CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard softball team (8-9) kicks off its home slate with a mid-week game against Holy Cross (3-15) on Tuesday afternoon (3 p.m.) at Soldiers Field. The game will air on the Ivy League Digital Network. The Crimson has not played in 10 games after returning from its spring trip to California and Hawaii on March 18. Harvard finished a stretch of 12 games in nine games in warm weather with a 5-7 record.
Schiffhauer Stars In Hawaii
Sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Schiffhauer was named to the Rainbow Wahine Classic All-Tournament Team after leading Harvard with four RBIs and an on base percentage of .444 in seven games. In Harvard's 7-3 win over Purdue on March 17, Schiffhauer led Harvard with a single and two RBI in the game. Schiffhauer reached base in four of the five games she started during the Hawaii trip.
Rich and Kaplan Off To Good Starts
Sophomore Rhianna Rich, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year, junior Maddy Kaplan, last year's Ivy League batting champion, are not surprisingly leading Harvard at the plate so far in 2017. Rich has the team's best batting average (.417, 3rd Ivy League) and has recorded a hit in 14 of Harvard's 17 games this season. She also leads the team with five stolen bases on the year.
Kaplan is hitting .368 on the year and is tied for the team lead with five extra-base hits (all doubles). She has scored a team-best 11 runs on the season and has eight RBIs.
Early Success In The Circle
Early on this season, Harvard has been led by strong pitching performances, as the Crimson has allowed three runs or less in nine games this season. Harvard has two of the top five pitchers in the Ivy League based on ERA, with Sarah Smith (4-1, 2.90 ERA, 3rd Ivy League) leading the way. Taylor Cabe (3.28 ERA, 5th Ivy League) has been excellent as well.
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 Holy Cross
The Crusaders (3-15) snapped a 12-game losing streak this past weekend at the Stony Brook Invitational with a 7-2 win over Brown last Saturday (March 25). Leading Holy Cross at the plate is junior first baseman Taylor Moss, batting .373 with 19 hits, 13 RBIs, a .451 slugging percentage and four doubles. Senior second baseman Emily Krisanda leads the team with 21 hits. She also holds a.368 batting average, which is 10th in the Patriot League.
Harvard leads the all-time series against Holy Cross, 43-7. The two teams have not met since the 2012 season, with Harvard winning that game, 10-0.
Ivy League Digital Network
The Ivy League Digital Network returns for a fourth 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.