Softball salvages weekend split after pair of tight losses

by Taylor Malmsheimer | 4/22/12 10:00pm

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Although the Dartmouth softball team sits in second place in the Ivy League's North Division, Harvard has already clinched the division with a 15-1 record.
by Ying-Qi Wong and Ying-Qi Wong / The Dartmouth

In Saturday's first game, Dartmouth started off strong, jumping out to a 2-1 lead in the second inning. Rhiannon Saucedo '15 began by drawing a walk and Kristen Rumley '15 followed with a single to right field. Yale starter Chelsey Dunham walked in two runs with the bases loaded to give the Big Green the lead.

The game stayed at 2-1 until the fifth inning, when Yale sophomore Tori Balta belted a two-run home run to put the Bulldogs ahead, 3-2.

In the sixth inning Dartmouth began a rally with a leadoff single from Hillary Barker '12. Saucedo followed with a single, and Dartmouth loaded the bases with a walk. The rally was cut short, however, when all three Big Green runners ended up stranded after a ground out.

In the second game, Dartmouth fell behind early after a three-run first inning by Yale. After the Bulldogs started the game with two singles, senior Meg Johnson hit a two-run double to give Yale the lead. Johnson came home on a Dartmouth error to make the score 3-0.

Dartmouth looked to respond in the bottom half of the inning when Kara Curosh '14 smashed a double to lead off for the Big Green. Noelle Ramirez '13 walked to give Dartmouth two base runners, but they both ended up stranded as Bulldogs starter Kristen Leung secured a couple of ground outs to end the threat.

Yale scored again in the third to make the score 4-0 before Dartmouth finally got on the board in the bottom of the inning. Curosh lined a single to center field, and Kat Hicks '12 and Ramirez both followed with singles. Curosh scored on a Yale error, and Saucedo brought Hicks home with a sacrifice fly.

In the fifth inning, Yale extended their lead to 5-2 with a home run off the bat of junior Christy Nelson. Dartmouth made it interesting in the sixth, as Meghan Everett '12 smashed a double to left field and Alex St. Romain '14 followed with a two-run homer to make the score 5-4. The comeback fell short, however, as the Big Green could not score again to tie the game.

Curosh was 3-for-7 with one run scored on Saturday, and St. Romain was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a home run. In the circle, Barker finished the first game and pitched all of the second, allowing five runs on eight hits in eight innings for the afternoon. Rumley pitched six innings in the first game and became No. 2 on Dartmouth's all-time single-season strikeout list with 111.

"Kristen did a great job today and we're really proud of her," Dartmouth coach Rachel Hanson said. "It's a big deal as a freshman and she's not done yet, so we're pretty excited about her."

For some extra motivation before Sunday's games, team captain Everett played an inspirational speech in the locker room.

"We gathered as a team before the game," Britta McOmber '14 said. "Meghan played this speech that basically said to go all-out and leave nothing behind, just play your game. She kind of pumped us up."

The speech resonated with the team.

"The underlying message was just to fight for every inch of the game," Jonele Conceicao '14 added. "We all really love [the game] and just came out with a new spirit today."

Dartmouth started off Sunday's first game with a bang, scoring four runs in the first inning. With one out, McOmber smashed a solo home run to begin the scoring. Ramirez walked, Hicks singled and a fielder's choice brought Ramirez home. Saucedo drove in two more runs with a single to center field.

Hanson said the team's aggression and maturity were key components of the four-run first inning.

"The girls just came out ready to play and attack, playing our style of softball," Hanson said. "They showed a little more maturity in how they played today and how they approached the game."

In the second inning, Dartmouth added another run. Curosh smacked a triple and McOmber brought her home on a well-executed bunt. The score remained 5-0 until the fifth inning, when Rumley singled to right field to drive in Everett and push the lead to six runs.

The Big Green added two more runs in the sixth to go up 8-0 and win the game by the mercy rule. McOmber led all hitters, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs, two runs scored, a double and a home run.

She cited the team's emphasis on hitting in practice as an important component of the impressive offensive show.

"We've been doing a lot of situational hitting where we have a certain number of chances to move a certain runner," McOmber said. "[On Saturday] we were on the ball a lot better than last weekend. A lot of our hits were being caught but they were hard good hits. Sunday, we just busted it out."

Dartmouth lost no momentum in Sunday's second game. In the second inning, the Big Green went up 1-0 after Conceicao singled to drive Everett home.

A six-run third inning for Dartmouth would prove to be the difference in the game. Dartmouth batted around in the inning, as Everett, Ramirez and Curosh all drove in runs. The Big Green also capitalized on sloppy defense by the Bulldogs, as three errors in the inning contributed to three unearned runs.

Yale used a three-run sixth to make the score 8-4, but Barker pitched a scoreless seventh inning to secure the win and a series split.

"We finally all came together and had a lot of fun on Sunday, and I think it showed," McOmber said.

Dartmouth will play its final six games of the season this week. The Big Green will host Boston College for a doubleheader on Wednesday before a four-game home-and-home series against Harvard University over the weekend.

"We just want to finish well and playing at a high level," Hanson said. "We want to finish strong."

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