Harvard vs. Cornell
Harvard vs. Princeton
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard softball team (9-12) will continue conference play this weekend at Soldiers Field when the Crimson take on Cornell (6-11, 1-3 Ivy League) on April 8 and Princeton (11-11, 4-0 Ivy League) on April 9 in doubleheaders. Harvard and Princeton last met in Game 3 of the 2016 Ivy League Championship Series, with the Tigers earning a berth to the NCAA Tournament with an 8-3 win at Soldiers Field.
Shively Has Big Weekend
Sophomore catcher Elizabeth Shively had a big offensive weekend for the Crimson against Penn and Columbia, going 5-for-13 (.385) with a team high five RBI. She was the hero in the series at Penn, notching four RBI, including an opposite field double that plated two runs for the Crimson in the first inning of game 2, giving the Crimson all the offensive it would need in a 2-1 win. She also drove in two runs with a single in game 1 of the series. In two games against Columbia, Shively had three hits, adding a run-scoring fielder's choice.
Rich and Kaplan Off To Good Start
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 (.397, 4th Ivy League) and has recorded a hit in 16 of Harvard's 21 games this season. She also leads the team with six stolen bases on the year. Kaplan is hitting .357 on the year and leads the team with six extra-base hits (all doubles). She has scored a team-best 12 runs on the season and has nine 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 11 games this season. Harvard has two of the top five pitchers in the Ivy League based on ERA, with Sarah Smith (4-3, 3.18 ERA, 4th Ivy League) leading the way. Kathleen Duncan (3.21 ERA, 5th Ivy League) has been excellent as well.
Princeton (11-11, 4-0 Ivy League) is off to a strong start in conference play after sweeping Brown and Yale at home, including two wins by way of the run rule. Entering the week, Tiger senior Marissa Reynolds was No. 1 in the nation in slugging percentage among players with at least 2.5 at-bats per game, slugging 1.022 with 22 hits in 45 at-bats and eight doubles, two triples and four home runs among them. Senior Erica Nori (5-1, 2.70 ERA, 3rd Ivy) leads Princeton in the circle.
Cornell (6-11, 1-3 Ivy League) is in the midst of its busiest stretch of the season with 12 games in eight days during its spring break. Madeline Avery (.341, four doubles, two home runs) leads three regulars hitting better than .325. Sarah Murray (.333, three doubles, five RBI) and Olivia Lam (.325, four doubles, home run, six RBI) are off to hot starts. In the circle, Cornell is led by Maddie Orcutt, who is 2-4 with a 4.45 ERA and four complete games.
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.
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
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.