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April 30, 2011

Harvard Clinches North Division Title, Home Field for Softball Championship Series

Courtesy of Harvard Athletic Communications

HANOVER, N.H. -- The Harvard softball team took care of business Saturday in the first two games of a four-game series with Dartmouth, downing the Big Green 8-1 and 9-7. With the pair of victories, Harvard captured its second-consecutive Ivy League North Division title and earned home-field advantage for the Ivy League Championships Series next weekend.   

The Big Green took advantage of a first-inning passed ball, taking a 1-0 lead after one and holding that lead until the third inning. In the top of the third, Kasey Lange put the Crimson ahead for good, blasting a three-run homer to center, staking Harvard starter Rachel Brown to a 3-1 lead. With the three-run blast, Lange set a new Harvard record for RBI in a season, driving in her 58th run of the season with the long ball.

Ashley Heritage pushed the Harvard lead to 5-1 in the fifth with a two-RBI single down the left field line. Harvard finished the scoring in the top of the seventh, plating three more runs to bring an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh. Mari Zumbro plated Kassy Shiotani with a single to third base and Jane Alexander followed with a two-run single to left. Brown allowed just three Dartmouth hits in the game, striking out six Big Green hitters for her 18th victory on the season. Stephanie Regan, Heritage and Zumbro all had two hits the game, while Lange finished with a trio of RBI.

Harvard struck first in the see-saw battle that was Game 2, notching a run in the top of the first. Ellen Macadam, Regan and Lange reached on consecutive singles, and Mari Zumbro picked up an RBI after getting hit by a pitch. The Crimson extended its lead to 3-0 in the top of the second as Macadam and Lange each recorded RBI singles through the middle. The hosts answered back in the bottom of the third, plating runs on an error and an RBI single to knot the score at 3-3 after three full innings.

A Zumbro sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth plated Lange to give Harvard a 4-3 lead, but Dartmouth posted four runs in the bottom half of the frame to take its first lead of the game, 7-4, after five full. The lead didn't last for long, however, as a Macadam triple in the top of the sixth sparked a five-run Harvard rally to give the guests a 9-7 edge. Whitney Shaw brought two runners home with a single in the inning and Harvard also picked up a run on an illegal pitch.

Zumbro came in to the game in the fifth inning and held the Big Green scoreless to pick up her second victory of the season. Laura Ricciardone worked the first 4.2 innings, picking up one strikeout and scattering eight hits. Lange finished the second game 4 for 4 with two runs and an RBI and Macadam also recorded four hits on the game, driving in three runs and scoring three as well in the 9-7 victory.