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Ali Blanchard threw nine scoreless innings to clinch a series win for Princeton Saturday. Photo Credit: Beverly Schaefer / GoPrincetonTigers.com

Facing off against Penn (18–13 overall, 9–6 Ivy League) in a three-game set this weekend, Princeton softball (12–17, 8–4) almost recorded its second series sweep of the season, taking the first two games of the weekend before dropping the third.

The first game of the weekend saw two Tigers record multi-RBI performances, with sophomore outfielder Mackenzie Meyer and senior outfielder Kaitlyn Waslawski both bringing in two runs. Waslawski’s RBI came on a two-run shot in the second inning, her second of the season. Senior catcher Keeley Walsh also drove in a run with a two-out single in the third, pushing her season total to a team-leading 18. Sophomore pitcher Allie Reynolds turned in a strong performance, giving up two runs while striking out three in a complete-game effort.

The strong pitching continued into the first of Saturday’s games, which saw first-year pitcher Ali Blanchard throw nine scoreless innings in a 1–0 Tigers win. Blanchard gave up just three hits and struck out seven to help the Tigers overcome a lackluster offensive showing, in which they went scoreless for eight innings and stranded seven runners on base. The Tigers finally broke through in the top of the ninth, when Waslawski plated the winning run with a sacrifice fly.

In recognition of Saturday’s dominant performance, Blanchard was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week, her second time this season. Blanchard, who leads the Ivy League in opposing batting average and is third in strikeouts, has played a significant role in the Tigers’ success throughout the season. She has split the starting pitching duties with Reynolds, and has thrown 62 of the Tigers’ 175 innings this year and has been particularly stellar recently, giving up just three runs combined in her five most recent appearances.

The Tigers lost the final game of the series 14–5, in a game that saw Penn explode for eight runs in the third and five in the fourth. The game was not without bright spots for the Tigers, however, as senior infielder Kaylee Grant hit a grand slam in the fifth, the first for the Tigers since Emily Viggers ’16 hit one in April of 2016. Grant is now second on the team in RBI, and she leads the team in OBP, slugging percentage, and batting average.

Saturday’s loss brought an end to the Tigers’ six-game winning streak, their longest of the season. They are now third in the Ivy League standings, trailing Harvard and Columbia by a game. They will face Lehigh in a doubleheader at Class of 1895 Field this Wednesday before returning to Ivy League play with a three-game series against Harvard.

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