Despite coming away with a split in their doubleheader against Army Wednesday, Yale softball head coach Andy Van Etten sees at least one area where the Bulldogs need to improve.
The Bulldogs traveled to West Point, N.Y., to play two games against the Black Knights, dropping the first game 5-3 while coming out on top 1-0 in extra innings in the second. The split leaves the Elis at 6-10 for the season and the Black Knights at 5-12.
Despite their victory in the second game, the doubleheader saw the Bulldogs score only two earned runs and hit a combined 13 for 57, a .228 average. Van Etten made a blunt analysis of his team’s offensive performance.
“We’re definitely not hitting the ball,” he said. “A .228 average isn’t going to win many ball games.”
The first game found the Bulldogs down 3-0 in the first inning after Black Knights’ catcher Jamie Gjurgevich hit a three-run homer off Jillian Miles ’04. The Bulldog’s pitcher settled down after the rough first to pitch three and a third solid innings, scattering two runs and four hits in that span.
“[Miles] didn’t pitch too badly,” Van Etten said. “You take [the first inning] away from her and we win.”
In the second game, pitcher Peggy Hunt ’06 posted a seven-hit shutout, utilizing her rising fastball to induce many of the Knights to ground into easy plays for the defense. However, the extra-inning game got a little close for the Bulldogs in the bottom of the eighth. Army put runners on first and second with one out, but Hunt got second baseman Lindsay March to ground into a game-ending double-play.
“[The eighth inning] was definitely pretty nerve-racking,” Hunt said. “I wasn’t trying to overpower [March]. I was just trying to get her to mis-hit the ball. It worked out beautifully.”
A bright spot for the Bulldogs’ offense was the two-hit performance by shortstop Leah Kelley ’04 in game one. Kelley followed that up with a one-for-three showing in the second game. A first team All-Ivy selection last year, Kelley attributed her success to an unlikely source — geography.
“I think [Army's] pitching is a little bit slower than what we usually see,” Kelley said. “I’m from Massachusetts, where the pitching isn’t as strong as in other areas where the girls are from.”
The Bulldogs travel to Storrs, Conn., to take on the University of Connecticut today. The Huskies are riding a six-game winning streak, having recently defeated nationally-ranked No. 21 Georgia Tech. Kelley believes that the Bulldogs cannot be intimidated by the Huskies stature.
“We’re aware that they’re a Big East team,” Kelley said. “We just can’t see beating them as some insurmountable thing. They’re just like any other team.”
As for the offensive woes of the Bulldogs, the season is still young. A popular phrase among the Elis is “hitting is contagious.” Van Etten and his players all believe it is simply a matter of time before their bats come alive.
“I know we have the talent on this team to turn it all around,” he said. “I think we’ll come around.”