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Softball extends winning streak to seven with sweep of Blue Hens

The softball team sauntered onto 1895 Field yesterday riding a five-game winning streak thanks to a rejuvenated offense that had produced 32 runs in the last four games. Led by freshman catcher Devon Keefe's .571 batting average during that span, Princeton cruised to easy victories over Drexel and Temple.

So in a matchup between the Tigers' recently torrid hitting and Delaware's 1.19 team earned run average, you knew something had to give.

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Although the Blue Hens (14-13) limited the Tigers to nine total runs in the doubleheader, Princeton (16-10) managed enough timely offense to sweep the afternoon twinbill, 4-3 and 5-0.

Vesuvius

Before erupting for four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning of the second game, the Tigers looked tentative at the plate in RBI situations, stranding 15 runners on base combined in the two contests.

Despite the team's substandard performance on offense, head coach Cindy Cohen exhibited few worries.

"We could have shown just a little more patience," Cohen said. "But we didn't do a terrible job. We're not popping up as much, we're not striking out as much, so we just have to keep whacking away in there."

Early on, the Blue Hens kept the whacking to a minimum. For the first five innings of game two, Delaware's Krysta Pidstawski (6-6) limited Princeton to just one run on four hits.

Pidstawski retired the first 10 Tigers she faced until senior designated hitter Andrea Alary laid down a bunt single. Freshman third baseman Lauren Poniatowski followed by grounding into a fielder's choice before stealing second base.

Bob Vila

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That set up Keefe, who drilled Pidstawski's 3-and-2 offering into center field for an RBI single.

Senior pitcher Alyssa Smith (3-2) made sure a one-run lead was enough, limiting the Blue Hens to just four hits in her complete-game shutout victory. Smith's performance, along with another steady defensive effort, made up for the offense's relative shortcomings.

"We're playing good defense and getting good pitching," Cohen said. "That takes a little bit of pressure off the offense when you don't feel like you have to score a million runs."

Princeton's only offensive outburst came when Alary and Poniatowski led off the sixth inning with back-to-back singles. Delaware opted to walk Keefe intentionally, loading the bases for sophomore second baseman Kamilah Briscoe.

Bring 'em all home

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Briscoe capitalized on the Blue Hens' decision by lacing a bases-clearing double to the right center field gap. She later scored on freshman left fielder Lori Volker's groundout.

"I think it's more of a pride thing at that point," Briscoe said, "having the bases loaded for you. I just wanted to make good contact and drive the ball."

In the first game, Princeton spotted Delaware a two-run first-inning lead before coming back to win in 10 innings. The Tigers are now 5-1 in extra-inning games this season.

Cruise control

After escaping the early jam, junior pitcher Lynn Miller dominated, allowing just two hits and one run the rest of the way in notching her 13th complete game of the season.

Keefe capped the win with a leadoff RBI single to center in the 10th off the glove of Blue Hen second baseman Laurie Brosnahan. After striking out three times earlier in the game, Keefe redeemed herself by driving Poniatowski home from second.

Princeton will take its seven-game winning streak to Cornell and Penn this weekend to kick off its Ivy League schedule.

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