If close games are believed to age a person rapidly, this weekend's Princeton Invitational should get the softball team's players thinking about pension plans.
After three extra-inning games in round-robin play, Princeton finally managed to avoid another such nail-biter when it defeated Hofstra yesterday, 1-0, in the championship game of the tourney played at 1895 Field. Every game the Tigers played this weekend was decided by one run.
Princeton (10-10) rode the right arm of junior pitcher Lynn Miller to three wins in the tournament, two of them coming over the second-ranked team in the East, Hofstra (15-10).
Watch the windmills
Miller (6-5) especially shone in the championship game, striking out nine Flying Dutchwomen while allowing just six hits. She also did not issue any walks en route to garnering the tournament's MVP honors.
"I felt really strong," Miller said. "I made sure I took a lot of time to warm up, something that I haven't been doing. It really loosened me up."
Senior left fielder Bevin Keenen scored the game's only run in the bottom of the first inning on a wild pitch from Hofstra's Jen Smith. When sliding into Smith, who was covering the plate on the play, Keenen received a deep laceration from Smith's spikes and was taken to the hospital for observation. Her status for tomorrow's doubleheader against Drexel is unknown.
Miller took over from then on, cruising through all but two innings. In the fourth, she faced a two-on, no-out situation. But after a pop out and an interference call on Hofstra's Alicia Smith, Miller shut the door by fanning the Flying Dutchwomen's Keri-Anne Boller on a nasty change-up.
'Keep them off balance'
"I know what those hitters can do, and I know what I have to do," Miller said. "Basically I try to move it in and out, keep them off balance and keep that one girl (Boller) from hitting the ball."
Princeton advanced to yesterday's championship game after compiling a 2-1 record in round-robin play.
Saturday, the Tigers beat Hofstra, 3-2, in eight innings when junior shortstop Tanya Hendricks slid around the tag of Hofstra catcher Jen Pawol. Hendricks dashed home after the Flying Dutchwomen threw to first base to nail freshman outfielder Carrie Breslin, who had bunted.
"Their corners are slow and big, and were playing back the whole game, so it was a good risk," freshman catcher Devon Keefe said.
Princeton suffered its only loss of the tournament against fourth-ranked Boston College (13-4) in the wildest game of the two days. After trailing 2-0 early, the Tigers built a 5-2 lead heading into the seventh behind RBI base hits from sophomore second baseman Kamilah Briscoe and junior first baseman Wendy Herm.
Backs to the wall
Down to their last out in the bottom of the seventh, however, the Eagles scored three runs. Pitcher Lauren Fischetti capped the rally with a run-scoring single to right off Miller, who had relieved sophomore pitcher Sarah Peterman.
After a scoreless eighth, Boston College pushed the winning run across on Summer Jarratt's RBI single to right in the bottom of the ninth.
Despite the loss, Princeton showed marked improvement over its disappointing 5-7 spring break trip to South Carolina. Senior pitcher Alyssa Smith tossed a shutout against Robert Morris (1-3) in the Tigers' first game, and the team committed only two errors in four games.
"I think the thing I'm most pleased about is our defense getting better," head coach Cindy Cohen said. "We were really inconsistent with our defense while we were down south. Our pitching has been good enough to win. We just haven't given them the kind of support they've needed."
With just 16 hits in the tournament, the Tigers' offense did not contribute much. And if Keenen's injury proves to be serious, Princeton could be without its most productive hitter for a while.
Still, Cohen is not overly anxiety-ridden over the team's early struggles at the plate.
"I think the hitting will come," Cohen said. "I've thought all along we'd be a good offensive team. Right now I don't look very smart. But I still believe we have the athletes to be a very good offensive team, and I think this weekend we hit the ball hard – just right at people. If we can do that, we'll be fine."