UPDATED: Due to field conditions, the first game of Saturday's doubleheader vs. Dartmouth has been pushed back to 1:30 p.m.
NEW YORK — The Columbia softball team opens the 2017 Ivy League season this weekend in New York, welcoming Dartmouth and Harvard to the Columbia University Softball Stadium. The Lions (7-13) begin the conference slate with a doubleheader against Dartmouth (1-18-1) on Saturday. Harvard (8-9) visits the Big Apple on Sunday. First pitch for both days is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
The Lions were originally scheduled to play Harvard on Friday and Dartmouth on Saturday, but the weekend slate was adjusted due to a forecast for inclement weather in the New York area.
IVY LEAGUE OPENERS
Columbia is 3-2 in Ivy League openers over the last five years. Last season, Krystin Wong hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth as Columbia downed Yale, 3-2, in game one of the league-opening doubleheader in New York.
CANBY NABS ROOKIE OF THE WEEK HONORS
After leading the Lions in an impressive two-game sweep of Monmouth in last Friday’s home opener, first-year pitcher Madison Canby was named the Ivy League Softball Rookie of the Week on Monday. Canby started the first game in the circle against the Hawks, going six innings and surrendering just one run on four hits while striking out a season-high five during the, 9-1, win for the Lions. With Columbia leading, 3-1, in the second game, the Pembroke Pines, Florida, native recorded a save, blanking Monmouth over the final 2 2-3 innings while striking out a pair, as the Lions held on for a 5-1 win. Canby improved to 3-4 on the season while recording her second save. She is the second Lion to earn Rookie of the Week honors in the Ancient Eight, as Sommer Grzybek was named Co-Player and Rookie of the week on March 20.
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
FEELIN’ RIGHT AT HOME
Columbia started the home slate with a two-game sweep of Monmouth last Friday, defeating the Hawks, 9-1, in six innings and, 5-1, in seven. It marked the first time the Lions won their first two home games since 2014, when they rolled off an impressive 12 consecutive victories to begin the home season. That season, the Lions finished 15-6 on their home turf.
GRZYBEK NAMED PLAYER AND ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
Sommer Grzybek was named Ivy League Co-Player and Rookie of the Week for the first time on March 20. The first-year out of Cooper City, Florida, hit .450 (9 for 20) and slugged .800 through seven games, including two triples, a home run, six runs scored and five RBIs. Her two-run triple against George Mason plated the go-ahead runs in the bottom of the sixth, helping the Lions to a, 9-8, victory. She added a two-run home run as part of a three-RBI game against Jacksonville. Grzybek is hitting .311, slugging .557 and is second on the team with 12 RBIs. She is the first Lion to be selected both Player and Rookie of the Week since Alyssa Rodia on April 22, 2014.
Columbia has hit 15 home runs in 20 games, ranking among the top 70 in the NCAA in home runs per game (0.75). Junior Madison Gott leads the power attack with an Ivy League-best five home runs on the campaign, and is one away from tying Maggie Johnson (2008-11) for Columbia’s all-time career record of 18. Gott is also just outside the top 50 in the NCAA in batting average (.429) and inside the top 70 in slugging percentage (.730). Her batting average, slugging percentage and 14 RBIs all rank second in the Ivy League. Meanwhile, first-year Sommer Grzybek is tied for second in the Ancient Eight with three home runs and tied for third in RBIs with 12.
Nine of Columbia’s 20 games have either been decided by one run or gone to extra innings. The Lions hold a 3-6 record in such games, earning their first one-run victory of the season over North Dakota State, 7-6, at the Stetson Westin Invitational. The Lions played three one-run games at the Jacksonville Invitational, earning two such victories over George Mason. The Lions played back-to-back games that were decided by one run and went to extra innings, defeating George Mason, 6-5, and falling to Jacksonville, 8-7.
All seven of Columbia’s freshmen have made their way into the starting lineup at one point this season. Leading the way offensively is Sommer Grzybek, who has started all 20 games and is hitting .311 with three home runs and 12 RBIs. Amber Swinarski has started 12 games, including seven of the last nine, and is hitting .257. Swinarski hit her first collegiate home run at the Jacksonville Invitational in the second game against George Mason, slapping one over the fence in right-center. Genny Soltesz picked up her first two collegiate hits in that Saturday’s, 6-5, extra-inning victory over George Mason, including the game-winning RBI in the eighth. First-year Amanda Nishihira cracked her first collegiate home run as part of a win over the Patriots, blasting a three-run shot to left. Nishihira has started five of the last six games behind the plate.
In the circle, rookies Madison Canby and Erin Gallo have combined to start each of the last six games. Gallo owns a team-best 2.78 ERA in 22 2-3 innings pitched, striking out 15. She picked up her first collegiate victory in game two of last Friday’s doubleheader against Monmouth, allowing one run and striking out three over 4 1-3 innings. Canby has seen the most work of any of Columbia’s pitchers this season, tossing 53 2-3 innings and striking out 29. Canby (3-4) has a 5.09 ERA and was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week on March 27 after allowing just one run in a combined 8 2-3 innings of the doubleheader. Canby picked up the win in game one and the save in game two.
Dartmouth (1-18-1) snapped a 13-game losing streak with a, 5-2, win over UC Riverside during the Big Green’s trip to California last weekend. They concluded the trip with an impressive showing against No. 15 UCLA, falling to the Bruins on Sunday, 4-2. Dartmouth has one tie this season against Maryland (Feb. 26) after play was suspended due to travel plans. Senior Maddie Damore has started all 20 games and leads the team with a .340 batting average. Senior Chloe Madill heads the power hitting with three homers and eight RBIs. In the circle, junior Breanna Ethridge (1-10) carries a team-best 5.91 ERA. Ethridge has struck out 46 in 70 innings pitched.
Columbia is 13-25 all-time against Dartmouth. The Lions last defeated the Big Green on March 29, 2013, by a score of 9-6 in New York.
Harvard (8-9) last competed in the Hawaii Invitational (March 14-18), posting a 1-6 record with a, 7-3, victory over Purdue. Harvard’s west coast trip also included five games at the Long Beach State/Fullerton Tournament (March 10-12), where the Crimson went 4-1 with wins over San Diego State, Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton and Longwood. Harvard had a midweek game scheduled this past Tuesday against Holy Cross, but it was halted in the bottom of the third due to weather. Sophomore Rhianna Rich has played in all 17 games and leads the team with a .417 batting average. Sophomore Erin Lockhard boasts a team-high three home runs and 11 RBIs. Harvard’s pitching staff carries a 3.26 ERA. Sophomore Sarah Smith (4-1) holds a 2.90 ERA in 31 1-3 innings pitched and also boasts a team-best 23 strikeouts. Senior Taylor Cabe (3.28 ERA) and Sophomore Kathleen Duncan (3.79 ERA) have combined to start 12 of the team’s 17 games.
Columbia is 7-29 all-time against Harvard. The Lions last defeated the Crimson on March 27, 2015, by a score of 3-0 in New York.