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Softball faces crunch time in pair of doubleheaders against Penn

The softball team will host the first-place Penn Quakers this weekend at the Class of 1895 Field, playing four games over the course of two days.  The Tigers hope to continue their recent momentum after winning three of four games against Columbia last weekend despite losing a doubleheader against Harvard this afternoon. The Tigers (14-21 overall, 6-6 Ivy League) made an impressive jump last weekend from fourth in the Ivy South Division to second place in the standings, which are led by Penn (12-16, 7-4). Last season, the Tigers struggled against Penn, winning only one of four games played against the Quakers. Two games will be played Saturday and Sunday, the first starting at 12:30 p.m. and the second at 2:30 p.m.

The Tiger pitching staff just keeps getting better and better as freshman pitcher Erica Nori settles into the pace of college softball with an incredible ERA of 2.13 over 82 innings, one of the best ERAs among pitchers in the Ivy League. She is followed by sophomore Shanna Christian with a 3.95 ERA over 78 innings, freshman Claire Klausner with a 3.95 ERA over 33.2 innings and junior Meredith Brown with an 4.79 ERA over 38 innings. Last weekend against Columbia, Klausner registered her first save of the season, giving all four pitchers one save so far this season.

Junior Rachel Rendina played well against Columbia last weekend, going four for eight during the first two games as well as against Harvard on Thursday, leading the Tigers in batting with an average of .279. Rendina is followed by senior Maddie Cousens at .274, sophomore Emily Viggers at .271 and freshman Haley Hineman at .267. In game two of last weekend’s series against Columbia, Hineman hit a fifth-inning double that knocked in Cousens for the game-winning third run. Junior Cara Worden played particularly well against Harvard, going three for six during the doubleheader and nine for 21 (.429) over the past eight days.

Penn comes into this game with strong offense and defense and could prove a difficult opponent for Princeton. The Quakers are playing well, having won five of their past seven games, all against Ivy League teams. Penn ranks third in the league in terms of pitching, with a 3.17 team ERA, while Princeton ranks fourth with a team ERA of 3.54 as of April 15. Penn’s top pitcher, Alexis Sargen, has an astonishing 1.60 ERA over 48 innings, ranking first in the Ivy League, in addition to being a talented hitter with a batting average of .284. Sargen is followed in ERA by teammate Alexis Borden, a two-time unanimous first-team All-Ivy selection, with an ERA of 2.35 over 89.1 innings, ranked sixth in the league. Leah Allen leads the Quakers in batting average at .404, the second-best batting average in the league. She is followed by four Quaker teammates batting over .300: Kanani Datan at .347; Elysse Gorney, who was first-team All-Ivy in 2012 at .316; Sydney Turchin at .313; and Kayla Dahlerbruch at .307.  Penn has a team batting average of .267, as compared with Princeton’s .234 as of April 15.

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