This weekend, Harvard softball traveled to Athens, Ga., to participate in NCAA Regionals after winning the Ivy League Championship Series over Dartmouth. The Crimson’s playoff trip was its first since 2012, when it ultimately lost to Washington, 4-0, in the final round of the regional.
CALIFORNIA 10, HARVARD 1 (5 INNINGS)
With Northwestern winning its first game over California, the Crimson (23-18, 14-7 Ivy) and the Golden Bears (35-21, 7-16 Pac-12) met for an elimination game on Saturday afternoon. California maintained a balanced attack all game, scoring two runs in each inning to cut the game short after five innings and advance to the next contest.
Golden Bears pitcher Kamalani Dung was the difference-maker, as she pitched all five innings, gave up two hits, and struck out nine batters. Dung spun a perfect game with 12 strikeouts earlier this season against UTEP.
One of the two hits against Dung was a rocket, however. Junior co-captain Kaitlyn Schiffhauer launched a high fly ball to right center in the third inning, just missing a home run by a matter of feet. Junior shortstop Rhianna Rich followed with a bloop single that dropped in behind second baseman Lindsay Rood, which allowed Schiffhauer to race home with Harvard’s lone run of the game.
After pitching an inning of scoreless relief in the team’s opening game, junior Sarah Smith got the start in its second bout. Smith tossed 1.2 innings and lost just her second game of the season.
Eight different California batters recorded hits against Harvard’s staff. Three of these hits went for extra bases, with freshman left fielder Mikayla Coelho smacking a two-run homer in the top of the first to kick off the scoring.
GEORGIA 6, HARVARD 2
No. 7 Georgia (45-11, 16-8 SEC) represented the highest-ranked team Harvard would play all season. The Crimson held its own through seven innings of play but ultimately did not manage to mount much of an offensive attack against the Bulldogs’ pitching.
Georgia jumped on the board with three runs in the bottom of the first, which would prove to be all the offense it would need for the afternoon. Sophomore second baseman Justice Milz provided some early pop, knocking a home run over the center field wall in her first at-bat.
Harvard quickly answered with two runs of its own in the top of the third. With runners on the corners and two outs, junior third baseman Erin Lockhart laced a triple to right center, scoring co-captains Schiffhauer and Maddy Kaplan.
However, the Bulldogs did not relent, adding another run in their own half of the third and two more in the bottom of the fifth. Their pair of fifth-inning tallies came courtesy of RBI doubles off the bats of sophomore third baseman Jordan Doggett and senior left fielder Cortni Emanuel.
Harvard junior southpaw Katie Duncan got the start in the circle, and she went five innings. Despite allowing 14 combined hits and walks, Duncan buckled down and only allowed six Georgia baserunners to score. Her Bulldogs counterpart Mary Wilson Avant likewise threw five frames, though she did not concede an earned run and struck out eight Crimson.
—Staff writer Jack Stockless can be reached at email@example.com.