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Kaylee Grant had 2 hits and 4 RBI's against Yale. Photo Credit: goprincetontigers.com

Princeton softball (5–13, 2–1 Ivy) opened the Ivy League season this weekend with a 2–1 series win against Yale (8–14, 3–3), a solid start for a team that has already experienced plenty of ups and downs throughout the early part of the season. The Tigers began the series with a resounding 8–0 victory on Saturday, which saw five players record multi-hit games, including a four RBI performance from senior infielder Kaylee Grant. Sophomore pitcher Allie Reynolds pitched five shutout innings, giving up just three hits and striking out three. Reynolds, who leads the Tigers in innings pitched and is tied for first in starts, figures to play a major role for the team as it begins the Ivy League season. Last year, Reynolds threw 125 ⅓ of the team’s 246 ⅔ innings, and her role will only increase this season as she has emerged as the unequivocal leader of the pitching staff.

The Tigers built on Saturday’s victory with a 2–0 win on Sunday, followed by a 4–1 loss to close out the series. First-year pitcher Ali Blanchard, making her Class of 1895 Field debut, tossed a complete-game shutout to help the Tigers take the first game of the day. Blanchard struck out seven while allowing only three hits and two walks, stranding four Yale runners on the bases. Sunday’s game marked the continuation of a string of impressive outings for Blanchard, who earned Ivy League Pitcher and Rookie of the Week the week before. The first-year has shared the brunt of pitching duties with Reynolds this season, posting a 5.35 ERA in 36 ⅔ innings pitched.

The Tigers almost closed the weekend out with a series sweep, taking a 1–0 lead into the seventh before giving up four to the Bulldogs. Reynolds pitched six shutout innings before surrendering three in the seventh, and Grant continued her strong play, finishing 3–3 for the game. 

Grant’s strong performances have been a major key to the Tigers’ success throughout the season. The senior has posted a .413/.471/.478 slash line in 46 at-bats this season, far and away the best numbers on the team among regular starters. These statistics represent a marked improvement on her performance last season, in which she posted a .215/.381/.258 slash line in 93 at-bats. She has also put together a strong defensive season so far, with a .985 fielding percentage and only one error.

Second to Grant in batting average is junior outfielder Megan Donahey, who has posted a .333/.439/.333 slash line this season. Donahey was one of the key members of last year’s team, batting .328 while earning All-Ivy League honors along with sophomore outfielder Mackenzie Meyer. Meyer, who batted .326 with seven home runs last season, has gotten off to a slow start this year, posting a .175 batting average with a .195 OBP. The Tigers will need Meyer to return to form if they are to improve on last year’s 8–13 conference record, which saw them finish sixth in the Ivy League.

The Tigers will face Columbia in a three-game set this weekend at Class of 1895 Field. The Lions, who have a 10–10 overall record this season and are coming off of a three-game sweep of Dartmouth, boast a dangerous offense, with a team batting average of .289 and an OPS of .785. Led by sophomore infielder Max Ortega and junior outfielder Sommer Grzybek, who boast a 1.220 and 1.405 OPS respectively, the Lions have scored 91 runs in 20 games this season.

Following their series against Columbia, the Tigers will face Rider in a doubleheader at home before returning to Ivy League play with a three-game set at Brown.

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