HANOVER, N.H. – The Dartmouth softball team wrapped up a strong 2018 season in the Ivy League Championship Series, falling to Harvard in both games Saturday, 6-4 in game one and 4-1 in game two. As the first-place conference team, the Big Green hosted the series and because the Crimson won the ILCS the teams will be Ivy League Co-Champion for the year.
Dartmouth finishes the season with a 22-18 overall record. Harvard has clinched the automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Softball Championship regional round that begins next week, with a 23-16 mark following the wins.
“I’m just proud of my kids, we’re proud of the fact that we got here,” said head coach Shannon Doepking. “When you look back, in the beginning of the year we were predicted to finish fifth in the Ivy League, so the fact that we got back here is definitely something to be proud of. To win the regular season, again being picked to finish fifth, we had an amazing year.
“We did a lot of things well, grew a lot as a team and we’re super young, the seniors laid a great foundation. This program is back where it is supposed to be and I couldn’t be more proud of what they have done for this program, and we’ll be back. We’ll be back here next year.”
In game one the home team struck first, on a Schae Nelson RBI single to bat in Micah Schroder from second base. Schroder recorded the first hit of the day for either team on a leadoff double in the third, and then scored the first run of the day from Nelson’s hit.
Harvard evened the score in the fourth, on a single from Elizabeth Shively, bringing home Erin Lockhart from second base. The home team didn’t back down from the challenge though, taking the lead again on an RBI double from Taylor Ward followed by a two-run homer from Loghan Thomas in the bottom of the fifth, taking a 4-1 lead.
The Big Green have played a handful of games this year where the trailing team has come back to either tie the game or take the lead, and that would turn out happen again. Neither team scored a run in the sixth and it seemed like Dartmouth would hold the lead through the final three outs, but the Crimson scored five runs in the top of the seventh, all with two outs on the board.
Harvard’s first runs of the inning came on a two-run home run from Meagan Lantz to cut the lead 4-3. Two more runs were scored on a two-run RBI single to right, followed by one more single RBI to left field. The Crimson took the lead and entered the seventh inning just three outs away from sealing one win in the series.
Schroder led the inning with a walk before the next three batters were retired, giving Harvard the win in game one. All three Dartmouth pitchers appeared in game one, as senior Breanna Ethridge got the start and Heather Turner came in to pitch two innings with Shelby Wilkison closing the game. The trio allowed eight hits, six runs and four walks with four errors total, Ethridge finished game one with four strikeouts.
In game two the Big Green played as the visiting team, batting first. Harvard would take the advantage in the second game, as Lockhart batted in two runners on a single to left center in the bottom of the first. With a 2-0 lead the Crimson held on defensively, only allowing one hit through four innings. Harvard put up one run in the third and another in the fourth, extending the lead as Dartmouth remained scoreless.
Neither team scored through the fifth and sixth innings, the Big Green were able to get three hits in during the fifth, before a single from Claire Bird turned into a double play for the base-runners.
Dartmouth got its run in on an RBI single from Bird in the top of the seventh with two outs to cut the lead 4-1, before a pop up ended the game. Turner started in the circle for the second game and pitched 3.1 innings allowing seven hits, four runs and one walk with four errors. Ethridge came in for relief, tossing the final 2.2 innings recording three strikeouts.
The Big Green finish the year not only as co-champions of the Ivy League but also in first place after being selected to finish fifth in the preseason poll and coming in fifth last season.