HANOVER, N.H. – The Dartmouth softball team fell to Harvard 7-6, before dropping Game 2, 9-2 at the Dartmouth Softball Park on Saturday evening.
The Big Green are now 11-26-1 overall, 10-8 in Ivy League play, while the Crimson improve to 20-17, 11-7 in conference play.
With the pair of losses, Dartmouth's road to the North Division crown gets more difficult. Should Harvard win at least one game tomorrow in the doubleheader in Cambridge, the Big Green would be eliminated from contention to make the Ivy League Championship Series. Should Dartmouth win both games, the Big Green would take the North Division crown and face Princeton for the title. However, if Dartmouth wins both games and Yale sweeps Brown on Sunday, the Big Green would travel to New Haven for a one-game playoff next weekend.
“It's going to take a resilient response tomorrow,” said Dartmouth head coach Shannon Doepking. “It's going to be the way that we come out and respond. Today is over and tomorrow is a brand new day. If we can get them to stay in the present and take it one pitch at a time, we'll be alright.”
In the early stages of Game 1 it became a pitchers' dual between the Big Green's Breanna Ethridge and Harvard's Kathleen Duncan. Neither team could put a run on the board through three innings, until the Crimson struck first in the top of the fourth with a trio of runs. With two on and one out, Olivia Giaquinto hit a three-run homer to left field. Harvard tacked on another pair of runs in the top of the fifth via another long ball when Erin Lockhart hit a two-run blast to left for the 5-0 lead.
In the top of the sixth, Dartmouth brought in Morgan Ebow to pitch, but after she surrendered two walks on eight pitches, Tessa Grossman came into the circle and got out of the inning. The Big Green got one run back in the bottom half of the inning when Karen Chaw hit a lead off solo home run for her fifth of the season.
The Crimson got two insurance runs in the top of the seventh, which proved to be crucial later in the inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Melissa Lacro hit an RBI single past the shortstop. The next batter, Catherine Callaway reached on a fielder's choice as Calista Almer threw home to get the force out. This brought up Giana Panarieloo who walked to bring in the final run of the inning.
The Big Green had one last chance for a comeback in the bottom of the seventh and nearly pulled off a late-game miracle. After Tiffany Dyson's lead off single, Lourlin Lara hit an RBI double to center field. Trailing 7-2 with one out and the bases loaded, Chaw grounded out to the shortstop, but plated Calista Almer. Next up was Morgan Martinelli who hit a two-RBI single to left field, cutting the lead to 7-5. Taylor Ward was hit by a pitch to put runners at second and third, which set up Claire Bird for an RBI single that scored Martinelli and put the tying run at third with two outs. Dyson, who led of the inning, stepped back into the box and struck out swinging to end the ball game.
In Game 2, it was Ethridge again who got the start and once again, it became a pitchers' dual as both hurlers threw four scoreless innings until the top of the fifth when the Harvard bats exploded for five runs. The Crimson's lead off hitter, Rhianna Rich led off with a triple to right field before Maddy Kaplan hit an RBI single up the middle. Later in the inning with one out, Lockhart hit her second home run of the day, this time a three-run shot to left field to put Harvard ahead, 4-0. The final run of the inning came when Nicki Nishizawa hit an RBI single to left-center which scored Giaquinto.
Dartmouth got one run back in the bottom of the fifth when Claire Bird hit her second homer of the season, which was a solo shot to left field. The Big Green brought back Grossman to pitch the top of the sixth as Rich led off with another triple. She eventually scored on Kaitlyn Schiffhauer's single to right field to put Crimson ahead 6-1.
Harvard tacked on a trio of runs in the top of the seventh to put the game out of reach. Callaway led off with a solo homer to left field, before Kaplan launched a two-run home run that just cleared the foul pole for the 9-1 lead.
Once again, Dartmouth looked to comeback in its last turn at the dish. With two outs, Martinelli came through in the clutch with an RBI single, but this would be as close as the Big Green would get, as Chaw struck out swinging to end the game.
Dartmouth will meet the Crimson tomorrow in Cambridge for the final two games of the series with a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. Both games can be seen live on the Ivy League Digital Network for subscribers.