Despite a sluggish start against out-of-conference opponents, Harvard softball (12-15, 6-3 Ivy) remains in the hunt for the 2022 Ivy League Championship this spring. The team is heating up, most recently with its three-game sweep over Columbia this past weekend, which moved it to second place in the conference standings.
Chasing a three-peat after raising the trophy in both the 2018 and 2019 seasons, the team has moved into the sprint of the season, facing tough competition within the Ivy League each week, where each game has a massive impact on the final rankings.
Recent games against the Princeton Tigers (13-12, 6-3 Ivy) and the Columbia Lions (7-18, 4-5 Ivy) gave the Crimson the chance to flex its prowess in a number of double headers. Harvard dropped a nail-biting series to Princeton at home, and most recently handily swept Columbia on the road.
Last week, the Crimson faced off against Princeton in a three-game weekend series at home on March 26 and 27. Harvard pulled out a strong opener, with a 2-1 win, but fell later in the afternoon, 5-4, and lost again, 5-1, on Sunday. The Tigers remain first in the conference standings.
While the grueling start to the season was marked by constant travel to play against some of the strongest programs in the country, the team has continued to find its groove with each passing week. It has found its drive offensively, consistently scoring earlier in its games than it did in the first half of the season.
In a three-game road series against Columbia on April 2 and 3, Harvard showed up early to take charge. Opening Game 1 with three runs in the first inning, the Crimson set the pace for the weekend, where they deftly swept the Lions, handily winning all three games: 9-1 in five innings, 8-6 in six innings, and 4-1.
A double steal of second by sophomore infielder Molly Dickerson and home by junior centerfielder/utility Teagan Shaw in the series opener was among the many successes that the Crimson achieved over the weekend. Sophomore infielder Kendall Jean recorded four RBI in Game 2, which marked a career high, and sophomore outfielder Lauren Bobowski also set a personal best with three runs.
With 10 hits in the second game of the Columbia series, Harvard again drew from the depth of its lineup, with several players heating up. Junior catcher Allison Heffley maintained her hot streak, recording hits in all three games of the series.
The Crimson’s impressive recent play has been largely driven by senior captain Morgan Melito, who leads the team with 24 hits and 18 RBI. Heffley follows close behind with 18 hits, and Jean with 11 RBI.
Harvard’s pitching has also been strong as of late, with sophomore pitcher Anna Reed opening and closing the series with complete games against Columbia. Additionally, first-year pitcher Katie Arrambide completed her third full game in Game 2, earning a shutout in the process.
This week, Harvard returned to home competition for a local weekday showdown on Apr. 5. A doubleheader against Boston University ended in a pair of tough losses for the Crimson at home, 5-0, and 8-1 in six innings.
Currently, the Ivy League standings have Princeton narrowly ahead of Harvard to the top of the leaderboard, but the close margins and ample games left in the season will make this a tight race for the Crimson. Big upcoming home tilts against Penn on April 9 and 10 and Cornell on April 16 and 17 on the road will further define how the end of the season rankings shake out.
The Penn matchups this weekend will be crucial for Harvard’s championship hopes, as the Quakers currently sit in third in the conference.
–Staff writer Elizabeth Pachus can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
–Staff writer Lucy Connor can be reached at email@example.com.