As Harvard softball begins its Ivy League slate, the team finds itself jostling for position within the league, tied with four other teams with a 2-2 record. One factor in the Crimson’s potential rise to the top of the league will be continued dominance on the mound by junior righthander Taylor Cabe.
Taking the mound two straight days over the weekend, Cabe first carved up Cornell’s lineup in a convincing 9-1 win and then shut out Princeton to allow Harvard to escape with a 1-0 victory.
The two wins marked her seventh and eighth of the season out of 12 total victories for the softball team. Cabe’s recent outings in the circle have carried the team even when the offense has struggled to find a groove.
“She has a really great presence on the mound that our team can kind of rally behind,” senior catcher Rachel Halperin said. “Everyone felt very confident with her out there. She did a great job.”
Following a close loss to Cornell, 8-6, in the first game of a doubleheader, Cabe got the nod from coach Jenny Allard for round two and went the distance for Harvard. In seven innings of work, the junior allowed just one Big Red runner to cross the plate.
Cornell’s first four innings at the plate passed by quickly, as Cabe did not allow a single runner to reachbase. Although she lost the perfect game and the shutout in the bottom of the fifth, her performance was more than enough to earn the win due to the Crimson’s nine-run offensive barrage.
Despite only striking out one Cornell batter, Cabe kept the opposition off the bases all game. The Big Red could only muster five hits and one walk in seven innings.
After scoring 15 runs in its doubleheader with Cornell, Harvard’s offense disappeared against Princeton on Saturday. However, Cabe’s brilliance on the mound in her second start of the weekend helped Harvard squeak by the Tigers, 1-0.
“Taylor Cabe threw very well for us in the circle all weekend but really stepped up in that second game,” Allard said.
Cabe pitched all seven innings for the second straight day, and once again surrendered only five hits. She stifled the Tigers’ offense even more so than she did the Big Red’s—Princeton did not draw a base on balls and struck out seven times. The Tigers did not have any extra-base hits in the shutout.
A home run off the bat of sophomore Maddy Kaplan in the fourth inning was the difference between Harvard and Princeton entering the bottom of the seventh, and Cabe only needed three outs to clinch the win for the Crimson.
However, Princeton began to threaten when freshman Keeley Walsh led off the frame with a single down the third base line. Later in the inning, Princeton sophomore Kylee Pierce added another base hit, but Cabe prevented both runners from scoring by striking out the side.
“They got the leadoff batter on, and she just really buckled down. . . and had a huge strikeout to end the game,” Allard said.
Cabe’s ERA now sits at 2.85 for the season, good for fifth in the Ivy League. She and co-captain Morgan Groom, who sits close behind at sixth in the league with a 3.15 ERA, have anchored the Harvard pitching staff, making up for the all-freshmen bullpen experiencing some growing pains.
Following a sophomore campaign in which she posted a 4.12 ERA, the Boiling Springs, S.C. native has made some adjustments and is emerging into an ace in the Ivy League.
“I feel like she’s having a strong year, and she really worked on both her technical consistency on her pitches and her mental consistency and mental toughness,” Allard said.
Over the course of her Harvard career, Cabe has won 21 games and closed out four. This year, and this week especially, Cabe has continued to build on her success in both the rotation and the bullpen.
“I think she’s really hitting her stride physically and mentally this year, and it’s been really good to see from her,” Allard said.
—Staff writer Jack Stockless can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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