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Softball earns road split against Villanova

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Despite scoring four runs in the fifth inning of game two, the Tigers leave Pennsylvania having split the series against Villanova.
Courtesy of GoPrincetonTigers.com.

On Tuesday, the softball team (22–17 overall, 14–4 Ivy League) made their way to Villanova for a doubleheader against the Wildcats (29–18 overall, 13–5 Big East). The Tigers left the series with a split, winning the first game but dropping game two. 

The Tigers opened game one with junior pitcher Molly Chambers, while the Wildcats placed Alyssa Seidler on the mound. After two quick walks drawn by senior outfielder Serena Starks and junior shortstop Grace Jackson, junior designated player Adrienne Chang stepped up with a chance to put the Tigers in front early, coming through with a two-run single that gave the Tigers a 2–0 lead in the opening inning. 

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“With runners on I try to focus on staying relaxed and not doing to much,” Chang told The Daily Princetonian. “I was looking for a pitch that I could work with and just wanted to be able to score runs in whatever means possible.”

The Wildcats, however, responded quickly, as after a walk and a single, an RBI groundout saw the lead cut in half. From there, the Wildcats continued to threaten, with two additional one-out walks to load the bases. Chambers managed a strikeout of the next batter, but then proceeded to walk in a run, evening the score at two apiece. 

An RBI single and a walk then put the Wildcats out in front 4–2, before Chambers ended the inning with a ground out.

In the second inning, Chang came to bat with two runners on base for the second time, and, once again, came through with an RBI single. After first-year third baseman Julia Dumais was hit by a pitch, sophomore infielder Sophia Marsalo came to the plate with the bases loaded. Marsalo delivered for Princeton, with a two-run single that put the Tigers back in the lead at 5–4. 

Villanova did not give up though, responding once again, with a walk, a fielder’s choice, and a stolen base to put a runner on third. A wild pitch from Chambers then drove in the Wildcat’s lone baserunner, leaving the game knotted at five-all heading into the third inning. 

Following a scoreless third, Marsalo stepped up in another big spot, with runners at the corners and two outs. The first baseman’s single saw the lead change once more, this time sitting at 7–5 in favor of the Tigers. 

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In the fourth, first-year pitcher Brielle Wright replaced Chambers in the circle. Wright worked a scoreless fourth and got out of trouble in the fifth, stranding two runners on base and maintaining the Tiger lead heading into the sixth. 

Wright went on to close out the game for the Tigers, finishing with a solid outing of four scoreless innings, and three strikeouts in a 7–5 win for Princeton. 

Eyeing a sweep of the doubleheader, the Tigers started game two with sophomore pitcher Meghan Harrington in the circle against Peyton Schnackenberg of Villanova. Both pitchers got through the first inning unscathed, but in the bottom of the second, the Wildcats got ahead thanks to a solo home run. 

In the third inning, the Tigers got into trouble, as three walks loaded the bases before an RBI single saw the Wildcats go ahead by two. The Wildcats then scored another run from a walk, and they entered the fourth leading 3–0. 

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In the fourth inning, Villanova extended their lead with a RBI double to drive in a lead-off walk. This inning saw Wright return to the circle, replacing Harrington. 

Trailing 4–0 in the fifth, the Tigers needed an offensive spark. It was one of the stars of game one, Chang, who provided that spark, with a two-run home run to left field to cut the Wildcats’ lead in half. After a single, the Tigers brought in first-year infielder Abby Hornberger to pinch hit. She provided immediate impact with a two-run home run of her own to tie the game at 4–4.

Despite the Princeton rally, the Wildcat bats refused to stay silent. A walk, hit by pitch, and single in the bottom of the fifth inning loaded the bases, before an RBI single saw the Wildcats regain the lead, and the Tigers trail 5–4 entering the sixth. 

After the Tigers failed to respond in the sixth, Villanova continued their offensive onslaught, driving in two runs from a double, followed by a two-run home run to put the Wildcats in front, 9–4. 

Villanova’s sixth inning display proved to be too much for Princeton, as only one Tiger managed to reach base in the seventh before Villanova closed out the 9–4 win.

Princeton will now travel to Hanover, N.H. to play Dartmouth (12–21 overall, 6–9 Ivy League) this weekend in their final Ivy League matchup of the regular season. Sitting atop the Ivy League, the Tigers can secure sole possession of the regular season title with a sweep of the Big Green. 

“We achieved our first goal of making the [Ivy League] tournament, so now we are focused on trying to host,” Chang said. “We are in control of our destiny so we are excited about the opportunity to finish the regular season on our terms.”

Tony Owens is a contributor to the Sports section at thePrince.

Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.