HANOVER, N.H. -- History was made in Hanover in front of a sell-out crowd, as Dartmouth captured its first Ivy League championship against Penn with a 7-3 win on Sunday afternoon at the Dartmouth Softball Park.
Periods of rain and high winds didn’t haunt the crowd who came alive with the Big Green late in the contest, as the hosts scored twice in the fifth inning thanks to a blast over the left-center fence by senior Kara Curosh and then five more runs to take the lead in the sixth.
Dartmouth will have to wait until Sunday, May 11 at 10 p.m. ET when the field of 64 is announced on ESPNU. Regionals for the NCAA Division I Softball Championship will be held May 16-18 on 16 campus sites. At each campus site, a four-team, double-elimination tournament will be conducted and the 16 winning teams advance to the Super Regionals.
“I want to thank everyone who came out and supported us this weekend,” head coach Rachel Hanson said. “The positive crowd was a real game-changer. It made for a true home-field advantage feeling. I love the Upper Valley community and our administration. The support on all levels was phenomenal.”
Junior Kristen Rumley was the on field game-changer, as the ace picked up her 18th win of the season and tossing a complete-game, while allowing three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts. She was also responsible for the game-winning RBI double in the sixth.
The decisive game turned out to be an early pitchers’ duel, as Rumley fanned three of the first four Penn batters and then got three consecutive grounders in the second. Penn’s Alexis Borden who pitched all 14 innings during the first two games of the series allowed just two hits through the fourth frame.
Penn struck for a run in the third and then added two more in the fourth to take a three-run advantage. After Penn’s leadoff hitter Lauren Li struck out to begin the third and then Vanessa Weaver grounded out to sophomore Katie McEachern at shortstop, the Quaker offense drew a walk by Sydney Turchin and then scored the game's first marker on an RBI single from Kanani Datan through the right side.
In the fourth, Penn knocked around Rumley with three singles and a pair of runs. The Quakers took a 2-0 lead on an RBI hit up the middle by Kayla Dahlerbruch and then added another tally on Korinne Raby’s slice up the middle.
In the fifth, junior Megan Averitt sent a one-out slap single to right field and then scored two pitches later on Curosh’s first homer of the season, to pull the Big Green within one-run, 3-2.
“I am so proud of Kara. She has battled all season long and for her to come up big in that situation was a big pay off. It was simply huge,” Hanson said.
Rumley struck out two batters in the sixth, as the momentum swung in favor of the Big Green. Not only was the energy from the crowd helping the team, but also patience inside the batter’s box showed when the first two hitters walked. With the tying-run at first after the base on balls to sophomores Morgan McCalmon and Kelsey Miller, Rumley ripped a shot to left-center and plated both to give the Big Green a 4-3 lead.
With a one-run lead, the Big Green tacked on two more runs, scoring on a wild pitch and then a two-RBI single by McEachern up the middle for the four-run cushion. “We kept battling and were ready to take advantage late in the game,” Hanson said.
Rumley quickly retied the Quakers in the seventh and recorded the final out as Li grounded out to her to begin the celebration.
“We will enjoy this for a day. We want to get back out on the field and be a better team for the NCAA tournament. We are excited for the opportunity and are ready to play wherever.” Hanson said.