Throughout this season, the softball team has shown itself capable of stifling defense, strong hitting and lights-out pitching — it has just been a question of putting it all together at the same time.
With only four opponents left on the schedule, now would be an ideal time for that synthesis.
This weekend, with the season rapidly winding down, the Elis (13-23, 2-6 Ivy) host a crucial set of conference opponents in their most important home weekend of the season. Saturday, the Bulldogs host league-leading Princeton (29-14, 8-2), winners of four of their last five games, before Penn (13-22, 3-7) comes to DeWitt Family Field on Sunday.
“This weekend is huge,” pitcher Ashley Linnenbank ’06 said. “This is our shot to prove that this team is much better than our record shows. We need to focus and take care of Penn; pulling off the upset against Princeton will be priceless.”
The Elis broke out offensively against Hartford on Wednesday, out-hitting the Hawks in both games en route to posting 15 hits in the twin bill. The first game was a 6-5 Bulldog victory, despite five fielding errors, but Hartford won game two, 3-2, scoring two unearned runs on three more Eli errors.
The Bulldog errors can be partly attributed to the fact that several normal starters did not play due to food poisoning, which roughly half of the team contracted during last weekend’s road games in New York; five of the eight errors were committed by fielders playing in unusual positions. But the Elis recognize that they will have no room for leeway in this weekend’s contests, especially against the high-powered Princeton offense.
“We can’t afford to commit errors this weekend at all,” pitcher Jessica Meyer ’07 said. “That’s what’s going to make or break the game, who makes errors and who plays the best defense.”
The Tigers are an extremely strong team in virtually every dimension of play. The offense is led by a pair of upperclassmen, shortstop Cristina Cobb-Adams and outfielder Melissa Finley. Cobb-Adams leads the Tigers with a .341 batting average and four steals. Finley is not far behind with her mark of .339 at the plate, and she also leads Princeton in home runs (6), doubles (12) and slugging percentage (.591).
On the mound, both of the Tigers’ usual starters have been nearly untouchable this season. Erin Snyder, the current Ivy League Pitcher of the Week, boasts a 13-3 record and a 0.72 ERA, with opposing offenses batting an abysmal .165 against her. Rookie Kristen Schaus has been nearly as impressive, with a record of 11-7, a 1.29 ERA, and a .186 opponents’ batting average.
Only four Tigers have more than three errors this season. Six Elis, including the entire starting infield, have four or more errors this season.
“[Princeton is] really good,” Meyer said. “The pitching is really good and their offense will be there. We just have to keep the ball in the park.”
As for the Quakers, they are currently trying to end a five-game skid. But the Bulldogs know that they are in no position to take a team lightly.
“I don’t think you can take any game for granted,” shortstop Aracelis Torres ’08 said. “In the game of softball, anything can turn the game around, a lucky hit here or there. We have to take them seriously, just like any opponent.”