Maddy Kaplan had the game-winning hit in Harvard's 5-2 victory at Brown on Sunday afternoon. (Gil Talbot)
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Buoyed by two strong pitching performances by Taylor Cabe and Kathleen Duncan and timely hitting by Olivia Giaquinto, Maddy Kaplan and Rhianna Rich, the Harvard softball team (18-16, 9-6 Ivy League) swept a Sunday doubleheader at Brown (13-27, 3-12 Ivy League), winning game 1, 4-0, before earning a 5-2 victory in game 2.
The Crimson have now won five Ivy League games in a row, and move to within a half game of first place Dartmouth (11-24-1, 10-6 Ivy League). Harvard will take on the Big Green in a home and home doubleheader this weekend, playing two games in Hanover, N.H on Saturday before returning to Cambridge for a doubleheader on Sunday. The Crimson will also play a rescheduled game against Brown.
HARVARD 4, BROWN 0
Senior pitcher Taylor Cabe had her strongest outing of the season in the circle, pitching a complete game, two-hit shutout, striking out five batters in seven innings to earn her sixth win of the season.
At the plate, Harvard did all of its damage in the first two innings, taking a 4-0 lead with two runs in the first and second frames.
Rich led off the first inning with a walk, then Brown pitcher Katie Orona hit two consecutive batters with one out to load the bases. Giaquinto's single down the line plated Rich. Then Nicki Nishizawa followed with an infield single to plate another run and give Harvard a 2-0 lead.
In the second inning, Giaquinto again delivered a big hit, this time with the bases loaded and two out. The freshman delivered a single to right field on a 2-2 count to score two more runs and put Harvard ahead 4-0.
That was all the run support that Cabe needed, as the senior set the Bears down in order in the second, third, fourth, and sixth inning, allowing just two base runners total through the first six innings. Cabe closed out the game in the seventh with runners on first and second and two out, inducing a groundout to finish her outstanding game.
HARVARD 5, BROWN 2
A bases clearing triple by Maddy Kaplan in the sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie and helped lift Harvard past Brown in another close game between the two Ivy rivals. Sophomore pitcher Kathleen Duncan was excellent in 4 1/3 innings of relief, allowing four hits and striking out seven batters to help Harvard earn the win.
The Crimson got off to another quick start, scoring two runs in the top of the second inning to take an early lead. Back-to-back singles by Elizabeth Shively and Dallas Hogan put two runners on and a sacrifice bunt by Melissa Lacro put both runners in scoring position.
A bunt single by Kaitlyn Schiffhauer scored one run, then a single by Rich plated another to put Harvard ahead 2-0. Brown responded with two runs in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game at 2-2, with Duncan entering the game to get the last out in the frame.
In the top of the sixth inning, Shively led off the frame with a double to left, and then Harvard loaded the bases with two outs for Kaplan, who doubled to centerfield, clearing the bases and putting the Crimson ahead for good, 5-2.