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Miller's Walk-Off HR Splits Harvard Senior Day Doubleheader

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Kelsey Miller heads home after her walk-off home run in the seventh inning of game two.      By Mark Washburn

HANOVER, N.H.  –  Sophomore Kelsey Miller blasted a walk-off home run over the right field wall in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Dartmouth softball team a 2-1 win in the nightcap against Harvard on Sunday afternoon.  

With the win, Dartmouth needs either a sweep in Cambridge tomorrow to claim the North Division Title or a split and a Harvard loss to either Cornell (DH) or Penn to force a one-game playoff. 

In the opener, the game was decided in extra innings, as the Crimson took game one, 2-0. 

Dartmouth junior Kristen Rumley was brilliant inside the circle, as was her counterpart Laura Ricciardone, who combined to scatter 11 hits over eight frames. The Dartmouth ace fanned eight batters with just one walk and one earned run. Ricciardone struck out five hitters and did not allow a walk.

Harvard had an opportunity to take the lead in the sixth, when Andrea Del Conte doubled to left field, but with one-out, a dribbler to Rumley by Katie Lantz turned into an inning-ending double play, as the Dartmouth ace forced a run down with Del Conte between second and third, and then with Lantz, who tried to sneak her way to second base during the initial scrum.

Both hurlers owned the zone throughout the contest, as neither team put a runner past second base until the Harvard eighth. Emily Gusse reached on an infield error to leadoff the stanza and moved to second on a single by Del Conte. With two outs and runners at first and second, Harvard knocked in  the winning run on a double to center field by Lantz. Later in the frame, the Crimson added an insurance marker on a wild pitch by Rumley that plated Del Conte.

Rumley singled to begin the bottom of the eighth, but Ricciardone got a pair of strikeouts and a ground out to preserve the shutout win.  With the loss, Rumley dropped to 15-7 on the season, while Ricciardone improved to 18-5.

The second game started as if it was a continuation of the opener with both pitchers, sophomore Morgan McCalmon and Ricciardone, retiring the sides with a pair of strikeouts and a pop up.  It didn't take Harvard much longer before they took the lead in the second on an RBI double to left field by Gusse.

McCalmon, like Rumley, was outstanding for the Big Green and finished with a career-best 13 strikeouts and zero walks.  She allowed just the one run in the second and one more hit, which came in the third. After that, she blanked the Crimson the rest of the way for her ninth win of the season.

Ricciardone looked fatigued in her second start of the day and was pulled after the fourth inning, but would return to surrender the game-tying run and then Miller's walk-off. In her absence, Morgan Groom pitched a quick 1-2-3 fifth, but was then quickly relieved in the sixth after she allowed a single by senior Kara Curosh, who moved to second after the right fielder botched the relay throw after a fly out. 

Reentering with one out, Ricciardone allowed the tying-run on a 1-1 pitch to sophomore Katie McEachern, who doubled to right field and scored Curosh to knot the game one-all. 

Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Miller needed just one pitch to send the Crimson into the dugout, knocking the pitch over the right field wall.

Dartmouth and Harvard will conclude the season series in Cambridge on Monday afternoon at 2 p.m.