NEW YORK — The Ivy League South Division hangs in the balance for the Columbia softball team. The Lions, who sit three games behind division-leader Princeton, will play a four-game series against the Tigers on Friday and Saturday in New Jersey.
The action gets under way Friday with a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. The final two games are Saturday with first pitch at 12:30 p.m. The series was originally scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, but moved up one day due to impending weather.
Columbia (18-20, 7-5 Ivy) is alone in second place in the South Division standings. The Lions went 5-3 against the North Division, which included its first 5-0 Ivy League start in program history. Last weekend, the Lions opened South Division play at home with a four-game split against Cornell, falling in two close games on Saturday before bouncing back for a sweep on Sunday.
“We’ve talked all year about an Ivy League championship and this weekend is going to provide them an opportunity to go out and fight for it,” said third-year head coach Jennifer Teague. “This is a big weekend for us and I’m ready to get going.”
Princeton (18-15, 10-2 Ivy), the defending Ivy League champions, took all four last weekend at Penn to build a three-game lead in the division. The first three games were all decided by two runs or less, before the Tigers took game four, 12-8, with the help of six-run third. Princeton is hitting a league-best .294, led by Marissa Reynold’s .456 average, tops in the Ivy League. The pitching staff ranks fifth in team ERA at 4.50.
All four games will be available on the Ivy League Digital Network. Live stats can be accessed by visiting GoPrincetonTigers.com. Fans can also keep up with the action by following the Columbia softball team on Twitter, @CULionsSoftball.NEWS/NOTES
IVY LEAGUE STANDINGS (South)
LAST TIME OUT
Columbia’s offense exploded for 18 runs and 25 hits to sweep Rider in a non-conference doubleheader, 6-1 and 12-2 (6), on Wednesday. Junior Madison Gott and first-year Sommer Grzybek were the catalysts, as each homered and drove in four runs on the afternoon. Senior Kerry Cook, sophomore Bonnie Schipper, first-year Amber Swinarski and first-year Genny Soltesz all recorded three-hit days, helping the Lions to a season-high 16 hits in game two. The pitching staff was also impressive, combining to allow just two earned runs on 10 hits while striking out 10 and walking one. Rookie starters Madison Canby (11-8) and Erin Gallo (4-5) took the victories, each pitching the first four innings in their respective starts.
1-2 POWER COMBO
Junior Madison Gott and first-year Sommer Grzybek rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the Ivy League in home runs, RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases. Gott sits atop the league in all of the aforementioned categories, totaling nine homers, 32 RBIs, 21 extra-base hits and 89 total bases. Her 89 total bases rank among the top 50 nationally, while she also bests the Ivy League in hits (50) and doubles (12), ranks second in slugging (.730), third in batting average (.410), fifth in on-base percentage (.451) and fifth in runs scored (23). Grzybek is one behind Gott for the Ivy League lead in home runs (8), RBIs (31) and extra-base hits (20). The rookie is second with 81 total bases and holds top-five marks in the league in hits (43), doubles (10) and slugging percentage (.692).
First-year Amber Swinarski has taken over the Ivy League lead in runs scored (30), scoring five times in Wednesday’s doubleheader sweep at Rider. Swinarski is No. 43 nationally in runs per game (0.97). Senior Kerry Cook has climbed into a tie for third in the league in doubles (10) alongside Sommer Grzybek, and leads the Ancient Eight in at-bats (126) and plate appearance (136).
- Junior Madison Gott is hitting .488 (20 for 41) over her last 12 games with six doubles, four home runs, 13 runs and 17 RBIs. She has reached base in 12 straight games.
- First-year Sommer Grzybek is hitting .552 (16 for 29) over her last nine games with six doubles, two homers, eight runs and 14 RBIs. She has reached safely in 10 straight games.
- Senior Kerry Cook rides an eight-game hitting streak in which she is hitting .345 (10 for 29) with four doubles, a triple, eight runs and six RBIs.
- Sophomore Bonnie Schipper is hitting .467 (7 for 15) over her last six games with two doubles, six runs and three RBIs.
- First-year Amber Swinarski is hitting .440 (11 for 25) over her last eight games with 14 runs scored and four RBIs. She has reached safely in 10 straight games.
- Sophomore Jordan Townsend is hitting .471 (8 for 17) over her last seven games with four doubles, five runs and four RBIs.
GRZYBEK’S BIG WEEK
First-year Sommer Grzybek was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week and garnered national recognition by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), landing on its Top Performances of the Week. Grzybek hit an impressive .579 (11 for 19) with a .667 on-base percentage and .947 slugging percentage to lead the Lions to a 4-2 record. The rookie centerfielder hit her seventh home run of the campaign, adding four doubles, four runs scored and nine RBIs. She also showed off her defensive skills, coming up with a diving catch and helping turn a pair of double plays from the outfield in Sunday’s wins over Cornell. It was her third Ivy League Rookie of the Week selection, also being named Player of the Week on March 20.
GOTT BREAKS CAREER HOME RUN RECORD
Junior Madison Gott hit her 19th career home run last Thursday against Saint Peter’s to become the Columbia softball program’s new career record holder. The former record belonged to Maggie Johnson ‘11CC, who hit 18 from 2007-11. Gott’s record-breaking homer came in the second inning of game two, crushing a 1-2 pitch out to center to give the Lions a 4-1 lead. She added to her total with her 20th career blast on Saturday against Cornell and 21st on Wednesday at Rider. She is one home run away from cracking the top 20 in Ivy League history, and also one away from tying teammate Taylor Troutt for Columbia’s single-season record (10).
ROOKIES IN THE CIRCLE
Rookies Madison Canby and Erin Gallo have combined to start each of the last 24 games in the circle, and have started 30 of the 38 games this season. Canby (11-8) has done the bulk of the work, making 20- starts and combining for 122 innings pitched in 29 appearances. She leads the Ivy League in wins, starts and appearances, while ranking second in innings pitched and fifth in strikeouts (54). Canby is 3-1 with a 2.56 ERA over her last five appearances, which includes four starts and a save in Sunday’s second game against Cornell.
Fifteen of Columbia’s 38 games have either been decided by one run or gone to extra innings. The Lions hold a 7-8 record in such games, playing two of them last weekend against Cornell. The Big Red took a nine-inning decision on Saturday, 7-3, but Columbia held on for a one-run win on Sunday, 4-3.
FEELIN’ RIGHT AT HOME
The Lions are 10-2 (.833) this season at home and are on pace to post their best home winning percentage in program history. The 2014 team started 12-0 at home before finishing the season a program-best 15-6 (.714). Columbia opened the home schedule on March 24 with a two-game sweep over Monmouth and proceeded to win each of their first eight at Columbia Softball Stadium. It marked the team’s longest home winning streak since 2014, when the Lions rolled off their first 12 home games.
Princeton leads the all-time series, 38-14, and has won the season series each of the last four years. Columbia earned a split in 2012 and last won the series in 2011, winning three of four at Princeton.
IVY LEAGUE WEEKLY AWARD WINNERS
Player of the Week – March 20 – Sommer Grzybek
Rookie of the Week – March 20 – Sommer Grzybek
Rookie of the Week – March 27 – Madison Canby
Rookie of the Week – April 3 – Sommer Grzybek, Madison Canby
Pitcher of the Week – April 3 – Madison Canby
IVY LEAGUE WEEKLY HONOR ROLL
February 27 – Bonnie Schipper, Tonia Wu
March 6 – Tonia Wu, Madison Gott, Madison Canby
March 13 – Madison Gott, Olivia Parker
March 20 – Madison Gott, Bonnie Schipper, Erin Gallo
March 27 – Kerry Cook, Olivia Parker
April 3 – Taylor Troutt
April 10 – Madison Gott, Sommer Grzybek