After playing eight games last week, no one would have blamed the Yale softball team for being relieved that Wednesday’s doubleheader with St. John’s had been postponed due to rain.
But after winning their last four games and seeing their once-latent bats come to life, the Elis were raring to go.
“I think everyone was really excited [to play St. John's],” second baseman Christina Guerland ’07 said. “It was kind of withdrawal after playing so well this weekend. You just want to go out there on the field and perform really well.”
The Elis play three doubleheaders this weekend, the first and last at the Dewitt Family Field against Sacred Heart today and Seton Hall Sunday. Sandwiched in between, Yale travels to intrastate rival Fairfield for a pair Saturday.
After struggling offensively earlier on in the season, the Bulldogs have been hitting the ball well recently. In their doubleheader against Manhattan last weekend they pounded out 20 hits and 12 runs, crushing the Friars 9-0 in the nightcap. With Cornell and the Ivy League season just around the corner, Eli head coach Andy Van Etten said he hopes his team will continue its performance.
“We’re going to see a lot of good pitching this weekend,” he said. “That’ll be good to prepare for Cornell. They’re the team to beat [in the Ivies].”
A constant so far for the Bulldogs has been the pitching of Peggy Hunt ’06. Hunt was named Ivy League pitcher of the week, going 3-0 with a 0.29 ERA. She pitched shutouts against Army and Manhattan while allowing only one earned run against Marist. Hunt leads the team this season in wins (5), ERA (0.68), and strikeouts (26).
“She’s always around the plate,” Van Etten said. “She seldom walks anyone, and I think that’s a big reason why she’s done so well.”
As for her teammates, they see Hunt as a quiet leader with a contagiously positive attitude.
“Peggy did a wonderful job in Florida, which really boosted her and the team’s confidence,” infielder Katie Mesgrave ’07 said. “She has such a positive, uplifting attitude. I’ve never seen her on the mound without a smile on her face.”
Hunt herself attributes much of her success to the fact that she is simply not a freshman anymore.
“Having a year of college softball under my belt has really helped me,” Hunt said. “As a freshman, you have to change how you pitch and play. I think I’ve really adjusted, and this year it has really come to fruition.”
But being green is not always a hazard for the Elis. Another bright spot for the Bulldogs has been the play of their freshmen. Guerland, along with Niki Haab, Meredith Parks and Mesgrave have all played substantially for the Bulldogs. In addition, Haab, Parks and Mesgrave are all vying for the starting third-base job.
“This year’s freshmen class has been outstanding,” Van Etten said. “Christina [Guerland has] done a great job at second. There hasn’t been anyone like that in a while.”
With high spirits, however, often comes the tendency to lose focus. This early in the season, the Bulldogs must be careful not to let their current success get to their heads. After all, the real season against the Ivies has not even started yet.
“With all the doubleheaders we play, it’s hard to stay focused for so long,” Guerland said. “We have to be sure we finish every inning.”
As for the doubleheader against St. John’s, no makeup has been scheduled. But if these confident Bulldogs had it their way, they would have played in the rain.