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Sunday sweep concludes regular season for softball

The Princeton softball team finished its season on a strong note this weekend, winning its last two regular season games against Cornell. The Tigers lost the first two games of their weekend series on Saturday by scores of 2-0 and 8-6, effectively taking themselves out of the running for the Ivy League title, but rallied on Sunday to sweep two games 5-2 and 8-2. This weekend’s series leaves Princeton tied for second with Columbia in the Ivy South Division with an Ivy League record of 9-11 (17-26 overall). Penn maintained a solid lead in the division at 13-6. With the losses, Cornell stands in last place at 8-10.

In Saturday’s first game, sophomore pitcher Shanna Christian impressively took a no-hitter into the fifth inning and managed to pitch a shutout until the Big Red’s Christina Villaton hit a two-run home run in the top of the seventh, driving in Haley Chambers. Princeton’s first hit of the game was registered by junior centerfielder Rachel Rendina in the bottom of the third, but consistent pitching prevented the Tigers from scoring any runs, leaving the game at 2-0. There were a total of 10 hits during the first game, less than half the number of hits for the second game.

The Tigers lost game two by an 8-6 margin. Both teams managed three runs in the first inning, with senior leftfielder Maddie Cousens hitting a two-run homer in the second that put Princeton ahead 5-3, before Cornell’s Sophie Giaquinto hit a three-run homer in the top of the fourth to put Big Red in the lead for good. After sustaining the shutout in the first game, Big Red pitcher Alyson Onyon pitched well again in the second game, entering in the fourth inning and giving up only one hit over the three and two thirds innings she played. Cousens played particularly well and was the only Tiger with hits in both games of the doubleheader, going one for three in the first game and two for four in the second. Freshman second baseman Haley Hineman impressively went three for four in the second game, her second-most hits in a game this season.

Sunday’s games were on Princeton’s Senior Day, honoring seniors Maddie Cousens and Tory Roberts, in addition to Khristin Kyllo, who entered Princeton with the class of 2014 but passed away just before her freshman season began in 2011. To raise epilepsy awareness, the Tigers wore purple socks and ribbons.

Princeton’s sweep of the Sunday doubleheader began slowly as Cornell mounted a two-run lead. However, home side managed to score three subsequent runs to win 3-2. Cornell scored its two in the top of the first and led until the bottom of the fourth when Rendina reached first base on an error by the Big Red shortstop, and junior shortstop Alyssa Schmidt drove her in with a home run, her first this season. In the fifth inning, freshman rightfielder Marissa Reynolds hit a triple before scoring on a groundout. After giving up two first-inning runs on two hits and two walks, Christian threw well, giving up only two hits and no walks over the last six innings.

The Tigers continued their momentum into the second game, winning 5-2. The Tigers scored their first run in the first inning when Cousens singled, stole second and crossed home on a double by Schmidt. Princeton scored three more runs in the second inning when sophomore catcher Skye Jerpback hit a home run with two outs, followed by Schmidt hitting a double with Rendina and Cousens scoring due to an error at second base. Each team scored one run in the sixth, but Cornell’s rally against freshman Erica Nori in the seventh was not enough to change the tide of the game. The Big Red’s Michiko McGivney hit a two-out single scoring Erica Weinberg, but Christian came on again to secure the sweep. Cousens went four for four in the second game, bringing her batting average up to a clean .300 and achieving her first four-hit game. Schmidt went four for seven over the entire day, driving in an impressive six runs.

Princeton finishes the season with Hineman leading the team in batting with an average of .307. Hineman and Cousens are the only Tigers with batting averages at or above .300. Nori finishes the season with an impressive 2.29 ERA over 97.2 innings, a strong end to her freshman season. Christian followed her on the Tiger staff with a 4.13 ERA over 103.1 innings.

The Ivy League Championship will come next weekend between Penn and the winner of the Ivy North Division — either Harvard or Dartmouth.

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