The first of two days at Penn for the Princeton softball team featured a heartbreaking defeat, an inspiring comeback and ultimately put the Tigers right where they started.
Midway through the teams’ four-game series and midway through the Ivy League season, the Tigers (21-13, 6-4) find themselves two games behind Penn (18-15, 8-2) in the Ivy and were three outs away from having pulled even with Sunday’s two head-to-head matches still to come.
Penn won the opener 10-9 before Princeton bounced back to win Saturday’s nightcap 5-3.
Nine of the opener’s 19 runs were scored in a seventh inning that saw Princeton rally, take a three-run lead and give it back to Penn, all without getting an out in the bottom half of the frame.
Princeton entered the third inning trailing 4-1 after a four-run bottom of the first for Penn against Tiger starter Alex Peyton (6-5). Princeton got two of the runs back and had the bases loaded with one out against Penn’s Alexis Borden (9-7), but a strikeout, a pop-up and a groundout ended the rally with Princeton still trailing 4-3.
Lizzy Pierce homered in the top of the sixth to make it 5-4 after Penn added a run to its lead in its half of the fifth, but the Quakers got that run right back and led 6-4 heading into the final inning.
Then, the Tigers experienced the whole range of emotions, first on the happier side. With one out, Alyssa Schmidt and Alex Peyton belted back-to-back home runs, with Schmidt’s a two-run shot. That made it 7-6 Princeton. After a walk and a single, Cara Worden’s single helped to make it 9-6 Tigers, and Princeton stood three outs away from stealing the first game of the series.
But things quickly unraveled. Two singles, a hit batter, a double and a game-winning single for Penn’s Jessica Arneson scored four runs for Penn with Princeton unable to record an out, and the game went to Penn 10-9.
Game two was much less dramatic. Four Tigers – Maddie Cousens, Tory Roberts, Rachel Rendina and Candy Button – each had an RBI as Princeton never trailed. The Tigers were up 3-1 after four, scored twice more in the fifth before Penn got those back in the bottom half, and Shanna Christian (7-3) closed it out by keeping Penn off the board.
Christian gave up 10 hits and walked two, striking out five to get the win. Penn’s Lauren Li (5-2) took the loss, going 4 2/3 innings and giving up 11 hits and a walk.
The Tigers will begin Sunday’s pivotal twinbill at 12:30 p.m. at Penn Park. At Sunday’s conclusion, the Tigers will either be tied, two back or four back of the Quakers with eight to play. Both teams will have four-game sets against Columbia and Cornell that will decide the division race before month’s end.