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May 5, 2011

Cornell Wins South Division Title, Spot in Softball Championship Series in Thrilling Fashion

Courtesy of Cornell Athletic Communications

PHILADELPHIA --  The Cornell softball team won its third straight Ivy League South Division title with a 1-0 win over Penn on Thursday morning at Drexel Field, handing head coach Dick Blood his Cornell record 542nd win in the process. The Big Red will head into the Ivy League championship series beginning Saturday at North Division champion Harvard. Cornell improved to 27-20-1 (12-7 Ivy), while the Quakers' season ended with an 18-21-1 record (9-10 Ivy).

The Big Red used an infield single by Jenny Edwards with two outs in the seventh to score the lone run of the game in a pitcher's duel. Ali Tomlinson opened the inning with a single. With one out, Sam Creamer singled through the left side to put runners on first and second, with Jenna Stoller pinch-running for the rookie. Morgan Cawley's ground ball to second was bobbled for an error to load the bases. Marissa Amiraian made great contact, but her hard-hit ball to third went home for the second out. Edwards took a 1-0 pitch back up the middle, and a diving attempt by Penn second baseman Samantha Erosa glanced off her glove as Jenna Stoller crossed the plate to start the celebration.

The fact that the game came down to one run was due to in large part due to outstanding pitching by both squads. Elizabeth Dalrymple was sensational for the Big Red. She didn't allow a hit until there was one out in the sixth and ended the day with a complete-game two-hitter. She struck out five and walked two in picking up her 19th win of the year. Penn's Mickenzie Voves took the hard-luck loss, surrendering just seven hits and the one run. She struck out six batters.

Blood surpassed legendary Big Red baseball coach Ted Thoren, who won 541 games in a 29-year career in the dugout. He ran his record to 542-243-2 at Cornell (.690).

Both pitchers stranded a pair of runners in the first inning to keep the game scoreless. Dalrymple worked around a leadoff walk and a hit batter in the first inning, retiring the side and stranding two baserunners. The Penn defense threw out Amiraian, who led the game off with a single, at the plate on a hard hit ball to second by Towne to eliminate the Big Red's best early scoring chance.

For Penn, their first inning was really the only inning it threatened off Dalrymple, who allowed just three baserunners in the final six innings. In fact, the Quakers never put a runner past first base after the first inning.

The Big Red stranded two runners in the third inning after a leadoff walk and a one-out error put runners on first and third, but Voves settled down to get a strikeout and a groundout to retire the inning.

Both teams made several strong defensive plays to keep the game scoreless, including a pair of long rundowns in the gap by Amiraian in center and another by J.J. Briggs in right to set up Cornell's late heroics.

The Big Red, forced to travel to Philadelphia due to Penn's final exams, and the Quakers did not play the second game, which would only have been needed if Penn had won the first contest to mathematically stay in the Ivy race. Once Cornell crossed the plate, the second game of the doubleheader was canceled, as was the possible one-game playoff on Friday morning.

Cornell returns to action when it meets Ivy North champion Harvard, who went 18-2 in league play. The two teams split a doubleheader in Cambridge, Mass. earlier this year, with Cornell taking an 8-1 victory in game one and dropping the nightcap 9-7. The best-of-three game series for the Ivy League title and the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament will begin with a doubleheader on Saturday, May 7 at 1:00 p.m., with a single deciding game three on Sunday, May 8 at 1:00 p.m. if necessary.