It’s a One-Game Series Now
Dartmouth Splits to Force Deciding Game
With her teammates waiting for her, Dartmouth freshman Kathy Dzienkowski, third from left, arrives home with a grin after her solo home run in the sixth inning provided some insurance in a 6-2 victory that gave the Big Green a split of yesterday’s Ivy League Championship Series softball doubleheader at Penn Park in Philadelphia. Dartmouth and host Penn will play a winner-take-all third contest today to determine the Ivies’ representative in the NCAA tournament. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth pitcher Kristen Rumley delivers to a Penn batter to open the second game of yesterday’s doubleheader in Philadelphia. After throwing a complete-game four-hitter only to lose 1-0 in the opener, Rumley came back with a complete-game five-hitter in the Big Green’s 6-2 nightcap win. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Five-year-old Kortney Junker finds a comfortable spot on her father, Dan Junker, of Grant Park, Ill., during yesterday's Ivy League Championship Series softball doubleheader at Penn Park in Philadelphia. The Junkers were at the games to root on Dan Junker's daugther, Dartmouth senior first baseman Hillary Hubert. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Dartmouth shortstop Katie McEachern bobbles a grounder from Penn's Brooke Coloma for an error in the second inning of the opening game of yesterday's Ivy League Championship Series doubleheader at Penn Park in Philadelphia. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »
Philadelphia — They couldn’t hit to help themselves in the first game, but the members of the Dartmouth College softball team enjoyed a heapin’ helpin’ of hittin’ in the second to earn a split of yesterday’s Ivy League Championship Series doubleheader at Penn Park.
Katie Adams and Kathy Dzienkowski drilled home runs to break a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning to give the Big Green a 6-2 nightcap win over host Pennsylvania. The happy — from Dartmouth’s perspective — development offered a sharp comparison to the opener, which Penn pitcher Alexis Borden owned in one-hit fashion, 1-0.
The end result: The Big Green (26-19) and Quakers (28-19) will unite at 1 p.m. today on the banks of the Schuykill River for one more game in the best-of-three series. The winner takes the Ivy title and the league’s NCAA tournament bid.
It would be a first-time sensation for Dartmouth, which is playing in just its second softball ICS in its 18-year program history.
“It’s fun; I think it’s a little bit of a relief for our young ones, especially,” third-year Big Green coach Rachel Hanson said. “Just an exhale: ‘OK, yeah, we can do this, here we go.’ It’s fun; it’s a lot of fun. I have no complaints.”
Like Borden, Dartmouth sophomore Kristen Rumley threw both ends of the twin bill. Only she survived.
A hard-luck loser in the opener, with the Quakers’ only run coming unearned, Rumley stayed the course in game two despite surrendering a game-tying tater to Penn’s Jessica Melendez. For the day, the Texas native threw 183 pitches over 13 innings, fanning 12 against just nine hits and one walk.
“I would like to say (it’s) another day at the office, but it’s (the) Ivy championship, it’s definitely more special,” said Rumley, who is now 22-8 on the campaign. “Just knowing that Coach has the confidence in me to still throw me in a doubleheader, and knowing that (freshman teammate and pitcher Morgan McCalmon) will come out and she’s fresh … Penn should be worried.”
Nerves played a role in Dartmouth’s opening defeat, but Borden played more. The righty fanned 11, and the only hit she permitted — a soft liner off the bat of the Big Green’s Kelsey Miller — ticked the glove of leaping Penn shortstop Stephanie Caso in the third inning.
An error helped the Quakers get the only run they’d need. A Brooke Coloma grounder escaped the grasp of Big Green shortstop Katie McEachern in the home second, which Penn’s Kayla Dahlerbruch followed with a single. Both advanced on a double steal; Dartmouth catcher Alex St. Romain would catch Coloma off third on a wild pitch, but Dahlerbruch came home on a Georgia Guttadauro RBI single for the game’s sole tally.
“For us, this year, we’ve been very good at living in the moment,” Hanson said. “As soon as that game was done, it was behind us. And it was a feeling of, ‘Hey, let’s attack every inning — attack, attack, attack.’ I don’t think there was any carryover for us.”
The extra exposure to Borden (176 pitches over 111∕3 innings) finally paid off for the visitors in the nightcap. The Big Green also received help from the umpires and Penn’s defense.
Dartmouth took a 1-0 lead after one thanks to an interference call at third base. Megan Averitt beat a throw to the corner sack on the front end of a double-steal with teammate Hillary Hubert. Averitt got up and appeared to beat the tag at the plate as play continued, but the home-plate umpire ruled Dahlerbruch held the Dartmouth baserunner down at third, a call Penn coach Leslie King protested to no avail.
McEachern plated Averitt with a hustle double in the third to make it 2-0, a lead that evaporated a half-inning later with Melendez’s two-run blast to left-center field. Rumley got caught in a rundown between third and home to deny Dartmouth a go-ahead run in the fifth; her teammates wiped that worry out in the sixth.
A tiring Borden walked McEachern. McCalmon followed with a blue-dart liner to left that Penn’s Sydney Turchin misjudged into a two-base error. Adams then ripped her three-run homer on a 1-2 changeup, and Dzienkowski — Hanson’s only lineup change from game one — went yard to the same spot two batters later, ending Borden’s day.
“I’d seen the changeup all game; sometimes she beat me on it, sometimes I got a good piece,” Adams said. “I saw it and hit it hard, hoped it went out and it did.
“You see little things here and there that we were picking up. I could kind of see it early. I went with it, and it was right.”
Both squads can expect more of the same today. Likely Penn starter Borden “can deal,” said Hanson, who is equally confident bringing Rumley back on minimal rest or tossing McCalmon into the mix.
The rest of the Dartmouth roster expects to pull is weight when called upon as well.
“One thing we’ve seen throughout the season is when we get down, we fight, we fight, we fight, we fight,” Adams said. “And we pull through.”
Fungoes: Adams accounted for two of the Big Green’s seven hits in the nightcap. … No Quaker batter had more than one hit in either game. Dahlerbruch, Melendez and Guttadauro each had two on the day. … Dartmouth women’s lacrosse coach Amy Patton led her team in a team cheer — spelling out their school’s name with their arms — late in the lidlifter. The Big Green meets Penn for the Ivy League women’s lax title at Franklin Field today at noon. … Penn Park is a train lover’s paradise. The pedestrian bridge that links the ball field with Franklin Field and the Palestra traverses a commuter rail line. An elevated freight route overlooks left field, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor passenger trains pass right field, another freight line borders the far side of the Schuykill and all of them are active.
Greg Fennell can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3226.