-fewest in the conference. Opposing hitters are registering a .238 average against the Lowell, Michigan hurler, while 76 have been sent back to the dugout via strikeout, both marks that rank in the top-five in the conference.
The future of the left side of the Harvard infield looks bright, as shortstop Rhianna Rich and Meagan Lantz rank among the best offensive players in the Ivy League. Rich is fifth with an average of .377, while Lantz slots seventh at .363. Rich paces the league in runs scored with 37, hits (52), is fifth in doubles (10), second in triples (four) and third in total bases (76). Lantz finds herself third in the Ivy in slugging (.655), second in RBI (36), third in runs scored (30), tied for third in homers (seven) and fourth in total bases (74).
Lantz's seven home runs and 36 RBI rank ninth and 10th, respectively, in the Harvard single season record books.
Follow the Leader
Who holds the top statistical marks for the Crimson this year?
The Big Green entered last weekend with a three-game lead atop the North Division standings, but a weekend split against Yale allowed Harvard to make up two games. With a 26-12 overall record and a 14-2 Ivy mark, the Big Green is just one game ahead of Harvard in the standings as it seeks its fourth-straight North Division crown.
Dartmouth's pitching has led the charge as sophomore Breanna Ethridge and senior Morgan McCalmon rank first and second the Ivy in ERA. Ethridge, in 75.2 innings, is the lone pitcher under 2.00 at 1.93. She is also leading in opposing batting average by .028 with a .210 mark and has five saves. McCalmon is tied for the third-most innings thrown this season at 117.1 and holds a 2.21 ERA and a league-leading 15 wins. She also ranks second in strikeouts with 102.
The Big Green hitters have done their part though, led by senior Katie McEachern. The short stop boasts the Ivy League's best batting average (.429), slugging percentage (.768), on-base mark (.522) and is tied for the most homers with nine. Freshman Morgan Martinello is fourth in the conference with a .389 average and is tied for the most doubles with 12 this year.
Harvard has a 54-22 all-time record against Dartmouth, highlighted by a stretch from 1985-99 in which the Crimson posted 19-straight victories. Last season, the teams split the two doubleheaders, with three of the four games decided by one run.
Ivy League Digital Network
The Ivy League Digital Network returns for a third season as the home for all live streaming and on-demand video content for each of the conference's eight institutions. Broadcast in full HD and featuring a live score bug and play-by-play and color commentary, the Ivy League Digital Network provides fans with unprecedented access to the Ancient Eight.
Multiple subscription options are available to fans, including school-specific and league-wide passes. To learn more about the Ivy League Digital Network or to sign-up today, click here.
Use the Social Stream on GoCrimson.com to stay connected with the Crimson on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube this year. The Social Stream brings the conversation from all four platforms into one convenient location, allowing fans of all Harvard Athletics teams to monitor the action in real time.