HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College softball team left it all out on the field Saturday as the Fords rallied from a six-run deficit during an elimination game against rival Swarthmore to advance to the Centennial Conference Championship series. Needing two wins against Dickinson to capture the conference title, the Fords once again ran into Madison Milaszweski as she recorded her second straight shutout of Haverford on her way to tournament MVP honors.
With the win against Swarthmore, Haverford has now advanced to the championship game of the Centennial Conference Tournament during seven of the team's nine postseason appearances. That postseason string of success started with the program's first conference championship in 2006. Since that first championship, the Fords' nine playoff appearances in the CC Tournament is the most of any school in the conference over the past 14 years.
Starting its day against Swarthmore, the Fords found themselves trailing 8-2 after four innings. Each of Swarthmore's first eight runs in the contest came with two outs as two-out hits were crucial in the Garnet's early advantage. With its back against the wall, Haverford came out fighting and scored 14 runs over the next two innings and had an eight-run lead heading into the bottom of the sixth before Swarthmore was able to erase the mercy-rule deficit. Haverford's eight-run fifth inning tied the conference's tournament record for most runs in an inning which had previously been done on two occasions.
Senior captains Julia Blake and Rachel Wolfson each blasted two-run home runs against the Garnet to highlight the record-breaking frame. When all was said and done, the Fords had racked up eight hits in the fifth. Just one inning later, Johanna Batterton blasted a three-run home run over the left field fence to bring a strong Haverford partisan crowd to a standing ovation that just kept going as the Fords continued to circle the bases to the delight of the home faithful.
By the time the Fords were finally retired at the end of their 14-run, two-inning rally, Nicole Swisher, Wolfson, Ashley Sisto, and Michelle Kaplan each had three hits on the day for the Fords as Haverford recorded 18 hits in total. In addition to Batterton's three RBI, Blake, Swisher, Wolfson, and Sisto each had multi-RBI games during what was a remarkable offensive effort in an eventual 16-11 win. Temma Levis picked up the win for the Fords in that game to record her 18th win of the season.
Against Dickinson, the Fords were able to get to the Red Devils' ace with some frequency, but were ultimately thwarted when one key hit could have changed the contest. In the fourth inning, Swisher beat out an infield single. However, she was erased trying to steal second base on a contested call. That call on the field loomed large as Emma Souter doubled over the center fielder's head shortly after while Wolfson singled before both of those runners were stranded in scoring position.
In addition to her stellar outing in the circle, Briana Quinn doubled down the right field line in the fifth before being stranded. The Fords also had runners on second and third in the sixth inning on singles from Souter and Wolfson before they were once again stranded in scoring position. The Fords had two more on during the seventh as Quinn dropped another hit down the right field line ahead of a Blake walk before Milaszewski escaped yet another jam with a grounder to short.
Despite Milaszewski continuing her scoreless stretch against the Fords, Quinn matched the tournament MVP pitch for pitch throughout the championship game. Quinn struck out two batters and allowed the same number of hits as Milaszewski as both teams finished with seven knocks. The complete game effort was the second of Quinn's season as she had set down five in a row right before Dickinson got back-to-back one-out hits in the fourth to score the only run of game six. That inning was one of just two in which Dickinson put a runner on third during the entire afternoon.
After falling in game six of the championship series, Haverford finished its season with a strong 28-12 overall record. Those 28 wins are just one shy of the program record which was set in 2014. The Fords also won 28 games during the 2016 season which fittingly enough came when seniors Rachel Wolfson and Julia Blake were first-year starters for the Fords during the team's run to the NCAA Regional Championship. In that same postseason, the program came within a single victory of the NCAA Women's College World Series.