Softball clinches second consecutive Ivy League title, earning NCAA bid| May 11, 2017
For the second consecutive year, the Princeton women’s softball team has won the Ivy League Championship, earning the team a coveted spot in the NCAA tournament. The team made quick work of Harvard this year, sweeping the Crimson in a doubleheader at 1895 Field.
Game one of the series, played on Saturday afternoon, was a defensive struggle throughout. Through six innings, neither team was able to put a point on the scoreboard. For Princeton, senior pitcher Claire Klausner was dominant throughout. Although she allowed 6 hits and 3 walks, she was able to come through in high-pressure situations with runners on bases in order to prevent Harvard from scoring.
Meanwhile, however, the Princeton offense struggled to find a rhythm against Harvard’s starting pitcher Kathleen Duncan. The Tigers generated plenty of base runners but, like Harvard, were unable to convert any of their opportunities into runs. Thus, the game headed into the seventh and final inning deadlocked in a scoreless tie. Finally, freshman infielder Allison Harvey drove in senior infielder Haley Hineman with a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh to give Princeton the walk-off win and a 1-0 series lead.
Unlike the pitcher’s duel that was game one, game two was a slugfest throughout, with the Princeton offense waking up in a big way en route to a 13-4 romp. Sophomore Kaylee Grant kicked off the scoring in the first with a two-run double. Princeton would go on to score another run in the third and three more in the fourth off of doubles from Harvey and senior outfielder Marissa Reynolds, allowing the team to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
Harvard, despite the long odds against it, would battle back against Princeton starting pitcher senior Erica Nori over the next two innings. An Erin Lockhart home run for Harvard in the top of the fifth narrowed the deficit to two, bringing the score to 6-4. From there, however, Princeton would retake control. The Tigers scored seven runs over the next two innings, receiving contributions from hitters throughout the lineup. Sophomore Riley Wilkinson pitched the final two innings for Princeton and was nearly flawless, allowing no hits and only one walk. After she struck out Lockhart to end the game and series, the team mobbed in celebration around the mound and the boisterous home fans charged onto the field.
The Tigers will find out about their destination and pool play opponents for the NCAA Tournament this Sunday. The team will not enter the tournament as a favorite by any means, but given their resume and talent, potential opponents would be wise to take them seriously.