Maddy Kaplan provided the go-ahead runs in the seventh of game two on a double, leading Harvard to the North Division title (Fran Ruchalski).
HANOVER, N.H. – It took until the final inning of the 2016 regular season, but the Harvard softball team (28-15, 16-4 Ivy) rallied with four runs in the top of the seventh in Tuesday's winner-take-all game to defeat Dartmouth (27-15, 15-5 Ivy), 8-5. The victory secured the Ivy League North Division crown and the right to host the conference championship this weekend against Princeton (21-25, 14-6 Ivy).
The Crimson's seventh inning rally allowed the Harvard faithful to return from Hanover victorious after a back-and-forth battle all afternoon. Dartmouth earned the win in game one, 7-6, using its own four-run rally in the bottom of the sixth to even the team's Ivy League record at 15-4. Game two saw four lead changes, culminating in Harvard's tremendous rally and subsequent three outs in the bottom of the seventh to cap the victory at the North Division title.
Harvard is returning to the Ivy League Championship Series for the first time since 2012 when it beat Penn in a sweep. The Crimson has won three of the five Ancient Eight title series it has reached (2007, 2011 and 2012). The first two games of the series will commence at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 7 at Soldiers Field, with game three to be played on Sunday at 1 p.m. if necessary.
Dartmouth 7, Harvard 6
Harvard took a 6-3 lead into the bottom of the sixth after a Catherine Callaway two-RBI triple, but Dartmouth was able to come back with four runs in the bottom half to take the opening game Tuesday, 7-6.
The long ball served Dartmouth well, as Maddie Damore hit a shot off the centerfield wall to give the Big Green a 2-0 lead after one. The teams exchanged runs in the third with a RBI double from Maddy Kaplan accounting for Harvard's tally and Katie McEachern homer counting for Dartmouth's, pushing the score to 3-1.
The fourth inning saw Harvard take its first lead of the afternoon. Kaitlyn Schiffhauer launched a double to centerfield to bring around Zoe Galindo and Haley Davis, knotting the game at 3-3. Rhianna Rich gave Harvard the one-run advantage with her double to center that scored Schiffhauer.
Callaway added to the Harvard edge with her triple in the sixth that scored Kaplan and Schiffhauer on a play that saw the Dartmouth shortstop and left fielder collide. Trailing 6-3, Dartmouth swung the scoreboard back in its favor in the bottom of the frame. The comeback started with the third Big Green home run of the game and second by McEachern to lead off. Kassidy Williams evened the game with a two-RBI double before Kathy Dzienkowski's sacrifice fly made it a 7-6 Dartmouth lead.
Dartmouth pitcher Morgan McCalmon finished out the complete game effort in the top of the seventh getting the three outs needed to close out the contest.
Harvard 8, Dartmouth 5
Down by one run and facing the final three outs of its season, the Harvard offense put together a spectacular rally that culminated in four runs to put Harvard ahead 8-5 before Morgan Groom closed out the regular season and Harvard's North Division title with three straight outs in the bottom of the seventh.
Harvard's rally started when it loaded the bases with no outs. Callaway pinched hit and singled out to left. Galindo produced a bunt single and Rich walked to bring Kaplan to the dish. The sophomore provided the go-ahead hit when she doubled out to left to score the two lead runners. Schiffhauer quickly followed with a double of her own to score Rich, while Elizabeth Shively tacked on the insurance run with an RBI single to left two batters later.
Similar to game one, Dartmouth grabbed the lead early with a two run double from Lourlin Lara. Harvard's response came in the top of the fourth with three players coming around to score. Shively notched first RBI on a sacrifice fly to left. Standing in the batter's box next was Davis who rocketed a pitch over the right field wall with Giana Panariello on third.
Schiffhauer extended the advantage in the fifth with a sacrifice fly of her own to left that Galindo tagged up on. The roller coaster nature of the afternoon continued in the bottom of the fifth when Dartmouth scored three runs to go up, 5-4. Karen Chaw tied the game with a double out to center that scored two runs and Brianna Lohmann gave the Big Green the lead with a double to left to score Chaw.
With its back against the wall, the Harvard softball team gathered itself and kept its season alive with the four-run seventh and the victory. On the line this weekend will be the Ivy League's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament that Harvard has not earned since 2012.