If only other Eli teams could perform as well against the Killer P’s. The Yale softball team (24-16, 6-2 Ivy) took three of four from Penn and Princeton on the road this weekend, sweeping the Quakers and splitting with the Tigers. With their performance, the Bulldogs now hold sole possession of first place in the Ivy League.
The Elis handily defeated the Quakers Saturday, outscoring them 11-0 between two games. In the first game, a 6-0 victory, Yale catcher Kristy Kwiatkowski ’05 provided ample offense, blasting a two-run homer — her third of the season — in the top of the second and supplying a two-run double in the fifth. Shortstop Leah Kelley ’04, who went 9-15 this weekend, went 3-4 with a stolen base and a run scored. The inexperienced Quakers, whose 19-member roster consists of 12 freshmen, were simply overmatched by the more-experienced and better-prepared Bulldog squad.
“Against Penn, everyone was seeing the ball really well,” first baseman Chelsea Kanyer ’06 said. “It felt good to score a lot of runs. We had early leads in both games and took advantage of it.”
The Saturday doubleheader saw stellar pitching performances yet again from Yale sophomores Beth Pavlicek and Peggy Hunt. In their twelve shutout innings of work against Penn, the two struck out ten while walking only one Quaker. Ashley Linnenbank ’06 pitched scoreless seventh innings for the Bulldogs in both games.
But Kwiatkowski said she believes that the team’s offense is tough to beat as well.
“I believe that our 1 through 9 hitters are capable of coming through with that big hit,” she said. “Every one is confident in each other. We’re not really relying on anyone.”
The offense, though, struggled against the Tigers, scoring only four runs against pitchers Erin Snyder and Melissa Finley. Despite their struggles, the Bulldogs came away with a split at the Class of 1895 Field, winning the first game 1-0 and dropping the nightcap 5-3.
In the first game, pitching understandably dominated, with Snyder and Hunt effectively shutting down the opposing offenses. Snyder, last year’s unanimous Ivy League Rookie of the Year, struck out 11 Elis and gave up only four hits. Not a power pitcher, it was the movement on Snyder’s breaking pitches that baffled the Eli hitters.
“[Snyder's] not overpowering,” Kwiatkowski said. “She had real good movement and it was hard to figure out how the ball was moving. She’s definitely a very good pitcher.”
The Elis, though, came out with the victory in the day game on a suicide squeeze by Pavlicek in the fifth. With the speedy Kelley on third after consecutive steals, Pavlicek supplied the go-ahead run with a gutsy bunt. What made the play even riskier was the fact that it took place with a two-strike count. Yale head coach Andy Van Etten admitted that he was surprised as anyone by Pavlicek’s decision.
“I’d like to take credit for that,” he said. “[But] Pavlicek did that on her own. It was all her. Luckily, we had Leah on third.”
The gamble paid off, and the Bulldogs emerged with an important 1-0 victory.
In the second game, the Bulldogs were unable to come up with the big hits at the key times. Despite jumping ahead of the Tigers in the first, third and fifth innings, the Bulldogs simply could not score when they needed to. Arguably the best chance to put the Tigers away came in the third, when Yale loaded the bases, but all three Elis were left stranded when the inning came to a close.
“We played well enough to win both [against Princeton],” Van Etten admitted. “You know how I always talk about timely hitting? We didn’t get it done against them.”
Despite the loss to Princeton, the Bulldogs still sit atop the Ivy League after this weekend. But with the honor comes added pressure, as opponents will now be gunning to knock the Bulldogs off their perch.
After a non-conference doubleheader against Providence this Wednesday, the Elis will host Harvard on Saturday. But as they have repeated all season-long, the Elis are confident that they have what it takes to hold on.
“We just gotta keep playing like we’re playing,” Kwiatkowski said. “We just have to know we’re the team to beat. Every team is strong but we know we’re strong enough to come out the winners.”