Here, apparently, is the softball team's recipe for success: an offense struggling to put runs on the board plus an injury to one of the Tigers' best power hitters, senior left fielder Bevin Keenen.
It doesn't sound fruitful, but throw in solid pitching, opportunistic hitting, a mediocre opponent and a dash of crisp defense and you get a Princeton team reminiscent of the squad that went on a then-NCAA record 37-game winning streak two seasons ago.
It was such a group of Tigers (12-10) that swept yesterday's doubleheader from Drexel at 1895 Field, invoking the eight-run mercy rule in a 9-1 six-inning victory in the first game before taking the nightcap, 10-4.
"(Drexel) helped us a bit, honestly, and I think that took some of the pressure off," said head coach Cindy Cohen, referring to the eight unearned runs Princeton scored on the afternoon. "But I think we're going to get better every game offensively. This was just the start of it."
Batting in the cleanup slot, freshman catcher Devon Keefe picked up the slack left by Keenen's absence in a big way, going 5 for 6 with two doubles, a triple and a home run. Keefe scored three runs and had six RBI on the afternoon.
Fresh off winning three one-run games on their way to the Princeton Invitational title last weekend, the Tigers put away any doubts about the outcome of the first game early on. Princeton jumped out to an early 5-0 lead before Dragon pitcher Kristin Keller had even retired a batter. Fourteen Tigers had batted by the middle of the second inning, at which point Princeton was already up 8-0.
Meanwhile, junior pitcher Lynn Miller was cruising, striking out five while allowing just four hits. Miller had full mastery of the pitches in her arsenal, alternately blowing fastballs past Dragon batters and baffling them with brilliant changeups.
After a couple of defensive lapses that allowed Drexel to score three unearned runs to open the second game, the Princeton offense returned to the form of the first game. A two-out, four-run rally highlighted by junior first baseman Wendy Herm's two-run double gave the Tigers their first lead of the game in the bottom of the second.
Princeton scored nine of its 10 runs in the second game in two-out rallies, pleasing Cohen. Aside from the second inning scoring, Keefe's two-run triple in the fourth and three-run home run over the right-center field fence in the sixth also came with two outs.
"I've been working all year on hitting to the right side, because I'm pretty much a pull hitter," said Keefe, whose double, triple and homer in the second game all went to the gap in right center. "Going to the right side has gotten a lot easier, because I work on it every day in practice, so hard work pays off."
Nineteen runs on 21 hits, including four doubles, two triples and a home run in a doubleheader sweep. Not too shabby when one of your best power hitters is sidelined.