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Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin

Softball Starts Ivy League South Play With Four Games At Cornell

Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics
          Release: 04/11/2012
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NEW YORK – Fresh off a pair of dominating wins over Dartmouth this past weekend, the Columbia softball team makes a trip up to Ithaca, N.Y., this Saturday and Sunday four a four-game set against Ivy League foe Cornell.

The Lions (9-22, 3-5 Ivy League) and the Big Red (16-15, 7-1 Ivy League) will play doubleheaders at Niemand-Robison Softball Field starting at 12:30 p.m. on both days. All four games will feature free live statistics available through CornellBigRed.com.

This weekend’s series marks the start of both teams’ Ivy League South schedules. So far this season, the Ivy League South has pummeled the Ivy League North with a 20-12 advantage in the 32 inter-division games played.

Columbia enjoyed two big wins over Dartmouth last weekend to close out its play against the Ivy League North. Powered by two home runs from Tristin Moone and a complete-game shutout from Brooke Darling, the Lions crushed Dartmouth, 9-0, in six frames in the first game. Darling threw another complete game and Alix Cook drove in two runs to lead Columbia to a 7-1 victory in the second contest.

Cornell’s four-game winning streak came to a halt on Wednesday when Syracuse swept the Big Red in a doubleheader at Niemand-Robison Softball Field. Syracuse took a 10-1, six-inning victory in the first game thanks to a four-run fifth and a four-run sixth. Cornell had just one hit in the loss. The Orange won 8-1 in the second game, leading from start to finish and sealing the victory with five runs in the top of the seventh.

The Big Red leads the all-time series between the two teams, 25-9. Columbia and and Cornell split last season’s four-game series at Columbia Softball Field. After the Big Red slipped away with a pair of 2-1 victories, the Lions roared back with 6-0 and 6-4 wins.

WEEKLY HONORS
The trio of sophomore Tristin Moone and first-years Alix Cook were named to the Ivy League Weekly Honor Roll on Tuesday for their standout play last week.

Over six games against Marist, Harvard and Dartmouth, Moone hit .350 (7-of-20) and led the team with two homers and seven RBI. Her .650 slugging percentage was also a team high. Her biggest contribution came in the Lions’ 9-0, six-inning win over Dartmouth in the series opener on April 7. She went 2-of-4 in the game with two homers, four RBI and two runs scored. Her solo home run in the third inning pushed Columbia’s lead to 3-0. Her three-run bomb in the sixth inning put the game out of the Big Green’s reach at 9-0.

Cook enjoyed three multi-hit games on the week to bat a team-best .421 (8-of-19). She was also strong defensively at second base, totaling 11 assists with no errors. In Columbia’s 6-5 loss to Marist on April 4, she was a perfect 3-of-3 at the plate with one RBI, two runs scored and one stolen base. Cook’s hot bat played a major role in the Lions’ sweep of Dartmouth on April 7 as she went 4-of-6 with three RBI and four runs in the doubleheader.

Darling went 2-2 on the week with a 2.76 ERA and 17 strikeouts over 25.1 innings of work. She tossed her second career shutout in the Lions’ 9-0, six-frame win over Dartmouth on April 7, striking out four and allowing just four hits in the win. Darling threw another complete game to beat Dartmouth again on April 7. She struck out five and allowed one earned run over seven strong innings in the Lions’ 7-1 win over the Big Green.

BIG TIME vs. BIG RED
Junior Jennifer Bergeron and sophomore Emily Snodgrass have been at their best against Cornell.

In eight career games against the Big Red, Bergeron is 10-of-24 (.417 BA) with three RBI and two runs. Snodgrass hit .400 (6-of-15) with one homer, two doubles, three RBI and two runs scored in last season’s four-game series against Cornell.

LIGHT SABERMETRICS
Tristin Moone reclaimed the title of Columbia’s top run creator after a major week at the plate where she tallied seven RBI. Moone is averaging a team-best 4.96 runs created per seven innings. Her .807 OPS (.340 on-base percentage, .467 slugging percentage) also leads the team. Jennifer Bergeron (4.31 RC/7) and Liz Caggiano (4.15 RC/7) round out the Lions’ top three run creators.

Morgan Cook remains Columbia’s top hitter with runners in scoring position, hitting .483 (14-of-29) in those situations. Alix Cook is batting a team-best .368 (14-of-38) with runners on base.

INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS
Emily Snodgrass is first in the Ivy League with 10 doubles on the year and her 0.34 doubles-per-game average is tied for 13th in the nation.

Alix Cook has proved to be one of the toughest batters to strike out in the country. The rookie’s 29.0 at-bats per strikeout ranks 20th-best among all NCAA Division I players.

Morgan Cook has an Ivy League-high 225 putouts at first base and shortstop Jennifer Bergeron leads the conference with 69 assists.

SCOUTING CORNELL
Cornell is 16-15 on the year and 3-5 at home. The Big Red has won three of its last five and six of its last 10.

At first glance, Cornell and Columbia seem to have identical offensive and defensive numbers. Both teams are hitting .259, Cornell’s team ERA (4.10) is just a shade better than Columbia’s (4.21) and the Lions (40 errors, .955 fielding pct) have been slightly better fielding the ball than the Big Red (44 errors, .953 fielding pct). However there are three big differences that set the two teams apart.

First, Cornell is the best power-hitting team in the Ivy League, with conference highs of 33 home runs, 46 doubles and a .432 team slugging percentage. No one else in the league is close to hitting as many extra-base hits. Second, the Big Red is very conservative on the basepaths, stealing just nine bases in 13 attempts over 31 games. By contrast, Columbia has 20 stolen bases in 25 attempts. Finally, Cornell changes pitchers more than any other team in the league. The Big Red has four pitchers it uses regularly who have combined for just six complete game performances in 31 games, the lowest percentage of CGs in the league. Columbia’s hurlers have combined for 16 complete games in 31 contests.

Offensively, Cornell is fueled by its power hitters. Six Big Red batters have at least nine extra-base hits, four have at least four home runs and four have at least 14 RBI. Linda Laeufer has been a reliable leadoff hitter with a team-high .309 batting average, three homers, nine doubles and 14 RBI. Erin Keene has been a steady clean-up hitter, batting .299 with six homers, three doubles and 17 RBI. Lauren Bucolo (.280 BA, six HRs, four doubles, 17 RBI), Jenny Edwards (.250 BA, five homers, four doubles, 18 RBI) and Erin Belles (.246 BA, four homers, one double, 11 RBI) also pack a serious pop in the Cornell lineup.

In the circle, the Big Red has mixed things up with four pitchers. Jenna Stoller (2-7) and Alyson Onyon (7-3) have been Cornell’s pace setters as they have started 11 games apiece. Onyon has thrown a team-high 81.2 frames with 74 strikeouts. Lauren Marx is the team’s best reliever with a 5-2 record a 2.62 ERA and three saves over 17 appearances.

Cornell has won the Ivy League South in each of the last three seasons. The Big Red lost the 2011 conference title series at Harvard, 2-0. Cornell was 27-22-1 last season and 12-7 in conference play.

UP NEXT
The Lions will play a midweek twinbill at Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday, April 18, before returning to Columbia Softball Field for a four-game series against Princeton, April 21-22.

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