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Softball Clinches Ivy Championship Series Appearance

Juniors such as third baseman Erin Lockhart will have now appeared in the Ivy League Championship series in all of their years at Harvard.
This weekend marked just one of two series losses Harvard softball suffered all season. On March 26, the Crimson dropped the rubber match against Cornell, and this time around Brown easily handled Harvard in its final regular season game.

However, the Crimson didn’t need a series win as it traveled to Providence, R.I. All it needed was one single victory, and it accomplished that task. On Saturday, Harvard (21-16, 14-7 Ivy) beat the Bears (11-25, 5-13) in the opener to officially clinch a spot in the Ivy League Championship Series for the third consecutive season.

“We’ve had this opportunity two times before, and now we’re just really focusing on playing our game and doing what we can to be the best team we can be,” said junior second baseman Meagan Lantz. “So it’s really exciting that we get an opportunity to extend the season and keep playing with our seniors.”

Lantz collected six hits in nine at-bats and stole three bases. The junior led the team with 16 steals on the season and was only caught twice. Sophomore Olivia Giaquinto also had an impressive weekend at the plate—the first baseman went 5-for-8 with two doubles and two RBI.

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BROWN 11, HARVARD 3, (6 INNINGS)

This game was not a fitting conclusion to Harvard’s season. The Crimson held its own in its preseason tournaments against tough competition, and it proved to be one of the best Ivy League teams from the very outset of conference play. However, Harvard suffered its most lopsided loss of 2018 in the season finale, and it was the only time this year that the Crimson lost a game by the eight-run mercy rule.

“It was definitely a tough weekend,” junior shortstop Rhianna Rich said. “We didn’t want to drop two, but I think it’s going to inspire us to work even harder these next two weeks and kind of give us the motivation that we’re not just going to walk into the Ivy Championship and win.”

Brown scored 10 runs in the game’s first two innings and batted around in the second. Power hitting and walks both allowed the Bears to score in double digits. Harvard’s pitching staff walked five batters, and Brown notched two doubles and a home run. Sophomore Raquel Blanchard notched a pair of two-RBI doubles, and senior Annie McGregor launched a three-run homer in the bottom of the first.

Bears pitcher Grace Ladd stifled the Crimson’s offensive attack in relief, as she tossed 3.2 scoreless innings.

BROWN 3, HARVARD 2

In the most tightly-contested game of the series, Brown prevailed in a classic pitchers’ duel in which Harvard right-hander Sarah Smith matched up against the Bears’ Meghan Wimmer. Ultimately, Wimmer prevailed by bouncing back after a rough first inning in which the Crimson scored twice on an RBI single from Rich and a sacrifice fly from sophomore Lindey Kneib.

Smith shut down Brown’s offense in the first three innings. The junior walked the first hitter she faced and then proceeded to retire the next nine, eight of which were groundouts. In the fourth, Wimmer helped her own cause by singling to center and setting up a second and third situation. Before smacking her RBI doubles in the final game, Blanchard accomplished the feat in this spot as well, knotting the score at two with a poke into the left-center gap.

The deciding run crossed the plate in the Bears’ next trip to the plate. In the bottom of the fifth, back-to-back singles set up an opportunity for third baseman Cat Seitz, who went to the opposite field for a sacrifice fly.

The loss was just the first of the season for Smith. The junior finished her regular season campaign with five wins, a 2.13 ERA, a 1.08 WHIP, and 26 strikeouts.

HARVARD 6, BROWN 1

Harvard officially punched its ticket to the championship series with a sound game one victory. Junior Katie Duncan pitched all seven innings, allowing five combined hits and walks and striking out five. The complete-game effort was Duncan’s ninth of the season, and it marked her 14th win.

“It feels great,” Rich said. “It’s definitely been an up and down season. I think after dropping the series to Cornell it was a bit of a down feeling for us, but being able to come back from that and continue to do well every weekend after that and be able to clinch a spot is really huge for us.”

The Crimson jumped on Brown starter Emily Waters early as it plated three runs in the top of the first. Harvard used a bit of everything to gain this early lead, drawing a walk, lacing two singles and a double, and manufacturing one of the runs on a double steal where freshman Aubree Muse stole second and Lantz raced home.

Lantz was on fire in the first game, going 4-for-4 at the plate and scoring half of Harvard’s runs. She also drove herself in with a blast over the left-field fence to add to the visitors’ lead.

Though the team lost this series, consistency has been key in 2018 for the Crimson. It won five of its seven Ivy League series, and it did not suffer a sweep.

“We knew nothing was going to be handed to us,” Rich said. “It was about coming out each series and working hard to earn our spot in the championship. And we knew that every other team in the Ivy League had strong players, so we never took anyone else for granted, and I think that’s really what helped us get the job done.”

—Staff writer Jack Stockless can be reached at jack.stockless@thecrimson.com.

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