Senior weekend at Dewitt Family Field did not present the seniors on the Yale softball team any parting gifts.
The Elis of the Class of ’04 were treated to three losses in four games, a sweep by Harvard, and a collapse of their chance at an Ivy League title.
The Elis (27-19, 7-5 Ivy) entered the weekend atop the league standings but were outscored 13-4 in their two doubleheaders against Harvard (19-17, 7-5) and Dartmouth (13-18, 5-7). In addition, the stellar pitching of Peggy Hunt ’06 and Beth Pavlicek ’06 was uncharacteristically off-the-mark.
Hunt entered the weekend with a 0.55 ERA and had not given up an earned run in her last 39 innings of work. But Hunt struggled early against Harvard Friday, giving up four earned runs in the first inning alone. The Eli offense could not erase the deficit, eventually losing 6-0. Only four Bulldogs were able to muster hits against Harvard pitcher Kara Brotemarkle.
While Pavlicek went the distance against Harvard in the nightcap, the top of the seventh saw the Crimson capitalize. With runners on second and third with one out, Cantab second baseman Sara Williamson hit an RBI single that scored pinch runner Susie Winkeller. After Pavlicek got designated hitter Pilar Adams to ground out to third, she walked shortstop Rachel Goldberg. The walk proved costly, as Pavlicek hit right fielder Julia Kidder to score another run for the Crimson. The Bulldogs escaped further damage when Pavlicek got pinch hitter Rachel Murray to pop out.
Eli outfielder Niki Haab ’07 breathed some life into the offense in the bottom half of the seventh with a leadoff homer, but the Elis would go down one-two-three after that to fall 2-1.
Harvard was powered by pitcher Kara Brotemarkle, who struck out 10 Bulldogs in the first game and came on to get the final three outs of the nightcap. Brotemarkle refused to take all the credit for her performance in the first game, though.
“My catcher did an awesome job of calling the game,” she said. “Because, honestly, all my pitches weren’t working as I would have liked and she worked with [the Yale hitters’] strengths and weaknesses extremely well.”
On Saturday against the Big Green, the Bulldogs played well enough to split with Dartmouth, but still struggled. They were shut out in the first game, 3-0, but avoided the sweep thanks to a two-run sixth that gave them a 3-1 victory in the late afternoon session.
Hunt regained her composure after her outing against Harvard and pitched seven strong innings for the Bulldogs in the first game. She struck out five Big Green and walked one in the complete game. It was only until the top of the seventh when the Big Green’s bats went to work. After singles by Dartmouth center fielder Kauren Folger and left fielder Lacey Neahr, the runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Lisa Caruso. Folger crossed the plate after an error by Yale left fielder Emily Lederer ’06. After a double by Big Green designated hitter Jess Reiten, the Bulldogs found themselves in a 3-0 hole that they would not overcome.
The second game saw the Bulldog bats come to life against Big Green pitcher Brittany Copenhaver. In the bottom of the first, first baseman Chelsea Kanyer ’06 drove in shortstop Leah Kelley ’04 with an RBI single that put the Elis quickly on top.
Pavlicek pitched well for the Bulldogs, her only mistake coming in the form of a mammoth home run by Dartmouth right fielder Jodee Thompson in the top of the fourth that tied up the game.
Hanging tough, the Bulldogs finally capitalized on their scoring chances to score two runs in the sixth to seal the victory. After a leadoff double by Kanyer, the Dartmouth pulled off a double play when Yale catcher Kristy Kwiatkowski ’05 grounded out to first and Kanyer got nabbed trying to advance to third on the play. However, after a single by Parks, Haab once again provided a big hit for the Elis, ripping a double over the Big Green left fielder’s head to score Parks. Pavlicek smoked a grounder past the second baseman to score Haab and cap the inning for the Bulldogs.
But the Big Green did not make it easy for the Elis in the seventh, putting runners on first and second with one out. But Kelley made a beautiful backhanded catch to rob an extra-base hit from Neahr and Pavlicek struck out Caruso for the Bulldog victory.
Eli seniors hoped that the Bulldogs had done better.
“You’re definitely disappointed,” center fielder Britni Fabacher ’04 said. “Especially since we haven’t beaten Harvard since I’ve been here. So I really wanted to take at least a win from them. But you just have to take it as it comes.”
Fabacher added that the pressure of having to play with the Ivy League title in the balance affected the team’s play against Dartmouth.
“We had a lot of pressure knowing we had to win out [against Dartmouth] in order to really have a chance at the Ivy League title,” she said. “We needed to come out fresh against them and we didn’t do that.”
While the Bulldogs now have little chance of the Ivy League title, head coach Andy Van Etten was encouraged by the continued strong play of the underclassmen.
“The freshmen are great,” he said. “And if you take a look at the starting lineup, we have a freshman at second, a freshman at third, a sophomore at first, a sophomore pitching and a freshman in right. We’re in pretty good shape for next year.”
As far as this year is concerned, the Bulldogs still travel to Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday and to Central Connecticut on Thursday. The Elis wrap up their season with a doubleheader against Brown in Providence, R.I. on Saturday.