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May 11, 2012

Harvard Sweeps Penn in 2012 Ivy League Softball Championship Series

Championship Central | Photo Gallery | Game One Boxscore | Game Two Boxscore

Portions Courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Harvard took the opening two games of the 2012 Ivy League Softball Championship Series against Penn at Soldiers Field on Friday afternoon to claim the 2012 Ivy League title. It marked the Crimson's sixth all-time title and third since the League switched to a championship series format in 2007.

Harvard won the first game, 1-0 and followed with a 5-2 victory in game two. As winners of the Ivy League Championship Series for the second year in a row, Harvard has earned the League's automatic berth in the 2012 NCAA Championship.

In a rematch of the first-ever Ivy League Softball Championship Series, game one pitted the league’s top two pitchers, Penn’s Alexis Borden and Harvard’s Rachel Brown, against each other and it proved to be as much of a pitcher’s duel as expected. Brown and Borden silenced the opposing bats through three full innings as neither team was able to record a hit. Elysse Gorney broke the hitless streak with a one-out double in the top of the fourth but a fly out and pop out cut the rally short. Harvard took a small-ball approach in the bottom of the inning, moving Jane Alexander to third after a leadoff single, but a Borden strikeout kept the game scoreless.

Harvard was finally able to break through in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a pair of hits and a Penn miscue. Ashley Heritage and Alexander logged consecutive walks to start the inning and Kasey Lange came to the plate with two on and one out. Lange punched an infield single and the Penn second baseman made an errant throw to try to cut down Alexander at second, allowing Heritage to score the game’s only run. Stephanie Regan followed with a single that caromed off third base to load the bases, but a fly out and ground out kept the score at 1-0. Kayla Dahlerbruch reached on a one-out single in the seventh, but Kasey Lange snared a Brooke Coloma line drive and threw to first to complete the game-ending double play.

Brown picked up her 19th win of the season, twirling a three-hit shutout with four strikeouts and no walks.

The bats came alive for the Crimson in game two as Harvard collected a pair of hits in the top of the first and another in the second, threatening but not scoring in the innings. Laura Ricciardone was in command in the circle, not allowing a hit in the first two frames. The Crimson jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third as Shelbi Olson and Emily Gusse collected singles, Katherine Lantz walked and Adrienne Hume earned the first RBI of the series with a bases-loaded walk. Whitney Shaw followed with a fly ball to left that was deep enough to score pinch-runner Camilla Gibson from third.

The small-ball approach paid off again for Harvard in the top of the fifth when Gibson led off with a single and Lantz moved her into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Hume picked up her second RBI of the game, connecting on a single through the middle that brought in Gibson from second. Georgia Guttadauro led off the bottom of the fifth with a double and came in to score Penn’s first run.

The Crimson padded its lead in the sixth as a double by Olson and singles from Lange, Regan and Lantz saw Harvard bring in two more runs to take a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the inning. An RBI groundout from Dahlerbruch brought the Quakers to within three at 5-2, but that is as close as they would get. Rachel Brown played the closer role for the Crimson and struck out the final Penn batter to clinch the series for Harvard.

The NCAA selection show will air on ESPNU at 10 p.m. on Sunday, May 13. NCAA regionals will begin Thursday, May 17 at campus sites.

IVY TITLE TALK
Dating back to 1980, the first season of Ivy League softball play, six Ivy teams have combined for 36 titles in the 33 seasons of play. Yale won the inaugural title in 1980, while Princeton leads the League with 17 titles. Harvard now has six titles, while Cornell and Brown each have five, followed by Yale (2) and Penn (1).

The Ivy League softball championship series, which pits the regular season champions of the North and South Divisions against each other, began in 2007. That season, Harvard defeated Penn in consecutive games to win the first Ivy League Championship Series. The Crimson has now represented the North in five of the six League Championships series (all but 2009 when Dartmouth won the North Division) and won the last two titles.

CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES HISTORY
2007 -- Harvard (North) vs. Penn (South)
Game One: Harvard def. Penn, 4-0
Game Two: Harvard def. Penn, 4-2
Harvard wins series, 2-0 (Soldiers Softball Field // Cambridge, Mass.)

2008 -- Harvard (North) vs. Princeton (South)
Game One: Princeton def. Harvard, 4-2
Game Two: Princeton def. Harvard, 5-1
Princeton wins series, 2-0 (Class of 1895 Field // Princeton, N.J.)

2009 -- Dartmouth (North) vs. Cornell (South)
Game One: Cornell def. Dartmouth, 4-0
Game Two: Dartmouth def. Cornell, 5-1
Game Three: Cornell def. Dartmouth, 6-1
Cornell wins series, 2-1 (at Niemand*Robison Field // Ithaca, N.Y.)

2010 -- Harvard (North) vs. Cornell (South)
Game One: Cornell def. Harvard, 3-1
Game Two: Harvard def. Cornell, 4-2
Game Three: Cornell def. Harvard, 3-2
Cornell wins series, 2-1 (at Niemand*Robison Field // Ithaca, N.Y.)

2011 -- Harvard (North) vs. Cornell (South)
Game One: Harvard def. Cornell, 5-0
Game Two: Harvard def. Cornell, 4-0
Harvard wins series, 2-0 (at Soldiers Field // Cambridge, Mass.)

2012 -- Harvard (North) vs. Penn (South)
Game One: Harvard def. Penn, 1-0
Game Two: Harvard def. Penn, 4-0
Harvard wins series, 2-0 (at Soldiers Field // Cambridge, Mass.)