Softball falls to Big Red, Lions in ECAC tournament

by David Sherzer | 5/13/02 5:00am

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Sometimes, things just don't the way you planned.

That's what happened on Saturday for the Dartmouth softball team. Playing in the four-team, double-elimination Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference postseason tournament, the Big Green went down in a hurry, dropping an 8-0 mercy-rule decision to Cornell in the opener before surrendering a late one-run lead in a 4-3 loss to Columbia.

The losses ended Dartmouth's season at 26-17 (6-8 Ivy).

"It was a tough weekend for us," third baseman Carly Haggard '03 said. "There was no flow to the first game. Before you knew it, they were up 8-0 and then it was the top of the fifth and it was over. The second game was a really good game, but it didn't go our way in the end. It was disappointing."

The Big Green finished the season with the second-most wins in school history, but left Harvard's Soldier Field on Saturday feeling that it could have accomplished more.

Although they matched up well and played close, exciting games with just about everyone on their schedule, the Dartmouth women wound up on the short end of many of the games they most desperately wanted to win, including this weekend's battles on the banks of the Charles River.

"It was definitely an up-and-down season for us," hurler Christine Quattrochi '03 said. "There were tons of high points, but also a lot of low ones. The first Princeton game [a 9-1 loss on April 14] was the only one we were out of. Other than that, we were in just about every game. We always played hard because the desire was always there."

The poor taste left by this year's fourth-place Ivy finish and last-place showing in the ECACs -- which was won by host Harvard yesterday in rainy conditions -- fuels the returning players' collective desire to succeed next year, many of them said in postgame interviews.

The team will lose two-thirds of its outfield in Cherie Comeau '02 and Sarah Damon '02, its second baseman in Kristin King '02 and a clubhouse leader and unsung hero in Carla Giugliano '02, but will return its entire pitching staff, both of its catchers and a throng of young players for the 2003 campaign.

"Overall, we didn't have the year we wanted to have," Haggard said. "But we learned a lot. We had a young team, so hopefully the experience from all of the close games we played will help us in tight games next year. I, for one, think it will."

Quattrochi agrees with her roommate.

"I'm so excited for next year," Quattrochi, the 2000 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, said. "The seniors will be tough to replace because you can never fully replace somebody. But I think we have a really solid core coming back. You could tell that our team was gelling as the year went on because the defense got better as the players got used to playing with each other.

"We learned a lot from this year, and hopefully we won't let the same mistakes happen again."

In the first game on Saturday, Dartmouth simply had no answer to Cornell's meaty offensive attack.

The Big Red plated one run in the first frame before reeling off an impressive seven runs on four hits and one Big Green error in the top of the second.

That inning had an ominous beginning for Dartmouth, as third baseman Sandra Alvarez reached first despite being struck out by Lisa Caruso '04. Caruso's punch-out pitch landed in the dirt and rolled to the backstop, however, allowing Alvarez to reach first base.

The third baseman was eventually cut down on a force play at the plate, but the next seven batters all came around to score, as Cornell was aggressive at the plate in relentlessly piecing together a rally that featured no extra-base hits.

Melissa Cannon and Melissa Heintz had the biggest hits in the inning, each recording two-run singles.

Dartmouth, meantime, got little going offensively, as the Nos. 1-2 hitters were a combined 0-for-6 and only Adrienne Draper '04 managed to get as far as third base.

"The first game was over so quickly," Quattrochi said. "Afterwards, [head coach Steffany Bender] said that she didn't know what happened. None of us knew. [Catcher Jodee Thompson '05] said she didn't know what pitches to call because Cornell was hitting everything. It was just one of those games."

Game Two was closer, as the Big Green claimed a 3-1 lead in the first inning.

All three of Dartmouth's runs touched the dish with two outs. With Thompson on second and King on third, Draper stroked a single to right field to score King. The right fielder bobbled the ball, allowing Thompson to cross the plate with the second run. Draper then scored on a double to left by Haggard.

The Big Green looked to be in good shape, but Columbia cut the lead to 3-2 when Laura Drazdowski went yard in the sixth.

In the next inning, Dartmouth was one strike from emerging victorious. With the bases loaded and two outs, Amber Abrams lifted a Karin Edwardson '05 pitch to left. The fly ball barely curved foul and out of play, however, extending the at-bat.

"There was a huge sigh after that ball dropped," Quattrochi said. "That's how close the game was. If that ball doesn't curve as much, Cherie catches it and we win the game."

Edwardson got the second strike on a changeup that had Abrams completely fooled, but the Columbia sophomore won the battle, lining a 3-2 pitch past shortstop Kerry Conway '05 and into left field, scoring two runs for a 4-3 Lions lead.

Dartmouth went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning, ending the game and the season.

"The season flew by," Haggard said. "It seems like just a couple weeks ago, we were in Florida. Now, we're sitting here, and it's hard to believe we have no more games left.

"But we'll work hard in the offseason and look forward to next year. You can bet that we'll be hungry to win the Ivies."