For those Bulldog fans at Dewitt Family Field, watching the opening weekend of Ivy League play for the softball team was like taking in a showing of “The Comedy of Errors”: amidst the mishaps and confusion, everyone came out smiling.
Despite making 11 errors in their four games, including six in their second game against Cornell (22-10, 3-3 Ivy), the Bulldogs left the weekend with three wins in the first four games of their Ivy League season. On Friday, the Bulldogs beat the Big Red 2-0 in the first game and after their 4-1 error-plagued loss in the nightcap swept the Columbia Lions 5-0 and 1-0 on Saturday. The Elis relied on the one-two punch of Peggy Hunt ’06 and Beth Pavlicek ’06 to improve their record to 20-14 overall, 3-1 in the conference. The pair of sophomores dominated their league rivals this weekend, giving up only one earned run over 30 innings of work. With its wins, the duo has a combined record of 15-5 with a miniscule 0.71 combined ERA.
The Big Red came into its doubleheader against the Bulldogs with a combined 29 homers and 132 runs batted in, but they were essentially shut out by the Eli pitching tandem. Hunt pulled the plug on the power-hitting Big Red in the first game, once again relying on a nasty rise ball and effective control to frustrate the Cornell hitters into harmless pop-ups and foul balls.
“We did a lot of damage in foul territory, didn’t we?” Cornell head coach Dick Blood said. “We didn’t do anything out in the ball field. Peggy [Hunt] pitched beautifully. She kept the ball in on our hands, and while that’s generally our strength, we didn’t get our hands out in front and keep them inside, so naturally we couldn’t hit the ball fair.”
Hunt scattered five hits over her seven innings of work, striking out four Big Red batters. It was her fourth shutout of the season.
“They’re a hitting team, and they hit the long balls, but if you can get them to hit them up, our outfielders were at the fence and just caught the ball,” Hunt said. “Kristy [Kwiatkowski ’05] and I just tried to stay really inside so that if they turned on a ball it would go foul. I mean they hit a lot of home runs, but they were all in foul territory.”
Despite throwing 111 pitches in the game, Hunt managed to stay strong throughout.
“There’s a lot of adrenaline going on,” she said. “You just get going and you forget about how much you’ve pitched. I’m sure it will hit me, but right now I feel good.”
Unfortunately, Yale did not share Hunt’s sentiments after dropping the 4-1 mistake-ridden second game to Cornell. Despite a great pitching performance by Pavlicek, who only gave up one earned run while striking out eight, the game was marred by a four-error third inning.
Things began to unravel quickly when shortstop Leah Kelley ’04 could not handle a hard-hit grounder by Big Red second baseman Erin Kizer. After center fielder Britni Fabacher ’04 dropped a pop fly by Erin Sweeney, the Bulldogs found themselves with runners on first and second with no outs. After Kizer was forced out on a fielder’s choice, Kate Verde hit a grounder to Pavlicek, who misfired to third, leaving the bases loaded with one out. Lauren May then smoked a grounder to third baseman Meredith Parks ’07, who could not come up with it, scoring Sweeney. Catcher Melissa Heintz then smacked a grounder past Pavlicek to score two more unearned runs for the Big Red. Pavlicek managed to strike out Caitlin Warren and Beth Price swinging to end the inning, but by then the damage had been done.
Yale head coach Andy Van Etten was quick to share his opinions about the disastrous third.
“I’d rather forget it,” he said. “You know, I preach, you play the good d[efense], good things happen. You don’t, the roof’s going to fall in. And that’s what happened. But I think that’s going to be typical of Ivy softball. It happens. If you keep the mistakes down, you’ll be okay. The girls get excited and they want to overachieve, and sometimes things just don’t happen.”
The coach, though, downplayed the situation with some humor when he called for a huddle in the middle of the inning.
“I just told them, ‘You know, we don’t all have to make an error out here. It doesn’t mean if one does, you all have to, because that’s what it looked like,'” he said. “Short, pitch, third, centerfield, I was waiting for the other two infielders to make one. I was just trying to calm them down.”
Fortunately, the Bulldogs were able to regroup after only their second loss in fourteen games to sweep the Lions (14-21, 1-5). The first game saw the Bulldogs exploit the wildness of Columbia pitcher Maiya Chard-Yaron — she threw three wild pitches and hit two Bulldogs — to come away with a decisive 5-0 victory. Pavlicek once again showed her prowess from the offensive side, hitting a two-run homer to left-center field in the first inning. It was a game of fifths for Hunt, who delivered a five-hit shutout, striking out five Lions and pitching her fifth complete game of the season.
The second game was marked by excellent pitching on both sides and smart base-running by the Bulldogs. The Elis had a chance to score in the bottom of the second after consecutive bloop singles by left fielder Emily Lederer ’06 and right fielder Niki Haab ’07 with one out. Fabacher then advanced Lederer to third on a fielder’s choice, but Kelley grounded out to Lions third baseman Kacy Krisman to end the inning.
The Lions had a great shot to score some runs in the top of the third, loading the bases with only one out. Pavlicek, however, who threw nine innings of three-hit ball, induced Marisa Marconi to ground out and Krisman to pop out to Kelley. After battling into extra innings, the Bulldogs finally came away with the victory in the bottom of the ninth thanks to alert base-running by Kwiatkowski. Lions catcher Heather Gutterud was a little slow coming up with Lederer’s foul out, and Kwiatkowski took advantage to score from third.
This week the Bulldogs leave the friendly confines of Dewitt Family Field to take on the University of Hartford, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton. If their pair of aces continue its success, Elis they believe their mishap-laden weekend will not be a season-long production.
“Everyone is out there to play their game,” Hunt said. “It’s just one of those things that happens to the best of the players. Everyone tries to make up for it and overplay and then makes even more errors. I mean, that’s just not our team. That’s just not how we play.”