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Softball defeats Columbia, controls own destiny in Ivy League South

As the season draws to a close, the Princeton softball team has put itself in excellent position as it look for its first bid to the NCAA tournament since the spring of 2008. They have put themselves atop the South Division within the Ivy League, going 3-1 on the road against Columbia on the weekend.

The Tigers (17-25 overall, 10-6 Ivy League), after starting out league play in the middle of the standings, have surged ahead of the field, with just one weekend remaining in the regular season. With a three-game lead over their nearest division rivals, the Penn Quakers, they are in control of their destiny as they look for a chance to compete for the Ivy League crown.

This past weekend, the Tigers asserted their dominance over the Lions (13-30, 5-11) once more, a team whom they swept last season. The Lions managed to start the weekend out on the right note, defending their home turf and defeating the Tigers 4-1. The Tigers’ sole score of the day would come off of a home run from freshman third base Kaylee Grant. Grant has been one of the most consistent performers offensively for the Tigers all season, having started in all but two of the Tigers’ games on the season and posting a .330 batting average to date.

Despite the early loss, the Tigers would not be daunted heading into the second game of Saturday’s double header. Grant shone once more, picking up a two-run homer in the top of the second to open things up. Two more scores in the fifth, coming off RBI’s from senior first base Kayla Bose and freshman outfielder Kaitlyn Waslawski, doubled the lead. In addition to a strong offensive output, the Tigers benefitted greatly from the solid pitching of sophomore pitcher Ashley LaGuardia, who shut out the Lions up through the first six innings of the game. A final push by Columbia in the seventh would ultimately fall short as the Tigers emerged from the second game of the day victorious 6-3.

Sunday’s contests turned out to be far more one-sided. The Tigers began the day by clobbering the home team 8-1, fueled by an explosive third inning as the Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead off of a double from sophomore shortstop Danielle Dockx and a three-run homer from senior catcher Skye Jerpbak. Grant and junior outfielder Marissa Reynolds would hop in on the action as well, with home runs of their own in the fifth and sixth innings respectively to widen the lead. While the Lions would finally manage to put themselves on the scoreboard in the sixth, another RBI from Dockx would push the lead out once more, causing the Tigers to walk away with an 8-1 victory.

Unlike the first game, the Lions would remain within striking distance for the majority second contest. However, with the score tied at 2-2 after the fifth inning, the Tigers would take complete control as scores from Reynolds, Waslawski and junior Haley Hineman gave the Tigers a three-run lead. This quickly turned into a six-run lead as Jerpbak crushed another ball for a three-run homer, en route to an 8-2 victory for the Orange and Black.

With a dominant weekend in the books, the Tigers will take on the Cornell Big Red for four games — the first two in Ithaca, N.Y., the second two at the Class of 1895 Field — to finish their season. Should they finish strong, they will face the winner of the North Division of the Ivy League North Division for a spot in the Big Dance. The Harvard Crimson and The Dartmouth Big Green are currently jockeying for first. Dartmouth, the reigning Ivy League champion, would prove to be a fearsome matchup for whoever comes its way.

The Tigers’ final two games of the season are scheduled to take place at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. The games will be viewable on the Ivy League Digital Network.

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