Update- Edited the game schedule as I was missing a game.
Second Update- Edited the game schedule to reflect Friday night's results
The path to Oklahoma City will start in Arizona for Harvard's softball squad after a dominate Ivy League performance. The Crimson found out the news around the same time that they officially closed the book on a successful Ancient Eight campaign. After sweeping their North Division opponents, Harvard defeated Cornell in two shutouts in Cambridge to claim the Ivy League championship. Individually, the Crimson swept the league awards, with Ellen Macadam becoming the first Crimson player since Tiffany Whitton in 2002 to earn Player of the Year honors, Rachel Brown earning Pitcher of the Year honors, and Kasey Lange earning Rookie of the Year. Shortstop Jane Alexander and outfielder Stephanie Regan joined the trio as First Team All-Ivy selections, with Laura Ricciardone, Allie Scott, Whitney Shaw, Ashley Heritage and Mari Zumbo earning Second Team All-Ivy accolades. Now the Crimson will head west to take on #8 Arizona, Texas Tech, and New Mexico State in the double-elimination regional round hosted by Arizona.
After the jump, we'll preview Harvard's regional opponents and see how the Crimson stack up. The schedule is at the end of the post.
Scouting the Opposition
Arizona (Pac-10) - The Wildcats, ranked eighth in the country, will be considered the favorites as hosts. The Wildcats are the second winningest program in college softball in terms of titles, having earned 8 national championships. Despite a gaudy 40-16 record, and a 19-10 home record, the Wildcats had a tepid conference record, going 11-10, good for third in the conference behind in-state rival Arizona State and California. The team hit for a .319 average and a .531 slugging percentage, led the conference in home runs with 72, while having the 6th best pitching staff of 8 in the league, with a 3.01 ERA. Their best pitcher is Kenzie Fowler, who has a 1.75 ERA in 40 appearances, going 23-7 with 29 games started, and a 1.18 WHIP. Brittany Lastrapes is the team's best hitter, with a .415 AVG and a .518 OBP, while Brigette Del Ponte has the power on the team, with a .749 SLG%.
New Mexico State (WAC) - The WAC Regular Season and Tournament Champions went 43-15 this year, 8-2 in neutral games and 17-4 in conference. They led the league far and away in offensive categories, with a .342 batting average, 77 home runs, a .553 slugging percentage, and a .432 OBP. Leading the way offensively for the Aggies was All-WAC First Teamer Hoku Nohara, who led the team in all the major categories with a .430 AVG, 1.015 SLG%, and a .612 OBP. Utility player Valerie Swedberg earned the WAC Rookie of the Year nod. New Mexico State was in the middle of the WAC in pitching with a 4.04 ERA. Their best pitcher is Alex Newman, who had a 3.39 ERA in 42 appearances, making 33 starts and going 22-6 record and 1.45 WHIP.
Texas Tech (Big XII) - The Red Raiders put up an impressive 40-14 record and an 11-0 neutral site record but faltered in conference play, going 5-13, good for only 8th in the Big XII. They led the conference with a .347 AVG and a .436 OBP while they were second with .543 SLG%. Cydney Allen is the best batter on the team, leading the Raiders with a .743 SLG% and a .500 OBP while hitting for the third best average with a .375. Texas Tech struggled on the mound with only the 8th best staff, earning a 3.28 ERA. Two pitchers split time evenly, with Brittany Talley earning a 2.70 ERA in 27 appearances with 21 starts, going 14-6, while Kelsey Dennis earned a 2.84 ERA in 24 appearances with 23 starts, going 12-5. The team is in a bit of a slump, having lost 8 of their last ten.
Scouting the Crimson
The Crimson not only dominated the Ivy League in the standings but also in statistics. Overall, the Crimson had the best offense and defense in the Ancient Eight. The Crimson hit for a .325 average, a .500 SLG%, .383 OBP and 44 home runs. Lange led the way with a team high .483 OBP and .804 SLG% while coming just ahead of Macadam (.442) for the best average with a .444. The Crimson also had the best fielding percentage as well as the best pitching staff. Led by Brown and Ricciardone, the Crimson had a league best 2.54 ERA. Brown had a 1.90 ERA with 26 starts and 34 appearances, going 21-6, adding 2 saves and 17 complete games. She racked up a league record 291 Ks, a 11.51 K/9 and a 0.99 WHIP. Her freshman counterpart was no slouch either with a 2.06 ERA in 18 starts and 25 appearances, going 13-5 and 10 complete games. She had 76 Ks as well as a 1.12 WHIP. Harvard went 36-14 overall, 18-2 in the conference en route to the Ivy Championship and went 16-5 in away games (while going 6-7 in neutral site games).
Friday May 20th
Game 1: 7pm Texas Tech 0 vs. New Mexico State 9 F, 5 innings (boxscore)
Game 2: 9:30pm Arizona 10 vs. Harvard 0 F, 6 innings (boxscore)
Saturday May 21st
Game 3: 5pm Arizona vs. New Mexico State
Game 4: 7:30pm Texas Tech vs. Harvard (Elimination Game)
Game 5: 10pm Loser of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4
Sunday May 22nd
Game 6: 3pm Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner (Regional Championship Game)
Game 7: 5pm Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser (if necessary)