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Tigers win Ivy League Softball Tournament to get automatic NCAA tournament bid

Group of about 16 softball players in white t-shirts that read "Ivy Tournament Champions" standing behind large green banner with the same wording.
Tiger softball wins Ivy League tournament for NCAA bid.
Andrew Bosworth / The Daily Princetonian

On Saturday, the top-seeded Princeton softball team took first place at the 2024 Ivy League Softball Tournament, earning themselves an automatic bid to the 2024 NCAA Softball Championships. 

After winning their first two games, the hosting Tigers advanced straight to the finals. In the double elimination tournament, Harvard winning the tournament's sixth game led to a seventh game which Princeton won, securing them the Ivy title on their home field


“We love being at home,” head coach Lisa Van Ackeren told The Daily Princetonian. “It’s finals prep, Dean’s Date, and all the things from last week. So, I think there’s a huge advantage to being here and we love playing on this field.”

Few hits for the Big Green lead to game one win for the Tigers 4–0

Junior pitcher Meghan Harrington began the tournament strong for the Tigers, allowing only two base hits in the Tigers’ first game against the Big Green. The Tigers’ first hit of the tournament came as a first inning single from freshman infielder Sonia Zhang. She made it to third after a walk and throwing error, but could not capitalize on this initial momentum to bring it home.

The top half of the second inning was over for Dartmouth quickly with two groundouts and a fly-out. The same could not be said for the bottom of the inning where the Tigers found their groove. Eight players stepped into the box, leading to the Tigers on the board with two runs through back-to-back walked RBIs from junior outfielder Lauren Sablone and sophomore infielder Julia Dumais.

After two quiet innings, the Tigers heated up once again. While Dartmouth had no hits in the fifth, Princeton scored twice after a two-run home run by junior Karis Ford.


Once again, Dartmouth had three quick outs in the sixth. Three ground-outs at the top of the seventh ended the game, with the Tigers winning 4–0.

Tigers win the second game against Harvard 3–1 to advance straight to finals

In the second game, the Tigers secured a victory led by three runs in the third inning. With Princeton up to bat first, the Tigers started the game with two singles, but ultimately failed to score in the first. Freshman pitcher Cassidy Shaw walked her first batter, while another player got to first on a fielder’s choice.

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The second was another hitless inning before the active third, where Princeton ended the scoring drought by notching all of its runs for the game. After a single and advancing two bases, Sablone was brought home by Dumais’ single. Ford then pushed the lead to three with a two-run single. In the bottom of the inning, Harvard failed to score again.

Harvard got their only run of the game in the fourth, with Shaw walking one player before sophomore pitcher Brielle Wright subbed in, allowing an advancement on a wild pitch. A ground out RBI brought Harvard home.

After beating Dartmouth 6–5 on May 10, Harvard advanced to the finals.

“We were not surprised that it was Harvard,” Van Ackeren said. “This was the matchup in this tournament last year and they knocked us out in this game, the last elimination game, so it was good to have a chance to compete against them again. It’s a good rivalry.”

Poor hitting by Tigers leads to if-necessary seventh game in the double elimination tournament

With Harrington at the mound in the Tigers’ second of three encounters of the tournament with the Crimson, the orange and black failed to bring it home, with the Tigers giving up six runs and making just one trip around the bases.

Harvard scored early on with a bunt RBI in the first, while Princeton struggled with a hitless first inning and a fly out and two ground outs to close the second inning quickly. 

Harvard doubled in the third and struck out again. In the bottom of the third, Princeton got their only run of the game. After a field error followed by a sacrifice bunt, Dominguez advanced to second before being brought home by Dumais’ single.

In the top of the fourth, Harvard scored two runs to bring the score to 3–1 with three singles. Princeton could not follow suit, with two ground outs and a fly out.

In the fifth, Harvard stretched their lead to 6-1, scoring three more runs on five singles. For Princeton, senior Cate Bade singled up the middle, but the Tigers failed to get any other players on a base.

“You have to play every pitch one pitch at a time, but they had a lot of hits and a lot didn’t go our way.” Van Ackeren said. “I mean, there were a lot of squared up balls, and we just had to fight defensively and didn’t play our best game, but we're really tough.”

The double elimination format of the tournament meant another game had to be played following Harvard’s 6–1 victory, with first pitch of the if-necessary game occurring just 35 minutes after the game ended.

In low-scoring game, Princeton wins 1–0 to secure NCAA bid

With Princeton at bat first in the final game of the tournament with a bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line, the Tigers notched a single run to win against a scoreless Crimson.

The Tigers started off the second strong, with a walk and single by junior Allison Ha and senior Grace Jackson. Marsalo’s ground out to third advanced the two runners and Ha was brought home by Bade’s ground out to second. Shaw struck out one Crimson and allowed one hit.

Ha is a senior Sports writer for the ‘Prince.’

“We had to just push runs across any way that we could,” Van Ackeren said. “So, a ground ball to the infield, the scored run is not super sexy, but it got the job done.”

Throughout the game, the Tigers denied the Crimson of the chance to score, leading them to leave Strubing Field empty handed.

“We got a lot of outs early in the innings,” Van Ackeren said. “So, it kind of sets the tone so they can’t catch momentum. And I thought we executed that well.”

In the final inning of the tournament, Zhang secured a base hit, but the Tigers could not widen their lead past one. It would not matter in the end after Wright’s no-hitter in the seventh.

“It’s basically the four best pitching staffs in the league that are here,” Van Ackeren said. “So, we knew the offense was going to be hard to come by, but our pitchers really stepped up, so we felt really good with them on the mound all weekend.”

The Tigers will now head to the NCAA Regionals in Lafayette, La. The Tigers will face off first against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns on Friday, May 17, at 5:30 p.m. If they win, they will go up against the winner of Ole Miss and Baylor, hoping to continue their march through the Ivy League to the national stage.

Andrew Bosworth is a head Data editor and Sports contributor for the ‘Prince.’

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