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The Dartmouth
June 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Dartmouth loses to Harvard in Ivy League softball tournament

Softball ended their season at the 2024 Ivy League softball tournament with a win against Yale and losses against Princeton and Harvard.

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For the first time since 2018, Dartmouth qualified for the Ivy League softball postseason after sweeping the double header against Columbia University on May 4.

The Ivy League softball tournament, created in 2023, allows the top four Ivy League teams to compete in double elimination fashion. The winner of the tournament, Princeton University, played in the NCAA Regional from May 17 to May 19. 

Prior to the establishment of the tournament, the top two teams would compete in a best-of-three Ivy League Championship Series to qualify for a spot in the NCAA Regional. The last time Dartmouth appeared in the Ivy League softball tournament or Ivy League Championship Series was in 2018 — when they lost to Harvard University in two games despite having the best record in the league. Their last NCAA appearance was in 2015.

The Big Green ended its regular season play on an eight-game winning streak, defeating Columbia 3-1 and then 22-1 on May 4. Dartmouth would have had to defeat the Lions the next day in order to tie Harvard, Princeton University and Yale University for the regular season title. Though the final game of the season was canceled due to weather, Dartmouth still finished the season 13-7. 

“Ending the season strong is so inspiring,” infielder Justice Malone ’27 said. “Being able to go through everything we’ve gone through this season [and] then having the ability to finish the season off strong is so motivational. We’ve gotten the ability to showcase how much we’re capable of in these circumstances.”

Though Dartmouth was not able to claim another title, they excelled in softball’s Ivy League postseason awards. Jensin Hall ’27 headlined the awards as she was named pitcher of the year. 

“I was really happy,” Hall said. “[Winning the award] was not a goal per se, but it was definitely in the back of my mind throughout the whole season. So when I got it, I was just really proud of myself and the hard work I put in.”

With four complete-game shutouts, Hall is the first freshman to win the award since 2003 and first Big Green player since 2015.

Co-captain and catcher Mary Beth Cahalan ’24 was unanimously voted for an All-Ivy first team selection, outfielder Alaana Panu ’25 ended on the second team and co-captain and utility player Kelly Beaupre ’24 received an honorable mention.

“Awards mean less to me than they did at the beginning,” Panu said. “So even though it was really exciting, it was more exciting that for the first time ever being on this team, I was able to go to the Ivy League tournament with my teammates.”

Dartmouth, the number four seed, headed down to Princeton to compete in the tournament on May 8. They first faced the number one seed, Princeton, who had swept Dartmouth in their last matchups on April 13 and 14. However, as Hall had been injured during that series, the Tigers had not yet faced the team’s star pitcher.

The Big Green only managed to get three hits from Princeton starting pitcher Meghan Harrington, and Princeton batters got the best of Hall as the game ended in a 4-0 loss for Dartmouth.

With Harvard defeating Yale earlier that day, the Big Green played the Bulldogs the next day in an elimination game. Dartmouth went up 4-0 in the first inning, enough to etch out a 4-3 victory and send Yale packing.

“Getting those four runs right in the first inning was automatically just a breath of relief,” Hall said. “I can calm down a little bit. I don’t have to be so uptight about all my pitches because I knew my team had my back.”

After losing 3-1 to Princeton the same day, Harvard would be next to take on the Big Green on May 10 in an elimination game.

Hall took the circle again to pitch six innings after having pitched 13 innings in the tournament so far. 

“It was unexpected, but it was a good opportunity for me to grow in my role as one of the two pitchers on the team,” Hall said. “I went down earlier and Rachel McCarroll ’25 had to pick me up, so I had to pick her up this week.”

Dartmouth scored the first run of the game on an error, but Harvard took the lead right back with a 2-RBI double.

Down 2-1 in the top of the third inning with two runners on and no outs, Panu singled to tie the game. After a couple of errors with the bases loaded, the Big Green were able to add two to take the lead. Malone capped the inning with a single to make it 5-2. 

Due to fielding errors by the Big Green, Harvard had the bases loaded with two outs and Ivy League rookie of the year and player of the year Sophie Sun at the plate. The Hall and Sun matchup ended with a 3-RBI single with all the runs unearned to Hall. 

“It’s such a great competition,” Hall said. “We both respect each other’s game. It’s cool to see yourself compete against people like that.”

Harvard’s Lael Ayala doubled in the sixth to make it 6-5, and Harvard pitcher Anna Reed retired the side in the seventh to call game.

“It was definitely a heartbreaker for sure,” Panu said. “It’s bittersweet because we had a fantastic season. The cons are the seniors are leaving, and we’re all super close as a team. We’re pretty sad about that, but we’re all optimistic about the talent that we have going into next year, and the growing doesn’t stop.”

Although this was the end of Dartmouth’s 2024 season, Hall finished the season with 176 strikeouts — the most ever thrown by a Dartmouth first-year pitcher in a season. She was only two away from tying the all-time leader, Kristen Rumley ’15.

“I didn’t know I was only two behind,” Hall said. “My goal is always to beat my numbers from the year prior, so I think that would be really awesome if I did that next year.”

Malone and Panu both ended up on the Ivy League All-Tournament list. 

“I woke up from my nap and I hung out with my friends, and we all were celebrating,” Panu said. “I was with Justice too, so we had a little moment together.”

Even though the 2024 season has ended, the team is still putting in the work to come back stronger next season.

“It’s going to be my senior year, so I’m going to be putting everything that I have into this last season, and that starts in the weight room in July and August,” Panu said.

Dartmouth softball will be back at Softball Park in 2025 in hopes of another chance at the Ivy League softball tournament title.

“I’m looking forward to winning an Ivy League championship,” Hall said. “It was the first time we went, and we got our feet wet. Next year we are going to come and win it all.”