Softball Prepares for Pair of West Coast Invitationals
Over spring break, the Harvard softball team is heading out west to Southern California to compete in the Loyola Marymount and UC Riverside Invitationals. The team will play seven games in five days. This trip marks the Crimson’s last tournament action before the start of Ivies. With that being said, there is a lot that Harvard wants to work on before it enters into the heart of its season.
“There are a few things that came out of that tournament for us to work on,” junior Erin Lockhart said. “Offensively, we need to make adjustments faster—inning to inning and pitch to pitch. We don’t have room for mistakes and making quicker adjustments will allow us to capitalize more on opportunities. Defensively, it’s a matter of staying solid throughout the entire game, not taking a pitch off at any time.”
The last tournament that Harvard competed in was the Carolina Classic over this past weekend. The Crimson (3-6) left the tournament with just one win, but it was a notable victory against North Carolina. Harvard defeated the tournament’s host, 4-3, led by junior Katie Duncan pitching a complete game, allowing only two unearned runs, and striking out five Tar Heels. Another notable performance was from senior right fielder Maddy Kaplan who batted .364 (4-for-11) with two walks over the four games.
Katie Duncan’s performance in the Carolina Classic earned her the Ivy League Pitcher of the week award for the second straight week. Over the weekend Duncan had a 1-1 record with a 3.06 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, and nine strikeouts.
“Last weekend we were able to play against some really great softball programs,” Duncan said. “When we played UNC and Kansas, each time we scored, our opponents would come right back by either scoring themselves or at the very least upping the pressure with runners on the bases.... Being exposed to these situations...was a great learning experience and chance for our team to grow and get better.”
The Crimson hopes to make these adjustments against their first opponents in the Loyola Marymount Invitational—Southern Utah and Loyola Marymount. Southern Utah has a 2-6 record and is coming off of a 6-5 win against Seattle University on March 4. Harvard’s second opponent that night, Loyola Marymount, is coming off a a doubleheader sweep of Boston University, prevailing 4-2 and 4-3. Overall, the Lions have a 9-10-1 record.
On the following day, the Crimson has another doubleheader, this time against Providence and Florida Gulf Coast. Providence (3-11) has recently played several games on the West Coast against San Jose State, Pacific, and California State Northridge in the Louisville Slugger Tournament. Florida Gulf Coast boasts an impressive 16-4 record and is also on a three game winning streak.
On Sunday March 11, the Crimson faces Southern Utah again in the final game of the LMU Invitational.
The second tournament for Harvard, the UC Riverside Invitational, begins with a showdown against Colgate. In their most recent game, the Raiders picked up their first win of the season against Brown. Later on Tuesday the Crimson takes on host UC Riverside. The Highlanders are 15-6 overall and have won eight of their last 10 games.
“As a team, we are really focused on not changing our approach based on the competition, whether it was Kentucky weekend one, or looking ahead to Yale when we play them the first weekend of Ivies,” Duncan said. “I think it is really important for us to focus on the process of executing each play or pitch within each game rather than who the opponent is and what the outcome of the game might mean for the end of our season.”
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