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Softball secures first win in NCAA regionals since 2005 before falling to Louisiana

Group of women in black shirts with orange lettering in a circle in front of red bleachers.
Tiger softball after 8–0 loss to Louisiana on May 18.
Photo courtesy of @PUSoftball/X.

After winning the Ivy League tournament on May 11, Princeton softball (30–18 overall, 14–7 Ivy League) received an automatic bid to the NCAA regional tournament in Lafayette, La. In the double elimination tournament, the Tigers lost to No. 13 seeded Louisiana (45–19, 22–2 Sun Belt Conference) in five innings but beat Ole Miss (31–27, 7–17 SEC) in the loser game.


With just two hits, Tigers are defeated 8–0 by the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in five innings

On Friday, May 17, first-year infielder Sonia Zhang flied out to kick off the Tigers’ appearance in the NCAA tournament. Louisiana’s hitting started differently — scoring four runs immediately with a single, double, and triple as junior pitcher Meghan Harrington struggled to find her footing on the mound.

In the second, both teams got a hit. First-year utility player Karis Ford singled to left and Louisiana singled to right, but no team could score. Princeton’s third ended quickly with three ground outs. Princeton got a double-play before Ole Miss scored four runs in the third with a three-run home run to bring the score to 7–0.

No hits or bases in the fourth for either team and only one single by junior infielder Sophia Marsalo in the fifth gave Louisiana the opportunity to score one more run to invoke the five-inning rule. A fielding error allowed Louisiana to reach first and a double to left center led to an unearned run to end the game 8–0. The Tigers, with a loss in the opening game, now had to win against Ole Miss to keep their season alive.

Tigers beat Ole Miss Rebels to fight another day

The Tigers then cruised past the Ole Miss Rebels the next day to keep their tournament chances alive. After a scoreless Princeton first half, Ole Miss singled to right, but could not score even after stealing second, with first-year pitcher Cassidy Shaw tossing three strikeouts. No teams recorded a hit in the next two innings and Shaw notched three more strikeouts to keep the game scoreless into the fourth.


Leading off the fourth, sophomore catcher Julia Dumais singled, but was stranded to end the inning, following a strikeout and fly out. Ole Miss singled and doubled, but a strikeout by Shaw and a pop-out led to a dry, scoreless game after four innings.

“They want this moment,” Princeton Head Coach Lisa Van Ackeren told ESPN before the bottom of the fourth. “They were not happy when we left the field yesterday, and the goal is to channel that into something good the next opportunity that you get.”

The Tigers found their energy in the fifth, as Marsalo doubled to left center to start the inning and a Zhang single to right brought home the pinch-running junior catcher Lauren Pappert. Junior outfielder Lauren Sablone followed with a walk and Dumais roped an RBI single to bring home Zhang and senior infielder/outfielder Cate Bade for a 3–0 lead. 

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Although first-year infielder Allie Goodwin and Marsalo struck out in the sixth, the Rebels were unable to catch up to the Tigers. With two singles, a double, and a sacrifice RBI, the Rebels notched just two runs against sophomore pitcher Brielle Wright. 

In the seventh, the Tigers secured their lead with an unearned run by senior infielder Grace Jackson, after only one Princeton hit and two Ole Miss errors in the frame. The final score culminated in a 4–2 Tigers win.

This win was the first Tiger win in an NCAA softball regional tournament since 2005 against Lehigh, marking a massive feat for the Ivy League and the Princeton program.

Louisiana defeats Princeton 2–1 in extra innings, ending the Tigers’ season

Princeton faced off against Louisiana, the designated home team, for the first time this tournament later that day. Wright struck out a Ragin’ Cajun to begin the game, stranding a runner to set down Louisiana in their half of the first. Meanwhile, Princeton’s offense saw two ground outs and a pop out in the first.

In the second, Louisiana hit into a double play, and Wright tossed another strikeout. In the third, Louisiana hit two singles and plated an unearned run on a sacrifice fly to left with the bases loaded. Later, a Bade ground out advanced senior infielder Grace Jackson to third, who scored after Zhang singled to center field to tie the score 1–1 after three innings.

“They’re just on their A-game today,” Louisiana head coach Gerry Glasco told ESPN before the fourth inning, commenting on Princeton’s strength following the 8–0 loss the day before.

Louisiana hit a single in the fourth, but two ground outs and a pop out ended it quickly for them.

“It’s all about resilience,” Van Ackeren said to ESPN before the bottom of the fourth. “[The Tigers] know they can become a different team and a better team even after adversity, so we’re in a good spot. After game one, Cass [Shaw] had a phenomenal game … and Brielle [Wright] did a great job of coming in to close, and she’s a really good matchup for this team that she didn’t get to see yesterday.”

With only a fielding error reach for Princeton in the fourth, the Tigers could not gain a lead. After a Louisiana fly out and single in the fifth, Shaw pitched for the next seven batters, entering the sixth inning having allowed only one hit. Sablone singled in the sixth, but Dumais hit into the double play to waste Princeton’s opportunity. Louisiana leads the NCAA in double plays this season, with over 45 across their 63 games.

In the seventh, two Louisiana batters were hit by Wright’s pitches, but were unable to score, as she pitched out of trouble with two strikeouts and a ground out. The Tigers needed one run to eliminate Louisiana from the regional game in the bottom of the inning, but failed to do so, forcing the game into extra innings. 

For the first at-bat of the eighth, a triple down the right field line and a sacrifice fly to left field quickly brought the score to 2–1 Louisiana. Again needing a run to save their season, three consecutive ground outs for Princeton from the last three batters in the order led to the Tigers’ season’s end.

Baylor won the Lafayette Regional on Sunday, May 19 after an if-necessary game against Louisiana. Princeton finished the season 30–18, began to build a strong lineup of first year and sophomore talent, and made it further in the NCAA Tournament than they have in the past 19 years — all promising signs for the future of the Princeton softball program.

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

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