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Junior Jennifer Bergeron
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin

Softball Readies For Big Ivy League Weekend At Harvard, Dartmouth


NEW YORK – The Columbia softball team continues its 12-game road swing this Friday and Saturday with doubleheaders at Harvard and Dartmouth.

Columbia (7-20, 1-3 Ivy League) and Harvard (15-9, 3-1 Ivy League) will square off on Friday starting at 2 p.m. in Cambridge, Mass. The Lions will head north to Hanover, N.H., on Saturday for a twinbill at Dartmouth (7-12, 0-4 Ivy League) beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Friday’s games at Harvard will feature free live statistics through GoCrimson.com. Saturday’s doubleheader at Dartmouth will feature live video from Dartmouth Softball Park available through SideLION Pass here for a fee. A day pass is $11.95 and a one-month pass is $12.95. The video stream will begin at 12:30 p.m. Free live statistics will also be available through GoColumbiaLions.com and DartmouthSports.com.

Columbia is coming off two close losses at Marist on Wednesday. In the first game, Columbia led Marist (14-17), 4-3, heading into the sixth, but the Red Foxes came through with one run in the sixth to tie the game before Danielle Koltz’s game-winning homer in the seventh. The Lions had 3-0 lead in the second game but the Red Foxes’ four-run fourth inning for proved costly. Columbia roared back to life with two runs in the seventh and had the game-tying run on second with one out, but Marist pitcher Paige Lewis induced two groundouts to end the game.

Harvard lost to, 3-2, at Providence on Tuesday. The Crimson rallied back with a 2-0 deficit, tying the game at 2-2 in the top of the sixth when Kasey Lange hit a solo home run. A Friars RBI double to left in the bottom of the sixth sealed the win for Providence.

The Lions trail the all-time series against Harvard, 8-18. Harvard has won the last four meetings between the teams, including a pair of 4-2 games last season at Columbia Softball Field. All four games have been decided by three runs or less. Columbia last beat Harvard in the second game of a home doubleheader on March 28, 2009, by a score of 2-0.

Dartmouth has lost its last seven games, including a twinbill at Cornell on Saturday. The Big Green suffered from a three-run Cornell fifth inning, losing the first game, 4-2. The second game proved to be a slugfest with five home runs between the teams. Cornell plated seven runs in the fourth to seize control of the game. Dartmouth’s four-run seventh proved to be too little too late, losing, 10-8. Dartmouth takes on Penn for a home doubleheader Friday afternoon starting at 2 p.m.

Columbia trails its all-time series against Dartmouth, 10-18. The Big Green has won the last 11 contests. Columbia’s last win over Dartmouth was a 3-1 triumph in the first half of a home doubleheader on April 9, 2006.

MORGAN COOK CATCHING FIRE
Sophomore first baseman Morgan Cook has been a steady force in the Lions lineup, coming up with key hits. Through 10 games following the 2012 Rebel Games, she has improved her batting average from .255 to .308.

Cook has continued as Columbia’s most clutch hitter with runners in scoring position (.542 BA, 13-of-24) and ranks second on the team with a .409 batting average (9-of-22) when she isa at bat with two outs.

She also leads the team with eight multi-hit games and four multi RBI performances.

WIDEST HITTING RANGE
Morgan Cook and Jennifer Bergeron have been the Lions’ best at spreading their hits around the ballpark.

Cook has recorded hits into all parts of the outfield (left, left center, center, right center, right) and shot through all of the infield gaps (left field line, left side, middle, right side, right field line). She has very evenly hit it to left (three hits), dead center (three) and right (four).

Bergeron has also placed hits across the outfield areas with the most hits to center (four), right center (four) and right field (three).

LIGHT SABERMETRICS
Junior outfielder Alison Lam remains the Lions’ most effective run creator with a team-best 4.88 RC/7 average. Her .776 OPS (.404 on-base percentage, .373 slugging percentage) leads the team. Lam is Columbia’s best hitter with two outs, hitting .471 (8-of-17) in those situations.

With a much smaller sample size, sophomore Emily Caruthers has shown she is ready repeat her successful 2011 rookie campaign when she hit a team-best .322 before being named an All-Ivy League Honorable Mention. Caruthers went 2-of-2 with one run scored against Marist on Wednesday and her RC/7 over the four games she has played in this year is 13.23.

SCOUTING HARVARD
Harvard is 15-9 on the year, 0-1 at home and 3-1 in Ivy League games. The Crimson has won three of its last five.

The big three of senior Jane Alexander and sophomores Shelbi Olson and Kasey Lange has fueled the Harvard offense, which bats .261 as a unit. Alexander is the team’s top hitter with a .443 batting average that ranks second in the Ivy League. She has been a productive power bat with one home run, eight doubles, one triple and 14 RBI. Olson is a good singles hitter who is batting .369 to give the Crimson a consistent bat in the middle of the lineup. Lange is a dangerous power hitter with a .346 batting average, four home runs, six doubles, one triple and 21 RBI.

Harvard has relied on the 1-2 punch of senior righty Rachel Brown and sophomore righty Laura Ricciardone in the circle. Brown (9-4) is a strikeout pitcher (125 strikeouts in 92.0 innings) who can go wire to wire (11 CG in 12 starts). Her 1.67 ERA ranks second in the Ivy League and her .159 opposing batting average is the best in the conference. Her one weakness has been control at times with a league-high 15 wild pitches. Ricciardone (6-5) has been a more-than-capable No.2 pitcher with a 2.30 ERA and five complete games and three shutouts over 11 starts. She has 38 strikeouts over 61 innings and has held opposing hitters to a .255 average.

The Crimson won the 2011 Ivy League title and finished 36-16 and 18-2 in league play. Brown was the 2011 Ivy League Pitcher of the Year and Lange was the Rookie of the Year.

SCOUTING DARTMOUTH
Dartmouth is 7-12 on the season, 0-0 at home and 0-4 in conference play. The Big Green has lost its last seven, a stretch in which it was outscored, 36-13.

The Big Green has struggled largely due to its lack of offense. Dartmouth batters are hitting just .243 and there has been a drought of power hitting with just 20 extra-base hits in 19 games. Sophomore Kara Curosh and senior Kat Hicks are Dartmouth’s best hitters. Curosh is batting .349 with two doubles six RBI and six runs scored. The second-year leadoff hitter has also struck out a team-high 16 times while drawing just three walks. Hicks is a .283 hitter and she is the Big Green’s main power hitter with one homer, six doubles and nine RBI. First-year Kristen Rumley is batting .375 over just 11 games played, but she is just 3-of-15 in the Big Green’s last five games.

Dartmouth has a 3.99 team ERA thanks largely to Rumley, who is also a lefty pitcher. She has a 2.78 ERA with a 3-5 record. Rumley is a strikeout pitcher with excellent command, fanning 63 batters over 55.1 frames with just nine walks allowed. Opposing hitters are batting just .200 against her – the second-lowest mark in the Ivy League. Senior righty Hillary Barker (2-4) and junior righty Evan Gray (1-3) have put up nearly the same stats. Opponents are hitting .290 against Barker and .291 against Gray.

In 2011, the Big Green went 17-22 and took second in the Ivy League North Division with a 10-10 conference record.

UP NEXT
Columbia will play four games at Cornell on the weekend of April 14-15 with doubleheaders on each day starting at 12:30 p.m.

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