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Softball seniors step up in weekend series loss to Harvard

Bears adjust to win second game Saturday, but Crimson takes series finale

<p>Despite Harvard’s ultimate victory, Brown senior Madeline Charles ’22 scored a solo home run over the left field wall in the second inning, putting Brown up 1-0 in the second inning.</p><p>Courtesy of Brown Athletics via Tamar Krietman</p>

Despite Harvard’s ultimate victory, Brown senior Madeline Charles ’22 scored a solo home run over the left field wall in the second inning, putting Brown up 1-0 in the second inning.

Courtesy of Brown Athletics via Tamar Krietman

Softball (13-23, 5-13 Ivy League) lost two of three games to Harvard (17-16, 11-4) in a weekend series in which every contest was decided by one run. After dropping the series opener Saturday 2-1, the Bears locked in on defense to render Harvard scoreless in the second game and tied the series with a 1-0 win. The class of 2022 led Brown’s batting in the Senior Day game on Sunday, but despite a tough battle, the Bears fell to the Crimson’s on a one-run homer in extra innings. 

Harvard 2, Brown 1

Brown’s pitcher Lauren Innerst ’22 made things difficult for Harvard in Bruno’s loss to open the series, allowing one earned run on two hits and striking out seven batters. 

Neither team scored until the fourth inning when a Crimson batter walked with the bases loaded and two outs. Brown caught a pop fly to end the inning and limit the damage.  

The Bears did not get on the board until the fifth inning when Laurel Moody ’25 led off with a one-run homer over the left field wall to tie the game. The Bears tried to keep the scoring momentum going — Vanessa Alexander ’25 singled and Elayna Tsiouplis ’22 reached base on a dropped third strike — but no more runs scored. 

The Crimson scored again in the following inning, taking advantage of a Brown error on a mishandled bunt. Innerst escaped a bases-loaded jam, ending the inning down one run.

The Bears could not get another hit in their last two turns at bat, and the game ended with a final score of 2-1.

Brown 1, Harvard 0

The Bears tightened up and refused to allow a run in the following game. Erin Elgas ’23 started for Brown in the victory. Harvard baserunners threatened to score in early innings, but could not cross the plate. 

Brown stifled a bases-loaded scoring opportunity for the Crimson in the top of the fifth inning. With only one out, Katie O’Leary GS fielded a ground ball to third and touched the base before firing a throw to first just in time to get the runner out, and complete the double play. 

The Bears broke the deadlock in the bottom of the fifth, beginning with Moody doubling down the left field line. Moe Kastens ’24 singled through the right side and a Harvard throwing error allowed Moody to score. The Bears defense never relented and they took the game 1-0.  

Harvard 4, Brown 3

Brown battled in the series-deciding game on Senior Day, taking the game into extra innings, but Harvard came out on top. With four of Brown’s seven hits coming from seniors in their final home game, the group’s leadership was on full display.

Madeline Charles ’22 blasted a solo home run over the left field wall to put Brown up 1-0 in the second inning.

The Bears added to their lead in the next inning, taking advantage of Harvard errors to score two more runs. Leah Carey ’25 singled and advanced to second on a Crimson throwing error. Nicole Kim ’23 followed with a bunt to advance Carey. A botched throw to first allowed both Carey and Kim to score on an error that cost four bases. 

Brown got in a tough spot with Harvard’s fifth inning turn at bat. The Crimson scored after a bases-loaded pop-out, and a fielder's choice plated another run. Brown ended the inning maintaining the lead 3-2.

Harvard tied the game the following inning, sending the tying run home on a single. A runner on third threatened to give the Crimson the lead, but Brown ended the inning with the score set 3-3.

Neither team could score for the remainder of regulation. In extra innings, Harvard’s lead-off batter hit a solo home run over the left field wall to give the Crimson the winning run for a final score of 4-3. The Bears had another opportunity at bat but were unable to score.

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Charles’ homerun was her first of the season, as the senior had been sidelined due to injury for all of March. “I was just really excited to get out there and start playing,” Charles said.

Going into her at-bat, Charles said she was focusing on reaching base, rather than hitting the ball out of the park. “Knowing that my team had a lot of faith in me to go up there and do something big definitely drove me to get an even bigger hit than I might have” otherwise, she said.

O’Leary, who graduated last year and returned this season as a graduate student, has been Brown’s most consistent hitter, leading the team with a batting average of .299. She was unable to compete her senior year due to sport season cancellations during the pandemic. She said she has been making the most of her opportunity to play as a graduate student.

Her experience as a graduate student athlete has given her a unique perspective, one that has aided her success on the field, she said. “The intensity is there, but I’m just playing softball and that’s great,” O’Leary said.  “I can just relax and play the game that I want to play and that helped me a lot.”

“There are two ways to approach it. You can have all of the pressure in the world or say ‘I wasn’t even supposed to be here in the first place,’ ” O’Leary added. “This is a gift, and if you treat it like a gift, it ends up being easier.”

O’Leary reflected on the progress she has witnessed within the program since her start at Brown. “I remember in my freshman year watching us get run-rolled and (now) we’re run-rolling people,” O’Leary said. “We didn’t win today but the fact that it’s a one-run ball game is just a world of difference from where it used to be. I find that encouraging and I’m glad to be a part of that” change. 

Brown’s wins and close losses against talented teams like Harvard highlight the team’s tenacity, according to Head Coach Kate Refsnyder. “It’s all a coach really wants,” Refsnyder said of her team’s work ethic. “They’re fighting so hard. They’re getting better every single day. We’re always going to battle and we’re always going to pick each other up.”

Refsnyder said she appreciates the team’s resilience in the face of adversity, particularly the senior class, all of whom dealt with having canceled seasons and many of whom dealt with injuries.

When Refsnyder took over as head coach in 2018, the class of 2022 were first years. “There's going to be some big shoes to fill,” Refsnyder said. “They’ve bought in, they’ve delivered and they really are going to be crucial in what becomes the future of this program.”



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