Softball Excited to Begin 2018 Campaign in Orlando

Harvard softball opens the 2018 season this weekend in Orlando (Gil Talbot).
Harvard softball opens the 2018 season this weekend in Orlando (Gil Talbot).

Harvard softball opens the 2018 season this weekend at Citrus Classic (Gil Talbot).

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard softball opens up its 2018 schedule this weekend with five games in three days at the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla. All games will be broadcast on Flosoftball. 

Schedule of Games
Friday, Feb. 23            Purdue at 12:30 p.m.
                                  Miami (Ohio) at 3 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 24        Duke at 3 p.m.
                                  Kentucky at 5:30 p.m.
Sunday, Feb. 25          Louisville at 9 a.m.

2018 Outlook
The Crimson opens the 2018 season with five games in three-days at the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Fla. on Feb. 23-25. While in the Sunshine State, Harvard's schedule consists of two ACC teams (Duke and Louisville), one Big Ten squad (Purdue), and one SEC program (Kentucky). Harvard will head back on the road the following weekend opening the North Carolina Invitational with two games against Elon University and, host, North Carolina on Mar. 2. Before kicking off its northeast schedule, the Crimson makes one last excursion, spending five days in southern California beginning with the Loyola Marymount Invitational on Mar. 9. Harvard returns to the northeast to commence Ivy League play with two, three-game series on the road against, rival, Yale on Mar. 17-18 and Cornell on Mar. 24-25.

Scouting Purdue
Purdue is 1-8 in 2018 with its lone victory coming against South Dakota in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. on Feb. 10. Stephanie Ramsey leads the Boilermakers hitting .391 (9-23) with a staggering 1.049 OPS (.609 SLG%, .440 OBP), while Mallory Baker has driven in a team-high six baserunners. In the circle, Kaitlynn Moody is 1-4 on the young season with a 5.62 ERA and 16 strikeouts.

Scouting Miami (Ohio)
Miami (OH) is 1-4 to begin the season. Freshman pitcher Courtney Vierstra has started four of five games in the circle for the Redhawks registering a 4.20 ERA along with a four-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio. Senior outfielder Megan Wurts is a .286 hitter (4-14) with a .660 OPS (.357 SLG%, .333 OBP). 

Scouting Duke
Duke enters the Citrus Classic at 6-3. Blue Devil freshman right-hander Katherine Huey was in the national spotlight being named the ESPNW's National Player of the Week after posting a 2-0 record with 10 strikeouts, while helping her own cause with a 1.167 slugging percentage against Penn State and Purdue in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. 

Scouting No. 23 Kentucky
Kentucky is riding a five-game winning streak, heading to Florida with a 5-2 record. Hitting .344 (67-195) as a team, junior shortstop Katie Reed and senior pitcher Erin Rethlake lead the Wildcats with identical .400 (10-25) batting averages. Additionally, Rethlake has been dominant in the circle, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.80 ERA and 10 strikeouts.

Scouting Louisville
Beginning its 2018 season at 6-3, Louisville is coming off a 2-2 record at the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, which included a double-header sweep of Northwestern on Feb. 16. Caitlin Ferguson leads the Cardinals with a .364 (12-33) batting average with four doubles and three RBIs, while posting a .917 OPS (.485 SLG%, .432 OBP).

2018 Ivy League Preseason Poll
The first year the Ivy League conducted a preseason ranking, Harvard was picked to finish second receiving a total of 114 points, including five first place votes in a vote by media members, sports information directors, and national media.

Full Release: Softball Tabbed Second in Ivy League Preseason Poll

All-Ivy Returners
Harvard tied Dartmouth, Penn and Princeton with the most All-Ivy League selections in 2017, and will return all seven All-Ivy honorees in 2018. Lead-off hitter and shortstop Rhianna Rich, who was one of the nation's top hitters last season, earned first team honors along with outfielder Maddy Kaplan

Full Release: Seven Members of Softball Team Earn All-Ivy Recognition

Classroom Success
Harvard garnered the NFCA's Top-10 Academic Team honors for the third straight year, earning a combined 3.588 GPA, the highest mark of all the Ivy League institutions. Additionally, a program-best, 17 Crimson athletes received individual All-America Scholar-Athlete honors.  

Full Release: Softball Earns NFCA Top-10 Academic Team Honors

The Class of 2021
Harvard softball welcomes three newcomers to the squad in 2018: Morgan Melito (Westlake Village, Calif./Westlake), Aubree Muse (Rineyville, Ky./Central Hardin), and Alyssa Saldana (Riverside, Calif./Martin Luther King, Jr.). 

At the Helm
Jenny Allard is in her 24th season as the head coach of the Harvard softball program, posting a 587-436-3 overall record, including a 281-107-1 mark against Ivy League opponents. Team and individual success has always gone hand-in-hand with Allard with six Ivy League titles, six 30-win season, and five NCAA Championship berths. In addition, she has produced 67 first team, 64 second team, and 41 honorable mention All-Ivy selections as well as seven Ivy League Player of the Years, six Pitcher of the Years, and six Rookie of the Years.

Harvard Magazine: Steering Softball 

Ivy League Network
The Ivy League Network returns for a fifth 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 Network provides fans with unprecedented access to the Ancient Eight.

Multiple subscription options are available to fans, including school-specific and league-wide passes. To learn more about the Ivy League Network or to sign-up today, click here

What's Next
Harvard returns to the diamond next weekend opening the North Carolina Invitational on March 2 against Elon (2:30 p.m) and host North Carolina (5 p.m.).