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Bears sweep Columbia to earn first Ivy victories

The women's softball team was on the road over spring break - first in California for a tournament, and then in Pennsylvania and New York for the start of its Ivy League season. 

To kick off its busy week, Bruno (5-13, 2-2 Ivy) traveled to Riverside, Calif., to play in the University of California at Riverside Tournament. Over three days at the Amy S. Harrison Field, the Bears came away with one win from the five-game tournament. 

"This tournament was a good one for us even though we didn't come away with a lot of wins," said Head Coach DeeDee Enabenter-Omidiji. "The pitchers did a good job in keeping the scores closer than they were in previous tournaments. There were a couple times we shot ourselves in the foot defensively, but it is still early for us, and we're still trying to find our way."

On the first day of the tournament, March 24, Bruno fell to Colorado State University 1-0 but came back in the afternoon to earn a 4-3 victory over Santa Clara University. Stephanie Thompson '13 and Kate Strobel '12 were key in leading the offense, while rookies Trista Chavez '15, Kelsey Hom '15 and Denise van der Goot '15 also added contributions. In the first loss to the Rams (17-18), van der Goot pitched five scoreless innings, allowing only three hits before Colorado's State's Emily Pohl hit a home run in the top of the sixth to clinch the win. In their first game against Santa Clara (7-27), Chavez batted .429 and Hom went 2-for-6, scoring one run. 

The win against Santa Clara was the highlight of the tournament for the Bears. They scored two runs in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead, but the Broncos came back in the third inning, scoring three runs to take the lead. But Santa Clara's advantage did not last long. Trish Melvin '12 homered to center field to even the score 3-3 in the top of the fourth, and then in the top of the seventh, Strobel hit a single to bring in Thompson and secure Bruno's win.

Bruno fell to Santa Clara 6-4 in a rematch Saturday and then was edged 3-1 by host UC Riverside (18-16). Thompson led the offense in both games. Against the Broncos, Thompson went 3-for-4 at the plate with three RBI, and against the Highlanders, she was 2-for-3 and hit a solo home run at the top of the first, Bruno's only run of the game.

On the final day of the tournament, Bruno suffered a close loss once again to Colorado State 4-3. Thompson again was the leader in Brown's offense - she went 2-for-4 at the plate with one RBI and scored one run.

Thompson's contributions in all five games earned her Ivy Player of the Week honors. In the five games, she posted a .667 batting average with 12 hits in 18 at-bats, in addition to five RBI and four runs scored. On the season, she leads Brown with a batting average of .477.

"Thompson is just having another outstanding year," Enabenter-Omidiji said. "Last year she lead the country in batting average, and she is playing even better this season."

Following the tournament, the Bears had a few days to rest up before beginning their Ivy League schedule. 

Bruno kicked off their Ivy games with a double-header at Penn March 30 followed by a double-header at Columbia April 1. The Bears fell to Penn (19-10, 4-0) 7-4 and 5-4 but redeemed themselves against Columbia (7-18, 1-3), winning both games 8-0 and 6-5.

"After our game against Penn, we learned we have to step up our game," Enabenter-Omidiji said. "But I thought we played really well ... especially since Penn is the only undefeated team in the Ivy League right now. We started to see people at the bottom of the order make some big contributions."

Against Columbia, Bruno secured the win after five innings in the first game. In the second game, the Bears scored four runs in the top of the fifth to gain the lead, Enabenter-Omidiji said, adding that van der Goot's pitching "shut Columbia down."

The Bears will continue their Ivy League campaign with two home double-headers this weekend, against Cornell (12-11, 3-1) April 6 and Princeton (5-18, 2-2) April 7. 


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