Weekend Sweep Earns Softball Spot in the Ivy League Championship Series
Ahead of the final four games of the season against Dartmouth, Harvard trailed the Big Green by one game in the Ivy League North Division standings. This exact situation was nothing new for the Crimson.
In 2016, Harvard softball took three of four games in a home-and-home series with Dartmouth, clinching the North Division and earning a berth in the Ivy League Championship Series.
In 2017, however, the Crimson needed only three games to get the job done. With an 8-4 victory in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, Harvard booked its trip to Princeton, N.J. to take on the Tigers in the best-of-three playoff series.
“We’ve overcome a lot of things this year,” head coach Jenny Allard said. “I was really proud of their grit. They stayed the course. We’ve had some people really step up when we had some key injuries.”
All told, the Crimson (22-17, 13-7 Ivy) closed out its season at home with a four-game sweep of the Big Green (11-28-1, 10-10), outscoring the Big Green by a combined tally of 32-12.
Home runs were key for Harvard’s offense this weekend. The team hit nine of its 19 total homers in these four games alone.
“It was finally nice to see them swing with a lot of confidence,” Allard said. “I think it was just a confidence that we could square the ball up.”
HARVARD 8, DARTMOUTH 0 (5 INNINGS)
Seven runs in the bottom of the second and masterful pitching from the freshmen duo of Olivia Giaquinto and Alissa Hiener was all the Crimson needed to shut out Dartmouth in its final regular season game.
Following the seven-run outburst early on, the game was won on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the fifth, as a solo blast off the bat of freshman second baseman Isabelle Haugh gave Harvard an eight-run advantage. The team streamed out of the dugout to meet Haugh at home plate after the first home run of her career.
Having already clinched a spot in the Ivy League Championship Series, Allard opted for her two freshmen arms to handle the pitching duties in the final game.
“It was great just to see two freshmen going out there and doing their job and really stepping up for the team,” said junior right fielder Maddy Kaplan. “It was awesome because we need everyone to win the championship.”
Giaquinto made her fourth start of the season in the circle and fired four shutout innings, allowing only three hits and one walk. Returning from injury, Hiener made her collegiate debut in relief in the top of the fifth. The freshman stranded runners on first and second to preserve the shutout.
“We wanted to get Alissa out there,” Allard said. “She’s come back from a major injury. She’s worked hard to get herself back, and she did a great job for us.”
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