Spring break got off to an inauspicious start for the Yale women’s softball team. As if playing fourteen games in eight days was not hard enough, the Elis had to endure 22 hours worth of delays at LaGuardia Airport before a game was even played.
The Bulldogs went 5-9 over their Florida excursion. Yale lost to Youngstown State, Creighton, Eastern Kentucky, Lehigh, Colgate, Cleveland State, Tennessee Martin and Stetson, twice. But the Elis did come away with five wins over Butler, George Mason, Colorado State, Vermont and Dayton.
“We had to sleep on conveyor belts,” captain Jillian Miles ’04 said. “It was definitely a pretty crazy situation.”
Despite the rocky start, Yale head coach Andy Van Etten said he believed the long delay did not faze his team.
“I don’t think [the close slate of games and the airport delay] affected our performance on the field,” Van Etten said. “It’s one of those things where you just have to roll with the punches.”
After losing a day of practice due to the airport delay, the Bulldogs managed to scrape out five victories down in Florida, including a come-from-behind win against Colorado State in extra innings and consecutive shutout victories over Vermont and Dayton.
Van Etten said he thought the Bulldogs could very well have come out with a few more victories.
“We were in every game but two,” he said. “We could have very easily been 10-4 or 9-5.”
In addition, many of the Bulldogs believed, records aside, they performed well against the competition, many of which had already played more than twice the amount of games as the Elis had.
“Every team we played had played at least twenty games,” second baseman Emily Lederer ’06 observed. “I don’t think our record reflected how well we played.”
Lederer is a staff reporter for the Yale Daily News.
Pitchers Peggy Hunt ’06 and Beth Pavlicek ’06 were key components in the Bulldogs’ rotation while catcher Kristy Kwiatkowski ’05, first baseman Chelsea Kanyer ’06 and shortstop Leah Kelley ’04 all contributed on the offensive side. Several Bulldog freshmen, including Niki Haab and Kate Meserve, also performed well in their first few collegiate contests.
The trip was highlighted by a dramatic comeback against a tough Colorado State team. The Bulldogs found themselves down by five runs after five-and-a-half innings of play when the team’s bats came alive. Kwiatkowski’s two-run double in the bottom of the six capped a six-run inning that put the Bulldogs up 6-5. After the Rams tied it in the seventh, the Bulldogs scored the winning run in the eighth when Meserve beat out a throw to the plate with the bases loaded.
“We lost to [Colorado State] twice last year,” Miles said. It was great to come back and beat them. It was a good confidence-builder.”
The Bulldogs returned home only to find their doubleheader against Quinnipiac had been cancelled due to snow. It may have seemed that some of the bad omens from the beginning of the trip followed them home, but the Bulldogs are undoubtedly optimistic about the rest of the season. And with 11 returning letter winners from a team that challenged for the Ivy League title last spring, they have a right to be.
“I think this year the talent we have is incredible,” Lederer said. “I’m excited for what we have in front of us.”