The most critical portion of the season has begun for the Princeton softball team: Ivy League play. Defending their home field against visiting rivals, the Tigers split their weekend games against Dartmouth and fell in both of their matches against Harvard.
The Tigers (7-20 overall, 1-3 Ivy League) came into Ivy League play with every reason to feel hopeful, given that they were just coming off a three-game winning streak — two wins against Colgate at home and one against Rider on the road. Indeed, they looked poised to open up Ivy League play once again on the right foot, after starting out 2-0 against the Ancient Eight in the 2016 campaign.
Indeed, the first game of the weekend against Dartmouth (15-9, 4-0) seemed to indicate such. The second inning saw the Tigers race out to a five-run lead, picking up five unanswered runs from a litany of Dartmouth errors. The scoring was sparked by freshman outfielder Kaitlyn Waslawski, hitting a triple to bring two Princeton players home for the 2-0 lead.
The Big Green, however, came right back in the third, outscoring the Tigers 6-1 to bring the score back level. While sophomore shortstop Danielle Dockx and sophomore outfielder Kylee Pierce both picked up RBI’s in the fourth to give the Tigers a two-run edge once more, the Big Green would fight back again, outscoring the Tigers 3-1 over the course of the fifth and sixth innings to once again even the score. The Tigers had opportunities to close it out in the final innings, including two on with one-out in the ninth, but could not convert, as the game went into extra innings. The Big Green would convert here, picking up three runs to seal the game at a 12-9 loss for the Tigers.
During the following game against the Big Green, which was intended to be played Friday but was postponed to Sunday, it was Dartmouth that ran out to the early lead. The visitors picked up two unanswered runs in the first inning and would push the score to 5-1 by the end of the fourth. The Tigers, however, came within a hair of completing a stunning comeback due to a two-run homer from freshman Keeley Walsh in the sixth and a solo homer from Pierce to bring the Tigers within one. Princeton, however, would find itself unable to score again, just falling to Dartmouth 5-4.
In their Saturday games, both against the Harvard Crimson (12-13, 2-2), the Tigers found themselves embroiled in much lower-scoring contests. The first game against the Crimson remained scoreless until senior first base Kayla Bose picked up an RBI to bring Waslawski home, putting the Tigers up one in the third. A sac fly from junior infielder Haley Hineman brought freshman third base Kaylee Grant home in the fourth to double the Tigers’ lead. With neither team scoring a run thereafter, the Tigers emerged victorious for their first win of league play.
Runs were even harder to come by in the second game of this back-to-back series — sophomore pitcher Ashley LaGuardia showed her stuff on the mound in the second game, allowing Harvard just one run the entire game. However, the Crimson’s Taylor Cabe was able to do one better, shutting out the Tigers and dealing Princeton the 0-1 loss to finish the day.
Despite the loss, the Tigers would have opportunity to finish up their homestand with a win, facing Monmouth on Tuesday afternoon before they hit the road for four straight road games this coming weekend.