Taking Care of Business

By Scott Cole / July / August 2004
June 15th, 2007
After a seven-year drought, the softball team won the Ivy championship this spring for the first time since 1997, sharing the crown with fellow 10–4 finisher Cornell. Sitting at 3–3 in the Ivies after being swept at Princeton on Saturday, April 17, the Bears salvaged the weekend—and, perhaps, their season—by sweeping Penn in Philadelphia the next day. Brown’s final six Ivy games were all at the Erickson athletic complex, and the Bears made the most of the home-field advantage, going 5–1 to finish as cochampions and post their first winning league record since the 1997 squad’s 10–2 mark.

May Day was zero hour for third-year coach Pam McCreesh and her young team, which included only three seniors. The Bears hosted Yale in a doubleheader and had to win both games to finish first. In the first game, Brown jumped to a 5–1 lead and sailed to an 8–3 win.

Tension mounted in game two when Yale moved to a 3–0 lead in the fourth inning. But the Bears struck back in the home half, thanks to a two-run double by cocaptain Melissa Brown ’04, a game-tying double by Melissa Ota ’07, and, finally, an RBI single by Uchenna Omokaro ’05 that put Brown ahead, 4–3. After the Bulldogs tied the game in the fifth, Ivy Rookie of the Year Courtney Jenkins ’07 put Brown ahead to stay in the bottom of the inning with a two-run homer over the center-field fence. The Bears went on to a title-clinching 7–4 win, with Ivy Pitcher of the Year Omokaro (6–1, 2.35 ERA in the conference) picking up a save after pitching a complete game in the opener.

The championship was a sweet finish for the team’s three seniors, cocaptains Brown and Laura Leonetti and Barbara Maloni, all of whom were on a last-place, 3–11 team in 2001 during Chris Cochran’s final year as head coach. “The last two weeks of the season, seeing the team come together and taking care of business, was so rewarding and satisfying,” said Leonetti, a three-time first-team All-Ivy pick who batted a team-high .408.

Brown and Cornell squared off on Mother’s Day weekend at Erickson Field in a best-of-three series to determine who would go on to the NCAA Tournament. The Big Red, which had split a doubleheader with Brown at Erickson on April 10, this time came in riding a fifteen-game winning streak and immediately extended it to seventeen by sweeping the Saturday-afternoon doubleheader, 2–0 and 4–2.

Leonetti believes that McCreesh, who arrived at Brown in 2002 after a four-year stint as Utah State head coach, will lead the Bears to many more winning seasons. “The biggest reason for our progress the last three years is coach McCreesh,” Leonetti said. “Her knowledge and expertise made us all better softball players, but, most importantly, she came in and completely changed the morale and attitude of the team. With her competitiveness, commitment, and constant support, she raised the bar and taught us to be successful.”

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July / August 2004