This past weekend, softball (9–13 overall, 5–1 Ivy League) traveled to Providence, R.I. for a three-game series against the Brown Bears (4–13, 2–4), winning two of three. Princeton entered the series 3–0 in Ivy League play, having swept the Yale Bulldogs (8–14, 2–4) the week prior.
The Tigers began the series on Friday with a dominant pitching performance from senior pitcher Alexis Laudenslager in a 1–0 win. Laudenslager threw a no-hitter with an impressive ten strikeouts in seven innings of work.
“Alexis is the tone setter for our team and leads us to stay in games and allow us to win tight games,” senior left fielder Serena Starks wrote to The Daily Princetonian. “She has been consistent in the circle and will continue to play with composure and confidence.”
Offensively, the Tigers struggled, as Bears pitcher Alexis Guevara also went the full seven innings, holding the Tigers’ offense to just four hits. Two of those hits came in the fourth inning, where a lead-off single from Starks was followed by a triple from first-year third baseman Julia Dumais, plating the only run of the game for either side.
“Winning the first game is always important, as it helps us gain momentum for the rest of the series,” said sophomore outfielder Allison Ha.
Ha is a sports contributor at the ‘Prince.’
Two days later, the Tigers began the first game of the Sunday doubleheader, in which both teams started the game with the same pitchers as Friday. The star of this game was Brown’s right fielder Jasmine Hsiao.
The Bears got on the board first. Following a single from Brown second baseman Cameron Zytkewicz, Hsiao drove her in with an RBI double to center field. Hsiao would go on to hit a two-run homer in the fourth, again driving in Zytkewicz. This home run would mean the end of the outing for Laudenslager, who allowed three earned runs in 3.2 innings pitched.
Junior pitcher Molly Chambers entered in relief, finishing the fourth inning. After a scoreless fifth inning, a solo shot in the sixth from Hsiao extended the Bears’ lead to four. Hsiao’s two home runs and double accounted for all four of Brown’s runs.
Offensively, the Tigers had no answer for Guevara in game two. The sophomore held Princeton to just three hits, as she tossed a full seven innings again, this time surrendering no runs and striking out three in the process. This left the series split, with the decisive game coming later that afternoon.
“After losing the second game, we knew that we would have to come out firing for game three,” Ha wrote to the ‘Prince.’ “Knowing that we were a much better team than how we played in game 2, we just had to learn from our mistakes and take the little positives to fuel game 3.”
In game three, Princeton’s offense finally woke up. The Tigers matched their run total in the previous two games immediately with a first inning solo shot from Dumais. Brown would respond in their half of the first as Hsiao continued her strong weekend, reaching base on a walk before swiping second base and later scoring on a throwing error, evening the score at one run a piece.
The second inning saw Brown take a 2–1 lead as Zytkewicz scored on a sac fly from first-year designated player Liv Kam. The score remained 2–1 in favor of the home side until the fourth, when a double from junior shortstop Grace Jackson scored first-year pinch runner Courtney Harrison from first base. From there, sophomore catcher Lauren Pappert singled to left, giving the Tigers their first lead of the match.
Heading into the seventh inning and looking for some insurance, the Tigers tacked on two more runs. Back-to-back doubles from junior first baseman Caitlin Bish and Dumais opened the scoring for the inning, before Ha reached on an error, scoring Dumais.
A strong combined effort on the mound from first-year pitcher Brielle Wright and sophomore pitcher Meghan Harrington held the Bears’ offense to two runs as the pair pitched 4.1 and 2.2 innings, respectively.
“Despite losing game two, all of us had full confidence in winning game three” said Ha. “The team is very good at picking each other up. And at the end of the day, we know we can beat anybody, and I always have faith in the team to pull out the win.”
Princeton left Rhode Island having won their first two series in Ivy League play. The Tigers will look to carry this momentum into a busy week featuring five games between March 29 and April 2, including a two-game series against the Rider Broncos (6–14) and a three-game Ivy League series against the Penn Quakers (2–22, 0–6).
“We have not reached our peak Princeton softball yet. If we continue to stay the course and trust the process, our offense will ignite and score more runs,“ said Starks. “The team just has to continue putting good swings on the ball and learn from every at bat.”
Tony Owens is a contributor to the Sports section at the ‘Prince.’
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