Big Green Weekend Primer

by Blaze Joel and Brett Drucker | 4/30/15 7:30pm

We’ve come to one of the biggest sports weekends of the year, with the NHL and NBA playoffs in full swing and the Kentucky Derby set for Saturday. Despite the national sports scene, it is a relatively quiet weekend for Big Green athletics, as only six teams are in action. We’re taking a different approach to this week’s primer, and rather than focusing solely on the Big Green’s competitions, we’re choosing one Dartmouth series and a second Ivy League game that directly impacts the Big Green.

Softball Ivy League Championship Series vs. University of Pennsylvania

(Saturday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.)

For the third year in a row, the softball team (23-16, 16-4 Ivy) faces Penn (22-18, 13-7 Ivy) for the right to play in the NCAA tournament as the Ivy League’s automatic qualifier. Penn bested the Big Green two seasons ago, although the Dartmouth women managed to gain the upper hand and claim the Ivy crown last season. Both series went the full three games. This season, the women will bring the competition to Hanover, giving the Big Green the home field advantage in the series. The advantage has proven to aid many of the teams who have claimed the Ivy crown in the last decade, including each of the last two seasons when the home field corresponded to the victorious team between Dartmouth and Penn.

These two teams have been dominant forces in the Ancient Eight this season, and the series will feature the league leaders in batting average, RBI, ERA, wins, home runs and strikeouts. Members of both teams make up four of the top five in the Ancient Eight in batting average and home runs, and both schools combine to command all five of the top spots in RBIs. Earlier this season in Philadelphia, the teams split a pair of one-run games, with the Big Green defeating the Quakers 3-2 before falling 5-4 in the second game.

Katie McEachern ’16 and Kristin Rumley ’15 power the Big Green from the plate and mound, respectively. McEachern leads the league in batting average and home runs, while placing fifth in RBIs. Rumley leads the Ivy League in ERA and wins and places second in strikeouts. Penn relies less on the long ball than a Dartmouth team that places three in the top five in the league in homers, but is no less fearful at the plate. The Quakers have outscored the Big Green 199-189 this year due to their proficiency at small ball. Penn boasts three of the top five batting averages in the league, as well as the top three RBI totals. Penn pitcher Alexis Borden has had a stellar year in the circle and, while she merely boasts a .500 record and an ERA north of 3.00, her strikeout total is off the charts. Borden has struck out 140 batters this season, 20 more than second place in the league Rumley.

Like the last two years, expect this one to come down to the wire between two very balanced teams.

PREDICTION: Dartmouth wins the series 2-1

Lou Gehrig Divisional Playoff: University of Pennsylvania vs. Columbia University

(Saturday at 2 p.m.)

Twenty games were not enough to decide the Lou Gehrig Division in the Ivy League. Both Penn and Columbia sit at 16-4 in the league, with 22-14 and 26-14 overall records, respectively. To add more intrigue to the game, Penn and Columbia split their final four contests of the season against each other, with the Lions winning the final game in 10 innings to force the playoff in Philadelphia.

The winner of this game will host the Ivy League Championship Series next weekend against the Big Green, which saw its 14-game winning streak halted at the hands of Amherst College last week. The Big Green split the season series with both teams, going 1-1 on the road in both cases in two close games.

The Gehrig Division playoff will be a hard-fought contest that pits strength against strength. Columbia, led by outfielder Joe Falcone, has belted the ball around the field this season, leading the Ancient Eight in both runs and home runs. Not to be outdone, however, the Quakers rank third in runs scored and second in big flies. On the other side of the ball, the Quakers lead the Ivy League in ERA and runs allowed, while the Lions place second in ERA, third in runs allowed and tied for first in strikeouts.

This matchup seems like a classic toss up. Either team could and has won against the other, including on the road. This game will come down to experience and who cracks first under pressure. Columbia, who has been to the last two Ivy League Championship Series, has a definite experience advantage over the Quakers. In the end, the Lions’ experience will take them forward to a battle for the Ivy crown against Dartmouth.

PREDICTION: Columbia 6-4