Harvard vs. San Diego St.
Harvard vs. Cal St. Fullerton
Harvard vs. Longwood
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard softball team (3-2) begins a stretch of 12 games in nine days this weekend at the Louisville Slugger Invitational, co-hosted by Long Beach State and Cal-St. Fullerton. Harvard will open the event with games against San Diego St. and Cal St. Fullerton on Friday (March 10), and will also play Long Beach State (March 11) and Longwood (March 12) during the weekend, closing the event with a second game against San Diego St. on Sunday.
A Solid Opening
Harvard opened the 2017 season with a 3-2 record in five games at the EMU Madeira Beach Invitational (Feb. 24-26), including wins over Detroit Mercy (15-1), Stony Brook (8-1), and Albany (8-4). Junior Maddy Kaplan led the team with a .588 average and eight RBIs on the weekend. For their efforts, Kaplan earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors, and sophomore pitcher Sarah Smith was named Pitcher of the Week. Smith was excellent in her three appearances, recording two wins on the weekend (Detroit, Albany). Against Detroit, Smith went five strong innings, allowing one run on three hits and striking out five for her first win of the season. On Sunday against Albany, Smith came into the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the first inning and kept Harvard in the game, allowing one earned run over the next 4 2/3 innings pitched, striking out five batters to earn her second win of the weekend.
Harvard is set to play 45 games with three early season tournaments on the West Coast and beyond, as well as 13 home games at Soldiers Field.
The Crimson begin the season with trips to Florida, California, and Hawaii to compete in tournaments hosted by Eastern Michigan, Long Beach State/Cal-Fullerton, and Hawaii. Harvard opens the season at the EMU Madeira Beach Invitational from Feb. 24-26. Then Harvard will head west for the Long Beach State/Cal-Fullerton Invitational from March 10-12. The Crimson will head further west from there for the Rainbow Wahine Classic in Honolulu from March 14-18.
Harvard returns to the East Coast the following weekend for an event hosted by Marist on March 25-26, where the Crimson will play two games each against Hartford and Marist. The team's home opener will be a non-conference contest against Holy Cross on March 28. Harvard will round out its non-conference schedule with a game at home against BU on April 4, and a road contest at Bryant on April 11. The Crimson kick off Ivy League play on March 31 with two games at Penn.
COMPLETE SOFTBALL SCHEDULE
Harvard will have a lot of experience when it takes the field for the first time this weekend. The Crimson returns 19 letterwinners from a season ago, including six seniors, and 13 of the 24 student-athletes who are sophomores or juniors. Five freshmen join the team with two hailing from California, with the other three calling Missouri, Texas and Virginia home. The class features one pitcher, one catcher, one infielder, one pitcher/infielder and a utility player.
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Harvard's roster is comprised of players from all over the U.S. with 14 states represented. The stretch of the Crimson reaches as far west as Hawaii with sophomore Nicki Nishizawa, as south as Florida with three athletes calling the Sunshine State home and as close to Cambridge as Connecticut with junior Morgan Macchiarulo.
2016 Season Recap
The Crimson posted a 29-17 overall record last season and a 16-4 mark in the Ivy League which was tops in the North Division. An infusion of youth, good pitching, plus an impressive offensive season from sophomore Maddy Kaplan lifted Harvard to its sixth Ivy League North Division Championship and first since 2012. Kaplan, the Ivy League batting champion (.472), led the way for Harvard's offensive, while freshman Rhianna Rich, the Ivy League Rookie of the Year, led the conference in hits (61) and had a .433 average in league games. Senior Morgan Groom was outstanding (10-4, 2.30 ERA) in the circle for the Crimson, earning Ivy League Pitcher of the Year honors.
All-Ivy Selections Back For More
Harvard placed seven players on All-Ivy League teams in 2016, and will lose just two to graduation – Morgan Groom and second team All-Ivy selection Zoe Galindo, who was Harvard's starting centerfielder and co-captain last year. Returning for the Crimson will be three All-Ivy first team selections – senior second baseman and co-captain Giana Panariello, sophomore third baseman Meagan Lantz, and junior outfielder Maddy Kaplan. Second team All-Ivy selections – sophomore shortstop Rhianna Rich and sophomore catcher Elizabeth Shively – will also lead an experienced Harvard team.
The Harvard softball team was recognized last year by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) as one of the Top-10 Academic Teams in NCAA Division I, posting the eighth-highest GPA nationally.
Last season, the Crimson posted a 3.590 GPA over the fall and spring semester of 2015-16, the highest mark of any school in the Ivy League. Harvard's accomplishment stands out in the Ivy League, as the Crimson joined Yale (40th) as the only conference institutions among the top-50 in the nation in team GPA. In addition, 15 student-athletes from the 2015-16 team were honored as NFCA All-America Scholar Athletes for earning GPAs of at least 3.5 last year. Harvard's 15 selections match last year's number as the most the Crimson have had in recent years. Harvard outpaced the Ivy League with Columbia having nine selections as the second-highest Ancient Eight school on the list.
RELATED ARTICLE: Softball Posts Top-10 GPA in Division 1; 15 Named All-America Scholar Athletes
Scouting San Diego St.
Riding the momentum of a four-game winning streak, the San Diego State softball team (12-7) continues to swing a hot bat, hitting .347 with 118 runs (6.2 runs per game), a .487 slugging percentage and a .410 on-base percentage. Sophomore Molly Sturdivant leads the Aztecs with a .444 average (20-for-45), seven doubles, a .733 slugging percentage and a .537 on-base percentage, while adding two homers and 12 RBIs. Junior Jenavee Peres (Garden Grove, Calif.) leads the team with four home runs, while posting a .393 average and 20 RBIs. Four San Diego State players have pitched at least 20 innings, led by freshman Marissa Moreno (Torrance, Calif.) (6-2, 2.62 ERA, 37.1 IP).
San Diego State leads the all-time series against Harvard, 7-1, with the two teams meeting often recently (six times in the last seven years).
Scouting Cal St. Fullerton
Host Cal St. Fullerton (9-11) snapped a four-game losing streak with a 1-0 win over No. 22 Baylor on Sunday. Senior Lexi Gonzalez continues to make pitchers pay in the three-spot as she currently sits sixth in the Big West with a .375 batting average and fourth in RBIs with 13. Senior Kelsey Kessler has been outstanding in the circle so far this season. The Titans pitcher had an incredible showing this past weekend at the Judi Garman Classic with two complete games (one shutout) against No. 14 Michigan and No. 22 Baylor. Kessler posted 15 strikeouts and finished the week with a 0.84 ERA in 15-plus innings pitched while leading the Titans to a walk-off win over the Lady Bears on Sunday night.
Cal St. Fullerton leads the all-time series against Harvard, 3-0. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2001.
Scouting Long Beach St.
Tournament co-host Long Beach St. (6-10-1) looks to regroup after losing 4 of 5 at the Judy Garmen Classic. Sophomore Nichole Fry has been the key hitter for Long Beach State thus far in 2017. The shortstop has started all 17 games and his hitting .348 wwhile leading the team with a .609 slugging percentage and reaching at a .475 rate. Pitcher Christina Clermont returns for her third season with Long Beach State after earning first-team All-Big West honors in each of her first two seasons at LBSU. The 2015 Big West Co-Pitcher of the Year, Clermont went 23-12 one season ago and struck out 205 batters in 230.1 innings pitched. In 2017, Clermont leads the team with 51 innings pitched, and has a 4-4 record with a 3.29 ERA.
Long Beach State leads the all-time series against Harvard, 4-1.
Longwood (6-10) has won three of the last four games heading into the tournament this weekend. A two-time defending Big South champion, Longwood is led by Senior southpaw Elizabeth McCarthy earned back-to-back Big South Pitcher of the Year honors. McCarthy, along with sophomore sensation Sydney Gay, lead a Longwood pitching staff that ranked among the top-25 in the NCAA a season ago with a 2.29-team ERA.
Longwood won the lone meeting between the two teams on March 11, 2007.