Despite a rocky start to the season, the softball team managed to turn things around and finish the season with a .500 record, tying for second place in the Ivy Leagues South Division.
The Lions (21-21, 8-10 Ivy) entered conference play hot, winning their first four games, and had a chance to win their division in the seasons final weekend. But the Light Blue dropped three of four against Penn, and the Quakers (24-16, 15-5 Ivy) took home the division title.
For the first time in the programs history, we were playing for a divisional series, head coach Kayla Noonan said in a message to Spectator. While we did not play our best this weekend, we made huge strides this season, broke several records, and saw a glimpse of the programs future.
The season got off to an inauspicious start. In late February, the Lions traveled to Texas to take on North Dakota State (15-19), Houston (30-19), and Nicholls State (18-32) in their first invitational of the season. Columbia failed to pull out a single victory, getting outscored by a margin of 47-13. However, the struggling squad picked up its first two wins of the season at the Hampton Invitational in Virginia the following weekend to get back on track.
As nonconference play came to an end, the Lions hit their stride. Columbia took a five-game winning streak into its first Ivy games against Yale (8-33, 4-16 Ivy) and Brown (4-34, 2-18 Ivy). The Light Blue didnt lighten up, as it dominated both opponents and extended its winning streak to nine gamesalbeit against a pair of teams that went a combined 6-34 in league play and 12-67 overall. At the end of the first weekend of conference play, the Lions led their division.
The streak would eventually come to an end at 10 games, with the Light Blue splitting a midweek series against Manhattan (21-24). The team failed to build on its divisional lead following this defeat, as it was swept by Harvard (28-15-1, 14-13-1 Ivy) and Dartmouth (29-16, 18-2 Ivy), and never quite regained its footing. Despite their late-season woes, by the final weekend of regular-season play, the Lions found themselves within reach of a postseason berth. But Columbia was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, finishing tied for second with Princeton (17-26, 9-11 Ivy) and four wins behind the Quakers.
Despite coming up short, the Lions did show promise in 2014. On the mound, sophomore righty Emily Kenyon and junior righty Brooke Darling both posted a number of impressive outings. Kenyon finished with a team-best 3.19 ERA, while Darling led the Lions with 10 wins. And led by rookie standouts first baseman Alyssa Rodia, who led the team with six home runs, and center fielder Shelby Unger, who hit a team-high 13 doubles, the offensive had some success as well.
With all but two players returning, the Light Blue will look to be competitive within the division once again in 2015.