Harvard at Brown
Harvard at Dartmouth
Harvard vs. Dartmouth
Harvard will play five Ivy League contests this week with a chance to clinch an Ivy North Division crown. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Harvard softball team (18-16, 9-6 Ivy League), heads into the final week of the regular season on a roll, having won five of the last six games and five league contests in a row. Harvard won three games at Brown last weekend (7-4, 4-0, and 5-2) and now sits in a virtual tie for first place in the North Division with Dartmouth (11-24-1, 10-6 Ivy League) heading into the final week of the regular season.
The Crimson will play a rescheduled game at Brown (13-27, 3-12 Ivy League) this week on Thursday at 4 p.m. and will play home and home double headers against Dartmouth this weekend (April 29-30) with the series against the Big Green airing on the Ivy League Digital Network. Harvard will be in Hanover on Saturday for two games starting at 2 p.m., then return to Cambridge for a pair of games starting at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Nishizawa Breaks Through at Brown
Sophomore Nicki Nishizawa had a breakout series at Brown last weekend as Harvard's designated player, helping the Crimson take all three games against the Bears. In three games, Nishizawa went 4-for-10 with five RBI. Her double in the top of the seventh inning of a 7-4 win on April 22 plated the go-ahead runs, allowing Harvard to earn a come-from-behind win at Brown. On Sunday (April 23), Nishizawa added an RBI single in the first inning, allowing Harvard to take a 2-0 lead in a 4-0 win.
Cabe Dominant In the Circle
Senior Taylor Cabe earned Ivy League Pitcher of the Week honors after two standout efforts at Brown. Cabe earned two wins - one in relief, and one as a starter. She pitched two innings in relief on Saturday, allowing no earned runs, striking out one and scattering three hits, allowing Harvard to rally from a 4-2 deficit to earn a 7-4 win over the Bears.
On Sunday, Cabe pitched one of the best games of her career. She pitched a complete game, two-hit shutout, striking out five batters in seven innings to earn her sixth win of the season. Cabe 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.
Lockhart Showing Power, Patience at Plate
Sophomore third baseman Erin Lockhart is enjoying a breakout season at the plate, leading the team with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Lockhart leads the team with 12 extra base hits (eight doubles, four HRs) and has a walk or a hit in 11 straight games, raising her team best on-best percentage to .547. Lockhart also leads the team with 14 walks on the year.
Harvard has been one of the top fielding teams in the Ivy League (2nd), and the nation (.968, 53rd NCAA) this season and has made just four errors in the last eight games.
Sophomore Rhianna Rich leads the Ivy League and is 17th in the nation with five triples on the season. Rich had two triples in Harvard's 5-4 (9 inn.) win against Yale on April 16.
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 (.424, 2nd Ivy League) and has recorded a hit in 27 of Harvard's 34 games this season. She also leads the team with nine stolen bases and 25 runs scored on the year. Kaplan is hitting .369 on the year and is second on the team with 10 extra-base hits (all doubles). She has scored 23 runs on the season and added 17 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 13 games this season. Harvard entered the weekend with two of the top seven pitchers in the Ivy League based on ERA, with Kathleen Duncan (3.43 ERA, 3rd Ivy League) leading the way. Taylor Cabe (3.78 ERA, 7th Ivy League) has been excellent as well.
Brown has set a program record for team home runs in a single season with 29 homers thus far in 2017. Junior Annie McGregor (Carlsbad, Calif.) has provided the Bears with power in the middle of the lineup, registering a .331 average, .621 slugging percentage, 25 runs, 41 hits, nine doubles, three triples, seven homers, and 26 RBIs. Junior Katie Orona (Pueblo, Colo.) and sophomore Meghan Wimmer (Boothwyn, Pa.) have given the Bears two quality options in the circle. Orona has notched a 3.57 ERA over 21 appearances, 17 starts, and 94.0 innings with five wins, eight complete games and 50 strikeouts. She ranks fifth in the league in ERA, fifth in complete games, fourth in starts, seventh in appearances, and eighth in innings. Wimmer has recorded a 4.21 ERA over 21 appearances, 13 starts, and 99.2 innings with six wins, seven complete games, and 41 strikeouts. She stands fourth in the league in innings, seventh in wins, seventh in appearances, and seventh in complete games.
After navigating a difficult non-conference slate, the Big Green hit their stride in Ivy League play. Dartmouth won nine consecutive Ivy League contests before dropping three in a row at Yale to close out last weekend. The Big Green features a balanced offensive attack, with five players hitting over .300, including sophomore third baseman Morgan Martinelli (.313, 6 HR, 22 RBI), senior catcher/outfielder Karen Chaw (.310, 4 HR, 17 RBI) and senior first baseman/utility Maddie Damore (.300, 6 HR, 18 RBI). In the circle, Breanna Ethridge has seen the bulk of the work. Ethridge has a 9-15 record with a 4.67 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 29 appearances, including 16 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.
RELATED ARTICLE: Softball Welcomes Five as Class of 2020
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.