Harvard at Princeton
Harvard at Princeton
Harvard will take on Princeton this weekend in the 2017 Ivy League Championship series. (Gil Talbot)
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – After winning nine of its last 10 Ivy League contests and seven of its last eight games overall, Harvard softball (22-17, 13-7 Ivy League), the Ivy North Division champions, takes on Princeton (23-18, 15-5 Ivy League), champions of the South Division in the Ivy League Championship series. Harvard heads to New Jersey this weekend for Games 1 and 2 of the series on Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m.. Game 3 will take place on Sunday at 3 p.m., if necessary. All games will be played on the Class of 1895 Field at Princeton and can be viewed on the Ivy League Digital Network.
Harvard has won six Ivy Championships all time, with its last title coming in 2012. The matchup between Harvard and Princeton is a rematch of the 2016 Ivy League Championship series, which the Tigers won in three games at Soldiers Field.
Giaquinto, Lockhart Lift Harvard to Ivy North Title
Freshman Olivia Giaquinto and sophomore Erin Lockhart both earned Ivy League weekly honors after leading Harvard to four wins against Dartmouth last weekend. Giaquinto was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week, while Lockhart earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors.
Giaquinto helped Harvard to a 4-1 record and an Ivy North Division title with a monster week at the plate and a solid performance in the circle. In five games, GIaquinto went 7-for-15 (.467) with three home runs, 10 RBIs, and five runs scored. In Game 2 on Sunday, Giaquinto also pitched four shutout innings, scattering three hits to earn her second win of the season. Lockhart continued an impressive streak of 16 straight games with either a walk or a hit, going 6-for-12 (.500) with six runs scored, two HRs, seven RBI, and four walks in five games last week.
Lockhart Showing Power, Patience at Plate
Sophomore third baseman Erin Lockhart is enjoying a breakout season at the plate, leading the team with six home runs and 33 RBIs. Lockhart leads the team with 15 extra base hits (nine doubles, six HRs) and has a walk or a hit in 16 straight games, raising her team best on-best percentage to .515. Lockhart also leads the team with 18 walks on the year.
Harvard has been one of the top fielding teams in the Ivy League (2nd), and the nation (.969, 47th NCAA) this season and has made just four errors in the last seven games.
Sophomore Rhianna Rich leads the Ivy League and is fifth in the nation with seven triples on the season. Rich had two triples in Harvard's 9-2 win at Dartmouth on April 29.
Rich and Kaplan Set The Table
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, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year, has the team's best batting average (.426, 2nd Ivy League) and has recorded a hit in 30 of Harvard's 39 games this season. She also leads the team with seven triples, nine stolen bases and 29 runs scored on the year. Kaplan is hitting .364 on the year and is second on the team with 11 extra-base hits (10 doubles, home run). She has scored 27 runs on the season and added 20 RBIs.
Success In The Circle
Throughout the season, Harvard has been led by strong pitching performances, as the Crimson has allowed three runs or less in 15 games this season and lead the Ivy League with a 3.65 team ERA. Harvard entered the weekend with two of the top seven pitchers in the Ivy League based on ERA, with Kathleen Duncan (3.52 ERA, 5th Ivy League) leading the way. Taylor Cabe (3.83 ERA, 7th Ivy League) has been excellent as well.
On the season, the Tigers are hitting an Ivy-best .303, two spots ahead of Harvard (.285). Princeton's 4.17 ERA is one spot behind the Crimson (3.65). Marissa Reynolds (.450) leads all Ivy regulars in batting average. In Ivy play, Princeton's .336 batting average led the league and the Tigers' 2.73 ERA in conference was also best in the Ancient Eight. Princeton's Megan Donahey led the Ivy in stolen bases during conference play, swiping 10 in 12 tries. Nationally, Princeton entered the week in the top 10 percent of the nation in fielding percentage (10th, .977) and doubles per game (18th, 1.54). Reynolds was fourth in the nation in doubles per game (0.41), sixth in slugging (.890), seventh in OBP (.563), eighth in batting average (.450) and tied for 15th in total doubles (16).
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.
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.