The softball team’s season is quickly becoming a tale of two teams.
This weekend, the Bulldogs (8-14) finally ended their habit of splitting doubleheaders. The Elis swept Central Connecticut (3-12) on Friday, 5-4 and 9-1. The early game took a late-inning rally and some extra-inning heroics, but the second game was an all-out slug-fest, with the Bulldogs posting 11 hits en route to the eight-run mercy rule being called in the bottom of the eighth inning.
But Sunday was a different story, with the Elis dropping both games to Marist (8-12), 5-1 and 3-1. The early game was doomed by Bulldog fielding errors and lack of offensive production, while the late game saw the Elis outhit the Red Foxes but leave nine runners stranded.
“I think that we have a lot to work on, and I think we need to find something that’s going to work for us,” captain Chelsea Kanyer ’06 said. “Sometimes it seems like we show up to play, and other times we’re not on our game as much.”
Despite the mixed weekend, the Bulldogs got nothing but production from their captain. Kanyer went 8-for-13 on the weekend, including two doubles in each game versus Central Connecticut.
Friday’s action began on a sour note. Starting pitcher Jessica Meyer ’07 gave up a solo home run in the second inning, then walked two batters to begin the third. Peggy Hunt ’06 came into the game for Meyer facing a 3-0 count and got Karolyn Andrews to strike out swinging, but allowed a three-run blast to Deb Munson to increase the deficit to four runs.
While her entrance was less than spectacular, Hunt made up for it with five stellar innings, allowing only three hits for the rest of the game and giving her teammates the chance to play catch-up.
Third baseman Kate Meserve began the rally by bringing catcher Kristy Kwiatkowski ’05 home with a two-out single to left in the fourth inning. One inning later, a triple from Libby Peters ’05, a double from Kanyer, a sac fly from Kwiatkowski and a CCSU error allowed the Elis to chip two more runs off of the Blue Devils’ lead.
The Bulldogs tied the game in the seventh, when second baseman Christina Guerland ’07 was hit by a pitch and brought home on Kanyer’s second double of the day.
The game didn’t need to stay in extra innings for long. After left fielder Emily Lederer ’06 — who was placed on second at the beginning of the frame — took third base on shortstop Aracelis Torres’ ’08 groundout, right fielder Niki Haab ’07 hit a walk-off RBI single to right to end the game.
The late game was just as impressive, albeit mildly less dramatic. The Bulldogs went up for good in the third inning, when Kwiatkowski followed Kanyer’s two-out double with her second home run of the season, extending the Eli lead to 3-1.
After a quiet fourth inning, the Bulldog bats turned hot in the fifth. Kanyer’s third hit of the day brought Torres home, after the rookie had led off the inning with a double and Guerland had been hit by a pitch.
Two batters later, a single from Lederer brought Guerland home, and a sac fly from reserve outfielder Rachel Kelley ’05 allowed Kanyer to cross the plate. Meyer recorded the final RBI of the inning with a hard hit to short that the shortstop couldn’t handle well enough to throw Kwiatkowski out at home.
The Bulldogs recorded two more in the sixth to end the game, and had men on second and third and no outs when the mercy rule came into effect.
Ashley Linnenbank ’06 pitched the whole contest for the Elis, allowing only four hits and one run — unearned — to win her third game of the season.
Blue Devil players commented that while the first game had been within their reach, the second game was over once the Elis got going at the plate.
“They’re a great hitting team,” CCSU captain Danielle Cyr said. “You can pitch to them outside of the zone, and they’ll still get it. Once they got hot, it was over. You have to give them credit for that.”
But Sunday, under a steady mist at DeWitt Family Field, the Elis who have failed to get much going at the plate and be precise on defense came out to play.
The top of the third inning was illustrative of the Bulldog defensive struggles during the first game. Despite a leadoff home run from Marissa Riley and a double from Chrystine McHugh, the Elis recorded two outs and could have ended the inning with no further damage when Hunt forced Jasmery Polanco to hit a pop-up into shallow right.
But despite Kanyer, Guerland and Haab all converging on the ball, no one made the play, and the ball fell squarely in the middle of the trio, allowing a run to score. Two singles later, the Red Foxes had scored another run.
“At this point in our careers, it seems like it’s the mental errors that kill us,” Guerland said. “We know how to catch a fly ball, pick up a grounder, hit the ball. But it’s the mental errors that get us — it’s the most frustrating part of our game.”
Making matters worse, the Bulldog bats fell quiet for the large majority of the game. Despite several hard-hit balls, Eli batters managed only four hits against Marist’s Megan Rigos.
And while the second game saw the Bulldogs pull things together, they failed to record timely hits and bring runners home. The Elis outhit the Red Foxes 7-6, but nine Yale runners were left on base, compared to three for Marist.
Team members stressed that hitting is the Bulldogs’ top and very immediate priority right now.
“The bottom line is we’re not executing at the plate,” Kanyer said. “We’re not stringing hits together, we’re not hitting runners in when they’re in scoring position. Some people are hitting the ball well, but people basically haven’t found their groove offensively.”
Team members also said that Friday’s wins can almost make Saturday’s losses seem worse — this team is capable of winning most of its games, but the players have to perform.
“Our team is capable of winning a lot of games this year — it’s not an issue of capability, which is why it’s frustrating,” Kanyer said. “It wouldn’t be frustrating if we didn’t have talent, but we do have talent, but we’re not coming through when we need to yet. As far as the upcoming games this week, next weekend, we know good things will happen — it’s just a matter of turning it on and finding our groove.”
[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”16121″ ]