Both games decided by 3-2 scores, the Princeton softball team split with Columbia Sunday afternoon as Penn swept in Ithaca to take command of the Ivy race.
Penn is now 13-3 in the Ivy, four games ahead of Princeton (24-18, 9-7), while Cornell (7-9) and Columbia (21-21, 7-9) have been eliminated at six games back with four to play. Princeton will need to sweep Cornell next weekend and see Penn swept by Columbia to force a one-game playoff for the divisional title. Otherwise, Penn will advance to the Ivy League Championship Series.
In the opener, Princeton got a game-winning single from Alyssa Schmidt in the bottom of the seventh to get the win after rallying from an early Columbia lead. Morgan Cook had a leadoff double in the second for the Lions and scored on Emily Caruthers' two-out single.
Princeton tied it when Lizzy Pierce drew a bases-loaded, two-out walk in the fifth, but Columbia took the lead right back in the sixth. A leadoff walk was costly for Liza Kuhn, who gave up a two-out double to Liz Caggiano and left the game after giving up her second walk of the inning. Shanna Christian (9-5) preserved the tie in relief and picked up the win when Princeton scored in each of the last two innings.
Cara Worden dropped a single into right-center to score Maddie Cousens for the tying run in the bottom of the sixth, and singles from Rachel Rendina and Schmidt scored the game's final run.
Tessa Kroll (1-2) took the loss in relief for Columbia, giving up three hits in an inning and a third. Emily Kenyon threw the first 5 1/3 for Columbia, giving up four hits and three walks while striking out seven.
Kuhn allowed five walks and five hits in the opener, striking out two in her 5 2/3 innings of work. Christian allowed only one hit in her relief outing.
In the nightcap, Columbia picked up two runs in the top of the fifth and made it stand up by keeping the Tigers off the board in their last three at-bats.
Alex Peyton (7-7) went the distance, giving up seven hits and a walk while striking out two. Brooke Darling (10-8) got the win, giving up four hits and two walks, also striking out two.
Princeton cashed in on a leadoff walk to Rachel Rendina in the bottom of the first when Peyton picked her up with a sacrifice fly, but the Lions got the run back in the top of the second. Morgan Cook walked and Macy Shrum followed her with a double to make it 1-1.
That's the way it stood until the fourth, when Nikki Chu had Princeton's second single of the inning to plate a run and take a 2-1 lead, but again the advantage was short-lived. Columbia tagged Peyton for three singles and a double in the fifth, getting RBIs from Caruthers and Alix Cook to pull ahead 3-2.
Darling quieted the Tiger bats over the last three frames, allowing only a one-out single to Rendina while retiring 10 of the last 11 batters she faced.
Princeton's series at Cornell will take place next Saturday and Sunday with doubleheaders at 12:30 p.m. each day.