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Split Decision: Dartmouth, Penn Will Play Deciding Game Today

  • Dartmouth's Megan Averitt congratulates Brianna Lohmann, left, after Lohman scored on a single by Kristen Rumley in the sixth inning of the first game of a Penn at Dartmouth softball playoff doubleheader in Hanover, N.H., on May 3, 2014. Dartmouth won, 5-1. (Valley News - Will Parson)

    Dartmouth's Megan Averitt congratulates Brianna Lohmann, left, after Lohman scored on a single by Kristen Rumley in the sixth inning of the first game of a Penn at Dartmouth softball playoff doubleheader in Hanover, N.H., on May 3, 2014. Dartmouth won, 5-1. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • The throw from Dartmouth third baseman Kelsey Miller isn't in time after Penn's Kanani Datan, left, hit a grounder to reach first in the first inning of the second game of a Penn at Dartmouth softball playoff doubleheader in Hanover, N.H., on May 3, 2014. Penn won, 5-3. (Valley News - Will Parson)

    The throw from Dartmouth third baseman Kelsey Miller isn't in time after Penn's Kanani Datan, left, hit a grounder to reach first in the first inning of the second game of a Penn at Dartmouth softball playoff doubleheader in Hanover, N.H., on May 3, 2014. Penn won, 5-3. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth pitcher Morgan McCalmon winds up in the first inning of the second game of a Penn at Dartmouth softball playoff doubleheader in Hanover, N.H., on May 3, 2014. Penn won, 5-3. (Valley News - Will Parson)

    Dartmouth pitcher Morgan McCalmon winds up in the first inning of the second game of a Penn at Dartmouth softball playoff doubleheader in Hanover, N.H., on May 3, 2014. Penn won, 5-3. (Valley News - Will Parson) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Dartmouth's Megan Averitt congratulates Brianna Lohmann, left, after Lohman scored on a single by Kristen Rumley in the sixth inning of the first game of a Penn at Dartmouth softball playoff doubleheader in Hanover, N.H., on May 3, 2014. Dartmouth won, 5-1. (Valley News - Will Parson)
  • The throw from Dartmouth third baseman Kelsey Miller isn't in time after Penn's Kanani Datan, left, hit a grounder to reach first in the first inning of the second game of a Penn at Dartmouth softball playoff doubleheader in Hanover, N.H., on May 3, 2014. Penn won, 5-3. (Valley News - Will Parson)
  • Dartmouth pitcher Morgan McCalmon winds up in the first inning of the second game of a Penn at Dartmouth softball playoff doubleheader in Hanover, N.H., on May 3, 2014. Penn won, 5-3. (Valley News - Will Parson)

Hanover — Don’t go changing.

That was the message among members of the Dartmouth College softball team Saturday after it split a doubleheader with Pennsylvania to begin the teams’ best-of-three Ivy League title series. The Big Green won the opener, 5-1, before dropping the second game, 5-3.

The results set up today’s winner-take-all Game 3, scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. Should predicted showers, thunderstorms and possible hail prevent the contest from being played, the tentative plan is for the Quakers to return to Philadelphia for final exams, then travel back to Hanover for a rescheduled tilt next Saturday.

“I think we played great and I’m really excited for what’s going to happen tomorrow,” said Dartmouth senior Kara Curosh, whose team lost last year’s title series to Penn in Game 3 and on the road. “We attacked their defense and put pressure on them every inning and we learned from every at-bat. They made some great plays on us, but sometimes that happens.”

The Big Green (30-17) saw numerous line drives die in Quaker gloves and center fielder Kanani Datan made several outstanding catches, including one in Game 2 when she snared a ball that appeared it would have otherwise cleared the left-center field fence.

Curosh said Dartmouth coach Rachel Hanson warned her troops not to become complacent after its initial triumph, sparked by Katie McEachern’s two-run home run in the third inning.

“She told us to be ready,” Curosh said. “That this is a good team and they’re not going to lie down because we had a hell of a game just now.”

The Quakers jumped to a 3-0 lead during the first inning of the second contest. Per series rules, Pennsylvania was designated the home team in that game. Dartmouth, which forged a 3-3 tie in the third inning, will resume that role for today’s clash.

“Hits don’t always fall when you want them to, so we’ll just keep battling,” Hanson said. “I thought we played well and I’m not worried about how we’ll rebound.”

Dartmouth pitching ace Kristen Rumley (16-7) allowed only one hit and one run while striking out three batters and walking two during the series’ first five innings. Meanwhile, Penn star Alexis Borden surrendered 10 hits and five runs, three earned.

After Penn (19-22-1) used a walk and an RBI double to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning, McEachern produced her eighth home run of the season, driving in Chloe Madill, who had led off the third inning and was hit by a pitch.

The Big Green parlayed four hits, a passed ball and a sacrifice fly foul-out into three more runs in the sixth. Rumley had an RBI single and Maddie Damore a run-scoring double during the rally. Morgan McCalmon earned a save by holding Penn scoreless during the final two innings.

The Quakers proved their mettle during the first inning of Game 2, lacing a pair of singles through the left side of the infield and using a fielder’s choice and an RBI bunt to McCalmon to take a 1-0 lead. Leah Allen, who had laid down the bunt, then stole second and a second run scored on another fielder’s choice. The third run came home when third baseman Kelsey Miller misplayed another bunt.

Dartmouth pulled within 3-2 after Karen Chaw hit a two-run home run in the second inning. The Big Green pulled into a 3-3 tie during the third, Megan Averitt leading off with a double and McEachern singling her home.

The Quakers used two doubles in their half of the third to go up, 4-3, then combined a single and a double to close out the scoring in the fourth. In the seventh, Chaw clobbered what initially appeared to be her second home run of the game, but Datan reached up over the top of the fence to make a dramatic catch.

Borden, who also pitched the second game, improved to 12-9 by allowing just four hits and two earned runs and retiring 10 consecutive batters during a stretch from the fourth through seventh innings. Rumley reached second on a single and an outfield error after Chaw’s near-home run, but a pair of ground outs ended the game.

McCalmon (10-5), who started Game 2 for the hosts, allowed six hits and five runs during 32⁄3 innings of work. Rumley surrendered a hit and no runs the rest of the way.

“We just need a little more execution defensively and to keep swinging the bat hard with the same mentality,” Hanson said. “I didn’t tell (the players) to change a single thing. I just told them to go get (Penn) tomorrow.

“Playing a third game doesn’t shock me at all because these are two very good teams. Now it’s about who competes the hardest and who has the ball fall their way.”

Notes: The league title series has been held for seven years and in each case, the host team has won it. … Dartmouth president Phil Hanlon was in attendance and waved to a group of students chanting his name. … The 400-seat stadium was filled to standing-room only during the first game. Attendance dropped slightly as rain made several appearances during the second contest. … Dartmouth has won 12 of its 15 games since sweeping Penn in a home doubleheader earlier this season. … The Quakers won the South Division title for a third consecutive season while the Big Green captured its second consecutive North Division crown. … The Big Green is 11-2 at home this spring. … Dartmouth leads the teams’ series, 23-22. The programs have each won six of their last 12 meetings.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com or 603-727-3227.