This was not the way the softball team wanted to kick off Ivy League play.
After a rainout on Saturday, the Bulldogs (21-13, 0-2 Ivy) fell twice on the road to Princeton (18-9, 4-0) on Sunday. The Tigers racked up one perfect game, 32 hits, 24 runs and a pair of victories at the Elis’ expense, leaving the Bulldogs searching for a fresh starting point heading into a doubleheader with Penn today.
From the start, it appeared that Sunday would be a struggle. On the Tigers’ first at-bat, a fly ball to left popped out of Courtney Blachford’s ’08 glove, dropping to the ground and igniting a furious first inning blitz. Princeton scored four runs in the frame, capitalizing on the error to take an insurmountable early lead.
That lead became a lot easier to protect after the second, an inning in which the Tigers scored 11 more times. All told, the Tigers racked up 16 runs in Game 1 and won, 16-0.
But four would have been plenty given the outing Princeton pitcher Erin Snyder produced. Snyder struck out 11 in five innings of work — the game was called after four and a half through invocation of the mercy rule — en route to her fourth career perfect game. Pitcher Rebecca Wojciak ’09 said Snyder pitched well but that there were a few chances to produce offensively.
“She is a good pitcher, but we did not do our best, and that also helped her,” Wojciak said. “I think we need to work on our hitting in terms of adjusting to different pitchers. Once we make those adjustments, we’re set.”
The end of Game 1 allowed some time to regroup. Several players suggested the team’s ability to separate Game 1 from Game 2 was evident in improvement as the afternoon progressed. They also said this attitude will be critical in moving past Sunday’s struggles to perform well against Penn today.
“I’m happy with the way we were able to remove ourselves from the first game and focus on the second,” Wojciak said. “We didn’t let what happened in the first game affect us.”
Wojciak was the only pitcher who sustained any success against the Princeton attack. Appearing in relief in both games, Wojciak pitched a combined five and two-thirds innings and surrendered three runs, but both appearances came after the games were well out of reach.
Second baseman Christina Guerland ’07 said she was proud of the rookie’s ability to go into such tough situations and confound the Tigers’ batters.
“Rebecca stepped into a really difficult situation, and she did a phenomenal job,” Guerland said. “They really struggled with her.”
First baseman Megan Enyeart ’09 produced the only run of the day, a solo homer in the fifth of Game 2. But her two hits in Game 2 were not enough to rally back from an early deficit. Instead, Tigers hurler Kristen Schaus closed the door. Schaus pitched seven solid innings and conceded only four hits on the afternoon.
The packed schedule of softball is both a blessing and a curse. The team inevitably tires throughout the season, with pitchers sometimes forced to appear more than once in a single day. But so many games also offer immediate chances at redemption. Such is the case for the Elis, who have a date at Penn today. It will be a chance to get back on track and move up in the standings. The Quakers are only 1-3 in league play and 12-18 overall.
Pitcher Deanna DiBernardi ’09 said that getting Princeton, the league’s elite squad, out of the way so early in the season means the Bulldogs will have an easier road to travel the rest of the way. That journey continues in Philadelphia.
“I think we definitely have the ability to look at this day as just one of those days,” DiBernardi said. “We can come out and play twice as hard [on Monday]. We’re a fighting team.”